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HOME IMPROVEMENTS PERFECT FOR AGING PARENTS

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

HOME IMPROVEMENTS PERFECT FOR AGING PARENTS

According to an AARP report, approximately 90% of Americans over the age of 65 would prefer to stay in their own home as long as they are able, so chances are, if your parents are in their golden years, they feel the same way.  Although home renovations may not satisfy the needs of every case, here are some improvements that you can make to your parent’s home, or your own, to make it safer and more convenient as they age.

Install an Elevator or Stair Lift

Elevators and stair lifts can be very expensive, but if they fit into your budget, they can also allow your parents to move easily throughout their current home, which would help them to stay put much longer.  Expect to pay at least $30,000 for an elevator, or approximately $3,000 for a stair lift.

Use an In-home Monitoring Service

Many “smart” home alarm and detection system companies are now offering in-home monitoring services for seniors, which involve a monthly fee and often require the purchase of equipment.  With sensors placed throughout the home, families can monitor the movements of their loved ones, which reduces stress on the family.

Consider a Walk-in Bathtub & Grab Bars in the Bathroom

Walk-in bathtubs are perfect for seniors that find climbing in and out of a bathtub difficult, as long as they are willing to use them correctly.  Since these tubs require you to get in the tub BEFORE turning on the water, your parent must be comfortable with sitting or standing in the buff while they wait for the water to fill.  Prices for these tubs range from $2,500 to $10,000.  Also, bars located in the bathtub and next to the toilet can also help with stability issues.

Widen the Doorways

If your parent will be moving throughout the house in a wheelchair, providing more spacious doorways may be a necessity.  However, the cost varies widely depending on the doorway, and any electrical wiring that must be moved.

Install Lever-style Doorknobs

Quite possibly the cheapest improvement you could make for your aging parents is to replace the round doorknobs in the house with lever-style handles.  Expect to pay between $10 to $20 per handle.

While you may not be able to prevent your parents from ever leaving their home, making these changes can prolong their stay considerably.

THE BEST REPAIRS TO MAKE BEFORE SELLING YOUR HOME

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

THE BEST REPAIRS TO MAKE BEFORE SELLING YOUR HOME

When it’s time to sell your home, deciding which last minute home repairs will pay the best dividends can be overwhelming.  There is no hard and fast rule, but depending on the time of the year, the location of your home, and the market temperature, following these general guidelines can help with your decision making.

Flooring Fixes

If your home has hardwood floors, congratulations!  Most modern buyers prefer hardwood, so it pays to remove carpet if you have hardwood underneath that can be refinished.  If your sub-floor is plywood, then replace your current carpeting with new neutral carpeting.  For ceramic, tiled flooring, replace any chipped and cracked tiles, and clean/replace the grout.

Ceilings and Walls

Adding a fresh coat of paint to your ceilings and walls not only brightens up your rooms, but can also cover any stains or hairline cracks.  Buyers often study ceilings for any signs of a leaky roof, so repainting them will pay off.  Always choose neutral colors for the best value.

Wallpaper & Wood Paneling

If you have wallpaper in your home, the solution is simple, get rid of it!  Wallpaper is a very personal choice, so make use of a wallpaper steamer to remove it.  Wood paneling; however, can be painted.  Be sure to use primer, then paint with a neutral, soft color.

Kitchen Improvements

Kitchen remodels return nearly 100%, but the costs are high.  Most buyers aren’t interested in paying more for high-end appliances, but mid-range and minor kitchen remodels can result in a large return.  Dated cabinets are a major turn-off to buyers, so updating or replacing your kitchen cabinets is a wise place to spend your money.  Resurfacing is the least expensive option, but if your cabinets are painted, a new coat of paint and new hardware can do wonders.  Replacing leaky faucets and stained sinks are also improvements worth investing in.

Roof

If your home is in need of a new roof, you should replace it.   Most buyers will shy away from buying a home if the roof needs to be replaced.

In a nutshell, buyers want to find a well-maintained home that is move-in ready, including updated plumbing, electrical and heating.

