Lowering Housing Costs in Your Golden Years


So, you’ve hit that stage in your life. The freedom you could only dream about when the kids were small. When the days were filled with work and carpools and striving for bigger and better houses, private schools and cars. Once that whirlwind is over and the last teenager has moved on there comes the day when you look around and wonder if things could be simpler, less expensive and if your life could contain more adventure, more freedom. Perhaps you’d like to travel more or even dream of retiring to an exotic location. It could be time to look at other options and vacuuming all those empty bedrooms isn’t really fitting in with your daydream.

So how can you cut your housing costs to enable you to enjoy a little more freedom?

Downsize – Want to Stay in the Area?.

  • Sell the house and buy a condo. With condominium living you can reduce the maintenance burden of taking care of the yard. By buying a less expensive dwelling your mortgage and property taxes could potentially be reduced.
  • Another option is a retirement community. There are many options. A lot of these places are country club living with all the amenities you can imagine. However retirement communities often come with a higher price tag so it’s important to do the math when considering this option.
  • Maybe you could even look at a senior Manufactured Housing Community for folks 55 and up. Many of these Parks have activities, clubhouses, pools and more and can be an affordable option to free up your overhead.

Reverse Mortgage – Stay in Your Current Home

  • You love your neighbors and your home and you’ve built up a good portion of equity. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a federally insured mortgage product that allows you to stay in your home and take payouts from your surplus mortgage. The proceeds are required to pay off the existing loan. This option isn’t for those who want to bequeath their home to heirs. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage check with a qualified lender and talk to your accountant. Best to be informed of all the nuances involved.

Move to a Retiree Friendly State

  • Many states have lower costs of living, low or no sales tax and no state income tax. Once you’re in a position where the higher taxes for good schools, etc are no longer relevant to you these locations can make a lot more sense.

Travel or Retire Abroad –

  • There are several reasons why packing it up and moving to another country make sense. For one the cost of living in many countries is much less. Some countries have had financial hardships as of late and the Real Estate prices are depressed. This makes for a ripe opportunity to pick up desirable property on the cheap. And then there is the healthcare aspect, like in Costa Rica where the healthcare costs are very affordable.

Making the decision to reinvent your living space or area is exciting and a little scary. But when the wanderlust strikes follow it’s lead. You never know what awesome adventures and new friends are waiting for you out there when you decide to make the change.


The Up-Side of Professional Photography

When the time comes to sell your home, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.HomePG-Slider3

And, as it turns out, a professional picture is worth even more. According to a study by real estate photography firm VHT Studios, online home listings with professional interior photographs sell more quickly than homes for sale with amateur pictures posted. VHT Studios studied Chicago homes for sale in 2013 and compared days on the market with the use of professional photography. Regardless of price range and specific neighborhood, listings with professional pictures sold an average of 32 percent faster. In the study, the average listing with professional images spent 8A Professionally Staged and Photographed Home Creates an Online Picture that Attracts Buyers to Take a Look in Person..5 days on the market compared to 123 days for listings with ordinary photos. That’s a five week difference! The results of the study show that, if you want to sell your home in the Tri-Valley faster, it’s wise to hire a professional photographer, even if your home isn’t a mansion or million-dollar estate.

First impressions are vitally important. When homebuyers have so many different properties to sift through, eye-catching photos can make the difference between passing your listing by and deciding to visit it in person. online listings with professional photographs are even more important when you note that online real estate searches have gone up 243 percent in the past four years. House hunting has shifted almost exclusively to the internet. Most realtors even market their properties on social media, the perfect platform to showcase professional photos of the interior. Remember, good photos aren’t the only avenues that can speed up the selling process.

Staging makes a huge difference as well, since professional images of a professionally arranged living room or bedroom amplifies the desirability of the home. Virtual tours are another useful tool to showcase your property in the best possible light. For more information about how to sell your home fast, please contact Tri-Valley-Homes today. We’ve helped homebuyers and sellers find their true match since 1989.


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“I’m looking at my Buyer/Borrower Statement. What the heck are all these fees?”

Understanding the Fees

closing cost analysis

Pre-1976 – Mobile Homes

Let’s assume that you’ve got all your negotiations completed. You’re approved for your space rent in the Park where you’ll be living and you’re ready to pay for your new home and sign your paperwork to transfer the title. You’ll be getting an estimated statement of your transfer costs from the title company that will be similar to the one above. This example shows a mobile home. The definition of a mobile home is a home built before June 15, 1976. These homes are registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles much like the car you drive. You will receive a registration renewal in the mail yearly.

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Let’s go line by line with our explanations.

TOTAL CONSIDERATION – This is the total price you’re paying for your home.

Initial Deposit – This is the dollar amount that you paid to open the escrow also known as an Earnest Money Deposit.


Registration – You will pay a prorated amount for the registration per day from the date of closing until the registration due date. Depending on the amount of time left until the registration is due you will likely pay for the following year as well. Ex: $74.00 per year from 5/7/14 – 7/31/15 = $91.29.

Rents – You will pay a prorated amount for the current rent from the day you close escrow until the end of the current month. Ex: $985.30 per month 5/7/14 – 6/1/14 = $788.24.


Escrow Fee  – This is the fee the escrow company charges to facilitate the transfer of ownership.

HCD Document Preparation Fee – This is the fee that the Department of Housing and Community Development charges the prepare the transfer documents.

Archival Fee – This fee ensures that the escrow company will archive your documents should you need to reference them later.

