Colorful lights, extravagant Christmas decorations, and the mess and mayhem that comes with the holiday season can be a lot of fun — unless you’ve got a For Sale sign in the front yard.
Few people choose to sell a house during the holidays, but sometimes they don’t have a choice. A job transfer, a sudden illness or death, or another unforeseen or unavoidable circumstance can land a house smack dab in the middle of the notoriously slow-selling holiday season.
The housing market is tight right now both here in Northeast Ohio and across the country. People are living longer, retiring later and generally staying put in their homes, creating a crowded market for potential homebuyers and young people trying to buy a home.
That can be good news for those who find themselves managing open houses and showings from mid-November through Groundhog Day in February. People are looking for houses year-round because there aren’t that many choices, particularly in desirable neighborhoods.
If you’re selling a house during the holidays, keep decorations simple. This isn’t the year for a Christmas tree in every room or inflatable Santas and Grinches in the front yard. Excessive décor can be distracting to potential buyers.
And although the holidays are a time for family visits and parties, it’s vital that sellers make their homes available for Realtor showings throughout the season. Be flexible. Keep your home show-ready; stash the holiday wrap, move the cookie tins, and clear out clutter to make rooms look open and appealing.
Keep a box of shoe booties near the entrance so people don’t track salt, mud and snow into your home. It will cut down on messy floors and make it easier to get ready for a last-minute showing if your Realtor calls.
Keep the walkways and driveways free of snow and ice....
Get Help with a Move
By Marie Elium
Almost nothing is more daunting than transitioning to a house, apartment or senior living community that better suits your lifestyle and needs for how you live today.
Each year, thousands of families help loved ones downsize. Many have no idea where to begin. Usually there’s a family home that’s packed full with a lifetime of furniture, collections and papers.
There’s an explosion of companies right here in Northeast Ohio that will manage a senior move. These professionals usually charge anywhere from $40 to $125 an hour. You can plan on spending about $1,500 to $5,000 for a job — plus the cost of the moving company.
Many families are unaware of the many professional services now available specifically for downsizing. These professionals will sort through each room and closet, help sell items, find a Realtor and manage every aspect of a move. A place to start is the National Association of Senior Move Managers (nasmm.org).
A senior move manager helps with the emotional and physical aspects of relocating older adults. A senior move manager is a great choice when family members live far away, are already managing other aging parents or the needs of children, have demanding careers and family issues, are physically unable, or are not available to do the work themselves for some other reason.
Here’s what a senior move manager can do for a family:
- Develop and coordinate a move plan
- Organize and sort for downsizing
- Create a customized floor plan for the new home or apartment
- Interview, schedule and supervise movers
- Professionally pack and unpack
- Set up and decorate the new residence
- Make the new residence safe and accessible
- Shop and purchase furniture and household goods
- Change utility services at old and new residences
- Handle shipping and storage of non-move items
- Arrange profitable disposal of unwanted items (auction, estate sales, buy-outs, consignment, donation, etc.)
- Stage current residence to appeal to buyers
- Clear and clean the former residence
If you’re considering hiring a move manager, ask these questions:
- What specific senior move service do you provide?
Convenience, Amenities for Seniors
With its top-notch amenities and convenient location, Harbor Woods in Brunswick is an affordable independent living option for people 55 and older.
The 127-unit apartment complex is small enough to offer a true community feeling yet large enough to have extras like a fitness center, library and beauty salon.
There are lots of places to explore nearby. Situated in the heart of Brunswick, Harbor Woods Living is close to shopping, restaurants and medical facilities. Woods adjacent to the complex offer a bucolic view for residents who want a bit more privacy.
Maintenance-free living attracts residents to Harbor Woods. The one- and two-bedroom units are under 1,000 square feet. Each has a washer and dryer hook-up, walk-in showers, wide doorways plus either a patio or balcony. The apartments are pet-friendly, too, with a 35-pound weight limit and breed restrictions.
Available for rent are storage units and detached garages.
To help residents who may eventually need some assistance with daily activities, Harbor Woods has partnered with a local senior care services company. Aging in place is made easier with meal prep, light housekeeping and other personal serivices, all provided for an additional fee.
Harbor Woods Living at Brunswick is located at 4255 Center Road. For more information, call 330-888-0393 or go to HarborWoodsLiving.com
Students and Seniors Discover Common Ground in an Uncommon Place
Justine Myers and Laura Berick’s friendship blossomed in an unlikely place: a senior apartment complex in the heart of University Circle.
Despite their nearly 60-year age difference, their friendship grew within the walls of an innovative intergenerational housing experiment started at Judson Manor in 2010. Justine is 25, an oboist and a graduate of nearby Cleveland institute of Music. Laura is 81, the grandmother of six, and a former first grade teacher and art gallery owner.
A few years ago, Judson Manor had a handful of apartments that were too small to use for their residents. They were the perfect size for a college student.
Housing in University Circle is always tight. Judson board members reached out to CIM. Was there a way to provide free housing in Judson Manor in exchange for an artist-in-residence program?