5 WAYS TO BORROW IDEAS FROM PROFESSIONAL KITCHENS

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

5 WAYS TO BORROW IDEAS FROM PROFESSIONAL KITCHENS

Restaurant kitchen designs feature both efficiency and safety, so why not take some of their tricks home to your own kitchen?  Here are a few ways to infuse your space with some industrial convenience, without creating a sterile and industrial feel.

1- WORK ZONES

Commercial kitchens are intentionally planned for accident-free traffic, and creating a kitchen with work zones, surrounded by space for easy movement will allow you and your family to enjoy cooking together safely.

2- OPEN SHELVING

Open shelves make it easy to grab and go, and are great for families.  Cupboard doors and drawers attract sticky messes, so an open shelving system is easier to clean.

3- STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel surfaces are popular in commercial kitchens for good reason.  Not only can they take boiling hot pots and pans straight from the cook-top or oven, but they are also incredibly hygienic and almost indestructible.

4- DISPOSAL HOLES

Most restaurant kitchens have disposal holes with trash receptacles beneath so that food scraps can be easily swept straight into the trash.  This prevents bacteria from accumulating on the top of a trash can lid, and is highly convenient if you can spare the counter space.

5- COMMERCIAL FLOORING

It’s important for commercial kitchens to invest in nonslip, easy to clean flooring, and domestic kitchens have begun to follow suit.  Popular flooring choices like cork and linoleum not only provide a nonslip, easy to clean surface, but they also are easier on your feet than tile or hardwood.

With kitchen inspiration abounding on spaces used on the Food Network and popular cooking shows, you're certain to find something perfect for your kitchen and family.

STRESS LESS: HOW TO KEEP HOUSEWORK FROM RULING YOUR LIFE

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

STRESS LESS: HOW TO KEEP HOUSEWORK FROM RULING YOUR LIFE

The thankless task of housework can often make you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.  Its repetitive and relentless nature will probably never change, but your attitude can truly make all the difference.

One strategy for finding a new way to look at household chores is to separate untidy from dirty.  Put them together, and messiness and uncleanliness can seem like an unsurmountable mountain, but mentally split the two, and you can deal with them one at a time.  Trying to decide where to start?  Dirt first!

Value flexibility over perfection.  Often we feel stressed about housework because we set the bar too high.  Everyone goes through seasons of chaos and quiet, and if you have young children, a new puppy, or are just plain busy, you need to adjust your expectations.  Instead of overvaluing the opinions of others, decide for yourself what level of cleanliness is acceptable to keep the house healthy, and functioning.

Choose your battles and decide which parts of your home to prioritize.  If having a sparkling kitchen trumps tidy bedrooms, then spend more of your time working on the kitchen.  Also, try not doing certain chores for a while, and take note of how far you can push it.  Some chores that you’ve done daily out of habit might actually only need doing every few days.

Finally, develop a fast and effective chore routine to keep things running smoothly, and set yourself up for success by having some housework essentials close at hand.  For example:

  • A Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
  • Some All-Purpose Spray Cleaner
  • A Swiffer Mop
  • A Long Handled Feather Duster
  • Foaming Spot Cleaner

Housework doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence if you keep it in perspective.  Focus on making your home an inviting and safe place for your family, and no one will mind if things are a bit untidy from time to time.

DIY HOME IMPROVEMENT IDEAS FOR WINTER

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

DIY HOME IMPROVEMENT IDEAS FOR WINTER

Yes, it may be the dead of winter, and you and your family may be cooped up inside for the next few months, but you don’t have to rule out home DIY projects.  If you’re interested in finding a few ways to be productive this season, read on!

Focus on Your Floors

Home improvement projects that allow you to spend your time indoors are obviously key to the winter DIY season, and updating your worn down flooring is a great place to start.  Thanks to a wide range of new snap-together flooring products, in both wood and laminate options, installing your own floors doesn’t have to require the upheaval of sanding, nailing and gluing.  In fact, this type of flooring can often be installed in a weekend, and can make a huge difference to the appearance of your home.