Bank Wire – This is a fee for the wiring of the funds from the lender or from a personal account into the bank account of the seller.

Overnight Mail Fee – This fee is required for funds to be transferred to the agents who were parties in the transaction to receive their commissions.

Loan Tie-In Fee – This fee is to bring the funds from your lender into the escrow to pay the seller.


New Security Agreement – This is a credit amount showing the total amount your borrowing for your home.

Lender Fee – This is the amount the lender is charging to facilitate the loan.

Origination/Tax/Flood – This is a fee the lender charges for originating the loan and for certain disclosures to satisfy the insurance requirements.


Mobile Home Recovery Fund Fee – The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) requires this fee on all transfers. It is a fund that is there to satisfy judgements for buyers or sellers who have lost money as the result of failure to honor warranties or guarantees, fraud, willful misrepresentation, or conversion; willful violations. For a detailed explanation go to: FACT SHEET 

Park Purchase Fee – This is a fee that HCD charges when transferring title on a home that is in a leased land mobile home park.

Registration Service Fee – This is a fee that HCD charges to add, delete, or change the lien holder.

Transfer Fee – HCD fee to transfer the title to the new owner.

Use Tax – Use tax and sales tax are basically identical. They are collected at the same tax rate. This rate is dependent upon the county and city location of the manufactured home, mobilehome or commercial modular. If you buy a used manufactured home or mobilehome subject to annual registration, use tax will be calculated upon the retail value, determined by either the Kelley Blue Book, National Automobile Dealers Association Manufactured Housing Appraisal Guide (N.A.D.A.) or the Purchase Price (actual sale price) which ever is less. Use tax is due at the time of transfer.

Title Release – Fee charges by HCD to release the ownership form the previous to the current owner.

Legal Owner – A Legal Owner can be a Bank, Business, Lending Institution, Mortgage Company, Private Party, etc., with whom you have secured a loan and have used your Manufactured Home, Mobilehome, Commercial Modular, Floating Home or Truck Camper as collateral. The Lender will be recorded as Legal Owner and will be issued the Certificate of Title (ownership document) to be retained until the loan has been paid in full.

Here is a full SCHEDULE OF FEES for the Department of Housing and Community Development for transferring ownership.


Notary/Notary Public – There will be signatures that must be notarized by a licensed signing agent when signing your closing papers at the title company. The fee will depend on how many signatures require notarization. Typically the fee is $10.00 per signature. A notary will travel to your location to notarize your documents for an additional travel fee.

Insurance Premium – The first years insurance on your mobile home is oftentimes paid through the escrow for the first years insurance. Insurance premiums can be paid outside of the escrow if that is your preference.

First Months Rent – The Park will be paid for your firsts months space rent through the escrow. Deposits or additional rents collected through the escrow will be determined by the Park you will be living in.

Security Deposit – Some Parks require a security deposit that will be returned to you at some time in the future according to their procedures.

Title Search –  HCD conducts a title search to ensure that the transfer of ownership will be free of any and all encumbrances.

Difference Between Old and New Rent – You will be charged per day for the difference of the current rent rate and the previous owners rent rate.

Once all the charges have been calculated you will have the total amount needed to bring to your closing. The example I have shared with you is for a purchase of a ‘MobileHome’, meaning a home built on or before 1976. There are a few differences for a Manufactured Home by definition. The fees collected by HCD are pretty much the same.

I hope this article helps you to decipher your closing statement. I’d love to hear you questions or feedback!

Staging – Why it’s Important

HomePG-Slider3Realtors everywhere will tell you, we’ve seen it all. The clutter, the messes the animals and humans have made and the general disarray. We look around when assessing a home for sale. What’s that water stain on the ceiling, we ask. We walk the tight rope of navigating the homeowners pride in their home and the need to help them understand the importance of first impressions. Most homeowners know it’s important to keep a home clutter free, clean and bright while the home is on the market and open for showings. But sometimes having the home professionally staged can make a big difference in how the prospective buyers view the home.

Home staging can help to sell your home faster and for more money.

When a home is professionally staged it allows the buyers to better visualize themselves in the home and can increase the value in the buyers eyes. According to NAR (National Association of Realtors) 49 percent of surveyed Realtors who work with buyers believe that staging positively impacted the buyer’s view of the home. Only 4 percent thought that staging had no impact. The consensus is that staging a home for sale can have up to a 10% increase in the selling price of a home.

In order to have a competitive edge when selling a home it’s important that the home be priced right and look better than the competition. According to Barbara Brock, president of A Proper Place, a Manhattan-based home staging,  decorating and professional organizing company, “The objective is to have  potential buyers walk in and envision the property as their home. They can see  themselves living and entertaining there. It’s all about creating a space that makes buyers connect emotionally to it. They  should feel as if they were the owner, not a guest. As a seller, In order to do  this effectively, you need to make your house as impersonal and attractive as  possible to stimulate the buyer’s visual acuity.” Besides the basic cleaning and repairing, Staging has five basic elements: De-clutter, Pare down, Position furniture, Color, Lighting.

So what rooms should you stage? In order of popular opinion the number one room to stage is that living room. Next is the kitchen followed by the master bedroom, the dining room and the bathroom. And don’t forget curb appeal. Cleaning up the landscaping and planting fresh flowers presents a good visual when prospective buyers are walking up to the home. First impressions really do matter.

Home staging is important because it highlights the home’s good points and minimizes it’s less than stellar points. It maximizes the perceived value of the home. It is a smart investment and can ultimately get a home sold for more money in a shorter amount of time.




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