After working through a few concerns — would the staid Judson Manor turn into a party house for college students? Would students be comfortable living among older people? Did they have anything in common? (No, yes and absolutely yes) — the decision was made: Bring on the students.
Judson’s Artist-in-Residence program has transitioned beyond the experiment phase and settled comfortably into the friendship and co-worker phase. The only question now is, why haven’t more places tried it?
A NATURAL FIT
Laura’s apartment is a riot of colors and textures. Sculptures, intricate fabrics, funky furniture and sunlight all compete for attention. At the center is Laura, a spritely woman with a wide smile, close cropped hair and oversized glasses that seem to represent her oversized personality.
The residential experiment at Judson brought not only more music and art into her life, it brought Justine.
“This connection has value because it allows you to maintain a place in the world,” Laura says....
How do you know when it’s time to help a senior loved one move to housing that fits their needs? Even trickier, what if the family member resists a change?
It’s a common challenge for families throughout Northeast Ohio. Lee-Ann Spacek, a senior relocation specialist, explains when to call an expert and what to expect.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT — SENSITIVELY
When I first met Evelyn, she had been living in her three- story brick colonial for over 40 years. She raised her four boys there, entertained friends and created many fond memories. Since her knee surgeries, she had a chair lift installed on the gracious front stairway.
Her eldest son, John, called from Boston. “We have been trying to get her to move to a senior living community fe will be taken out of her houor about four years,” he said. “She tells me there is no way. She says shse ‘feet first.’”
John asked me to help his mother understand that it would be in her best interest to sell the family house and to make a move.
At my first meeting with Evelyn, I listened carefully as she took me through her home and shared her memories. We talked about her daily activities. She used only one level of the house. An accomplished painter and potter, Evelyn had not painted or thrown a pot for a long time. The paints were upstairs, and the potting wheel was in the basement. She needed assistance to do her laundry; the washer and dryer were in the basement.
I asked Evelyn: Is this house safe for you? Is this house convenient for you? Does this house serve and support your daily living activities?
Then I inquired about her. How is she feeling? It turned out she had not eaten much the day of our meeting, and she was feeling the symptoms of low blood sugar....
The produce shelves in Family Grocer in Akron’s North Hill are a snapshot of the exotic.
Pumpkin leaves, tiny eggplants, colorful peppers almost too hot to touch. Prickly-looking vegetables, skinny squashes. These are the foods that help feed a community of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants, among the latest to call this dynamic neighborhood home.
For decades, newcomers to this country have settled here and thrived. Italians, Poles, Hispanics and others followed family members for affordable housing and employment to gradually assimilate to their new country.
The learning works both ways. While they work to fit into their Northeast Ohio neighborhood, the existing residents gain plenty, too. Naresh Subba’s Family Grocer and dozens of other ethnic markets and restaurants are attracting people of all ages and ethnicities.
GROWING TOGETHER, NOT APART
In recent years, North Hill has been a centerpiece of refugee and resettlement due in large part to the International Institute of Akron. The agency on East Tallmadge Avenue is housed in an old brick building. Its labyrinth-like offices and cubicles host a steady stream of refugees and others seeking support.
These days, many clients are from Bhutan and other Southeast Asian countries. The agency earlier this summer received its first Syrian families. More are expected, said Liz Walters, IIA’s community outreach director.
Throughout the year, IIA hosts market tours and other events to introduce long-time residents to newer residents and their businesses. The small business owners — mostly of restaurants and markets — use the opportunity to talk about their immigrant or refugee experience. Refugees are people forced to leave their country, almost always because of violence. Immigrants are those who chose to leave, usually for economic or educational reasons.
Subba, 48, is Bhutanese and had lived in refugee camps in Nepal before moving to the area in 2002 to attend Kent State University....
My husband and I have been part of the “sandwich generation.” With moms who lived into their 90s, mostly in their own homes, we can speak to the pros and cons of that. Now navigating our own pre-retirement years — with an eye toward health costs, housing options and quality of life — we know there is no script to follow.
Maybe ahead of schedule we all can consider options in housing as we age. Housing changes need not be crises of sudden adjustment; instead, they can be studied moves — this could living out of state (for example, relocating to year-round warm weather), staying where you are or going into a development where costs and maintenance are low.
It’s hard to maintain four bedrooms plus ample yard when they are no longer necessary. Does it support your lifestyle? says Lee-Ann Spacek, owner and founder of North Coast Residential Relocation.
“When I give presentations, I share what my aunt told me years ago: ‘Be careful what you get used to because you can get used to anything,”’ Spacek adds. “That goes for the dripping faucet, the wavy roof, the electrical outlet that doesn’t work and, possibly, the damp corner of the basement.”
She has helped hundreds of individuals, couples and families weigh factors in choosing a residence as their needs change.
“I ask my clients to ask themselves: ‘To whom is this house best suited?’” Spacek says. Consider the answer honestly. Letting go can be difficult but also freeing.
PUT TOGETHER A PLAN
“People should start looking at their choices within five years of retiring,” Jim Patena, administrator of independent living at Jennings, says. “They can take their time to see what is out there and either find something that fits their desires or at least have ideas if the time comes that they desire a move.”
“With less things and removing household chores ....