Update Your Cabinets

You don’t have to purchase a new set of custom cabinets to update the look of your kitchen.  If you feel like your kitchen needs a facelift, try giving your existing cabinets a makeover.  Just removing a few of your cabinet doors to showcase your favorite dishes can give your space that pop of color you’re wishing for.  Try using a favorite paint color, or wallpaper on the inside of your newly opened, or glass cabinets to create an attractive backdrop and give your kitchen the boost it needs.

Switch Out Window Treatments

Making your own curtains can be the perfect place to start when it comes to breaking into the DIY realm.  Simply choose a piece of decorative fabric, and sew a channel for the hanging rod and seams at the sides and bottom.  Just changing up your window treatments can go a long way in freshening up your rooms.  See this helpful post for more DIY curtain help!

These DIY home projects are a great way to avoid the winter slump, and be productive without having to brave the winter weather!

PEACE ON EARTH

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

Millennials don't want their parents' stuff

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

 

 

I came across an article about the Generation Gap between Millennials and their parents and thought you might enjoy reading it and sharing.   Do you have friends that are dealing with the "declutter movement"?  Baby Boomers are starting to clean out their homes and their kids don't want the "stuff"!   See below to read this fun article!

Generational gap: Millennials don't want their parents' stuff

By Jura Koncius
The Washington Post

Posted:   03/29/2015 12:01:00 AM MDT | Updated:   5 days ago WASHINGTON

A seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America.

Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, photo albums and leather sectionals.

Their kids don't want them.

As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, clean out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.

Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting. Auction houses, consignment stores and thrift shops are flooded with merchandise, much of it made of brown wood.

Downsizing experts and professional organizers are comforting parents whose children appear to have lost any sentimental attachment to their adorable baby shoes and family heirloom quilts.

To make matters worse, young adults don't seem to want their own college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections, still entombed in plastic containers at their parents' homes.

The 20- and 30-somethings don't appear to be defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphones.

"Millennials are living a more transient life in cities. They are trying to find stable jobs and paying off loans," said Scott Roewer, 41, a Washington professional organizer whose business is the Organizing Agency. "They are living their life digitally through Instagram and Face book and YouTube, and that's how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don't need a shoebox full of greeting cards."

Rewriting the American dream

Many millennials raised in the collect-'em-all culture (think McDonald's Happy Meal toys and Beanie Babies) now prefer to live simpler lives with less stuff in smaller downtown spaces, far from the suburban homes with fussy window treatments and formal dining rooms that they grew up in.

The desire of many millennials to stay in cities rather than moving to the suburbs or rural areas is instigating a rewrite of the American dream.

According to the 2014 Nielsen report "Millennials: Breaking the Myths," 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers where they can live near shopping, restaurants and work. And 40 percent say they would want to live there in the future.

Take Kelly and Josh Phillips, who rent a 700-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood. The couple frequently sell things on Craigs list and call an Uber instead of owning a car.

"My parents are always trying to give us stuff," said Kelly Phillips, 29. "It's stuff like bunches of old photos and documents, old bowls or cocktail glasses. We hate clutter. We would rather spend money on experiences."

Reasons for being

Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers in Chevy Chase, Md., said the market is flooded with boomer rejects.

"Hardly a day goes by that we don't get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it," she said. "Millennials don't want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don't polish silver."

The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it's not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.

"Baby boomers were collectors," said Elizabeth Wainstein, 50, owner and president of Potomack Company Auctioneers in Alexandria, Va., where lots of family treasures end up being sold. "They collected German porcelains or American pottery. It was a passion, and they spent their time on the thrill of the hunt."

She said younger people aren't really that interested in filling shelves.

Kenyon said the under-35 set has always had eBay to find what they want and aren't as nostalgic for former decades.

"Millennials are design-conscious, informed consumers. They bring a lot more confidence to how they want their homes to look," said Newell Turner, 53, editorial director of the Hearst Design Group. "They need to have reasons for why they are doing something. They are not just taking a bed to inherit it."

