Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top Ten Lists - Again

Every once and a while I take a few minutes and peruse the top ten list of this and that. They are always interesting. Mostly because of the compilers themselves (What were they thinking?) than the list itself. Best places to live, cities with the best grade schools, and those that have the best chain restaurants are fun to read but I can assure you that no one will move just to be on one of these lists. But, it does give a resident of “The best college town in America,” some self-satisfaction knowing someone out there validates their choice.

So here are few to ponder:
America’s Most and Least Expensive College Towns  (CLICK HERE)
I was not surprised that Berkeley Cal was number one. No one can afford to live in the Bay Area. But why Stanford isn’t on the elite list leaves one to wonder about the list's authenticity, housing in Palo Alto is totally insane. The least expensive is Muncie, Indiana. Yes, Muncie. I’m going to Google Earth and find it, I do remember the name from my youth.

America’s Most and Least Expensive Affordable Areas to Raise A Family. (CLICK HERE)
This is an in depth article about living costs in American cities. Interesting for data geeks. But I was shocked to see that New York was listed as the most expensive, shocked I say. What this does show is that where you live does matter. California needs to work on getting to the top of this list.

Here’s a list of the Top 25 Private Home Building Companies. (CLICK HERE)

Where are the healthiest housing markets? (CLICK HERE)
According to this list and the article, out of the top fifteen, seven are in Texas, four in Colorado, and only two in California—the Bay Area to be exact. What is more interesting is the Affordability Rank—why anyone would think of moving to California is beyond me. But for those of us here, have pity, we feel trapped in a gilded prison of drought and Coppertone.

Outside magazine took a pole of its readers and came up with The 16 Best Places to Live in America – 2015. (CLICK HERE)
The list certainly grabs your attention from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Lake Placid, New York. Note: there are no California cities listed – just saying.

And one last fun one:
California finally tops the list, The 10 Most Polluted Cities in America. (CLICK HERE)
In California’s defense, the Fresno-Madera, Ca. region sits in a bowl and with agriculture dominating the economy you get dust and all the usual mix of agricultural byproducts. The rest of America must have its veggies.

Stay Tuned . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are We Overbuilding Senior Housing?

This article in the Wall Street Journal (GO HERE) got me thinking about a number of things senior related. While housing is the most important – where, how much, equity, etc. – a number of other issues also come into mind, such as health, mobility, travel, and family. The focus on the WSJ article was on the businesses building housing for the older and more challenged seniors – most of whom are NOT baby boomers.

Senior assisted living properties coming on to the market today serve residents that are at least 75 years old and older. The first Boomers are now 69ish and even though maybe 10,000 of us do turn 65 each day is the magic number is age 66. I know there’s Medicare but it’s the SS check that really counts. And THAT is the problem: managing assets, health, properties, time, bucket lists, and family. So the issue of senior assisted living for most Boomers is irrelevant – and too soon. Now the businesses that are building these facilities need to be careful, true; but they will be ready (and if they survive) for the real press and need in about fifteen years.

The issue that I see confronting most of us in the over 65 crowd (and those soon to join us) is time, health, and equity. There are hundreds of experts out there willing to share their opinions on how to stretch your savings until your last breath—pleasant thought, eh? Nevertheless, it’s true, many of us have been successful in life, done right by ourselves and for their families and want, while still healthy, to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence, see Antarctica, do a photo shoot in Africa or Alaska. And most want to see their grandkids get married – something that today is a far greater chance than ever. We are healthier, richer, and often, wiser.

The senior housing (assisted, resort, second home) market is incredibly diverse. By far the majority of Boomers will age in place. Their home is literally their castle. They will stay until they can’t or won’t take care of it. That will be a wrenching moment, we have all been there, or will be, with our own parents when they/we are forced to find other housing. The difficulty of planning for that day is hard. Too many variables, too much emotion, and too much history. But we get through it and more often than not, end up better in the end.

The most critical issue is the equity in our properties—how do you cash it out and use it to live. Sure Social Security is there, but hardly enough to travel on and maintain the life you’ve grown accustomed to. So we look to our savings (equities, bonds, and assets) and how to meter their returns and their decline. Should we sell the home? And when? Should we reverse mortgage (and how do you really do that?)? What are our renting options? And where? Too many options—and so much time.

Stay tuned . . . . . . .