Kenyon said that boomers might be a bit envious of their offspring as they look to shed things and have more freedom to travel.

Downsizing

Roewer often finds himself counseling boomers as he helps them clear out. Roewer was born in 1973, which makes him part of Generation X. He says his own parents try to give him items for his 750-square-foot home.

"When my parents downsized from 4,500 square feet to 1,100, they sent me four boxes of stuff," he said. "It was things like cards from people I no longer knew, a paper plate with the face of a lion I had glued yarn around and my christening outfit. I appreciate my mom taking care of this stuff, but I really don't want it."

Karen Hammerman, 52, one of Roewer's clients, has three sons ages 17 to 24. She and her husband, Ira, live in a five-bedroom house in Rockville, Md.

"Millennials have stuff on discs and flash drives," she said. "I don't think my sons are going to want my walnut table, eight chairs and buffet. We will downsize maybe in five years, and I will either sell this stuff or give it away."


Vicki Graham Graham
Associate Broker
#1 Properties
(307) 631-6884
Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

www.GrahamHouse.com

"Come as a Client, Remain as a Friend"

 

Seniors: Have a Safe and Healthy Winter Season

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

Seniors: Have a Safe and Healthy Winter Season

By Dr. Judith S. Black


Helping older family members stay safe, secure and independent begins with preparation in the home.
Learn how to help seniors stay safe and healthy by following these tips:
 

  • Since snow and ice and other adverse weather conditions raise the risk of falls during the winter season, it is important to wear appropriate footwear – comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles. This will help secure footing on icy or snowy walks, stairs or driveways.
     
  • Check where you regularly walk and be aware of any surfaces that may present a slip or fall risk. Be sure rugs are flat and secure, especially since footwear in the winter tends to be a bit heavier and bulkier than in the warmer weather months.
     
  • Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. If you haven't done so already, it is not too late to call your friends and family members to remind them to get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot can help prevent complications in older adults and anyone with asthma, diabetes, anemia and other heart and lung problems. Call your doctor today to discuss and schedule your flu shot.
     
  • I also recommend getting a pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot. Unlike the flu shot, which is different each year and is given before the start of the influenza season, the pneumococcal shot can be given at any time of the year. However, for convenience, the pneumococcal shot can be given at the same time as the flu shot.
     
  • At this time of the year, it is also important for senior citizens to be protected from the cold temperatures. Every year, many elderly people die from hypothermia and exposure since our bodies are less able to protect us from dangerously cold weather if they have to be outdoors.
     
  • Finally, diet and exercise should not be neglected during the winter months. While you may not want to venture outside for a walk, it is important to stay active with light exercises indoors.

Dr. Judith S. Black has been the medical director for senior markets at Highmark Inc.

Tips to Navigate 2012 W-2 and 1099 Changes

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

Tips to Navigate 2012 W-2 and 1099 Changes

Every year brings with it new changes related to W-2 and 1099 forms and reporting requirements. Due to the government's increasing focus on the proverbial tax gap, it's more important than ever for small businesses to understand the changing W-2 and 1099 reporting environment.

Here are some of the key changes that will affect small business this year.

W-2 Form Changes and New Additions
The reduced rate of 4.2 percent for social security tax withholding (for employees only) is extended for wage payments made in 2012. Also new in tax year 2012, compensation of $600 or more that is paid to H-2A visa agricultural workers must be reported on Form W-2 if the worker furnishes a valid taxpayer identification number. If the worker does not furnish a valid taxpayer identification number, report the payments on Form 1099-MISC.

In addition to the above W-2 form changes, there are several specific form updates to various 1098 and 1099 forms. Below are several of the more prominent changes for 2012:

  • Filers of Forms 1098 (except 1098-C), 1099, and 5498 may truncate a recipient's social security number, individual taxpayer identification number, or adoption taxpayer identification number on paper payee statements for tax year 2012.
  • Form 1098: Mortgage insurance premiums paid or accrued after December 31, 2011, are no longer eligible to be treated as interest paid by the payer/borrower.
  • Form 1099-B: New boxes have been added to Form 1099-B for reporting the stock or other symbol, quantity sold, whether basis is being reported to the IRS, and state income tax withheld. Other boxes on the form have been moved or renumbered. Brokers must also report on Form 1099-B sales of covered securities by an S corporation if the S corporation acquired the covered securities after 2011.
  • Form 1099-C: Box 6 is now titled Identifiable Event Code and requires the entry of a code for the identifiable event. For 2012, all codes are optional except for Code A – Bankruptcy.
  • Form 1099-DIV: Exempt-interest dividends from a mutual fund or other regulated investment company are now reported on Form 1099-DIV. Those amounts will no longer be reported on Form 1099-INT. Boxes 12 through 14 have also been added to Form 1099-DIV to report state income tax withheld.
  • Form 1099-INT: Exempt-interest dividends from a mutual fund or other regulated investment company (RIC) are no longer reported on Form 1099-INT. Those amounts will now be reported on Form 1099-DIV. Boxes 11 through 13 have also been added to Form 1099-INT to report state income tax withheld.
  • Form 1099-MISC: Compensation of $600 or more paid in a calendar year to an H-2A visa agricultural worker and any backup withholding must be reported on Form 1099-MISC if the worker fails to provide the employer with a taxpayer identification number. If the worker does furnish a valid taxpayer identification number, report the payments on Form W-2.


Below are some important dates for filers to remember as they enter tax season:

 

  • January 31, 2013 – Due date to send most 1099s and Copies B, 2, and C of form W-2 to each recipient/employee
  • February 28, 2013 – Due date to send Copy A of form W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and form1099 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on paper
  • April 1, 2013 – Due date to send copy A of form W-2 to SSA and form 1099 to IRS electronically (e-file)

Are You A Renter? Insure Your Stuff!

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties, Vicki@GrahamHouse.com

Are You A Renter? Insure Your Stuff!

By John Voket

I need a bunch of you – specifically you renters – to take a moment and consider an important piece of advice about your stuff. If you love it, then make an extra effort to protect it.

Did you know the majority of homeowners buy insurance, but just one in three college-aged renters insures their belongings? Even more shocking: at least half of all renters fail to buy any insurance protection for their possessions.

Way too many consumers are under the mistaken impression that their landlord’s policy will cover their losses, according to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. BBB says renter’s insurance generally covers property damage or loss caused by theft, fire, vandalism or storms. In addition, most policies include liability coverage, which protects a tenant if someone gets hurt when visiting their home or apartment.

The cost of renter’s insurance is usually lower than homeowner’s insurance because it covers only personal property and liability, not the structure. The amount of the deductible can also affect the cost of premiums.

Two types of renter’s insurance coverage are available:

  • Actual cash value insurance pays to replace items up to the policy’s limits, minus a deduction for depreciation.
  • Replacement cost insurance pays the actual cost of replacing your possessions, regardless of depreciation, up to the limits on the policy.


Consider the value of possessions versus the cost of insurance - even a college student can have property worth several thousand dollars, such as computers, televisions, furniture, jewelry or small appliances.

When seeking a renter’s insurance quote:

Determine if you have specific items of high value, you also may need a rider to cover those items.

  • Ask what deductibles apply to the policy.
  • Find out whether the policy will cover living costs if you are unable to occupy your current apartment or home.
  • Inquire about exclusions, such as types of property that would not be covered.
  • Ask the insurer if they give discounts for burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems or deadbolts on exterior doors.
  • If you are switching insurers, be sure that the new policy is in effect before dropping the old one.
  • As with any insurance product, BBB advises consumers to get estimates from several companies before buying a policy.


Source: www.bbb.org.
 

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Photo of Vicki Graham, Broker Associate Real Estate
Vicki Graham, Broker Associate
#1 Properties
6106 Yellowstone Rd.
Cheyenne WY 82009
(307) 631-6884
307-773-8454