The Sandwich Generation

My generation is sometimes called the “Sandwich Generation”…we have our own kids and also aging parents, and we are often are helping both.

I have been helping clients transition for several years. I hold the Seniors Real Estate Specialists® designation through the National Association of Realtors. I am so glad I have this experience because I am now helping my mother transition from her home of 40 years to an Independent Living facility.  The article I recently re-posted on social media about Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff really hit home for me. I hope it can help you also.

So, what have I learned over the years that might help you?

  • While it is difficult to have a conversation with our parents about moving to independent living or assisted care, it is one that will likely be necessary at some point. Start talking about it early on, before it is time to make the move.
  • When it is time for the move, it may happen really fast! Having some idea of the facilities near you and/or your parent is important. Visit them ahead of time and start eliminating those you don’t like. You will be glad of the time saved when things move quickly.
  • If they have a home to sell, what is the current value? Do they or you have a Realtor® who can help you determine that? I help dozens of families every year with an updated market analysis. If you are not in the San Diego area, I can refer you to an excellent agent in your area who specializes in senior moves.
  • It is time for you and your siblings to take your “stuff” home with you, the things Mom and Dad have been keeping for you. Take it with you and either keep at your house or dispose of it.
  • If your parents have things that will likely sell at a decent price you need to know who the best estate sale companies are in town. What do they charge, how much lead time do they need (most need six to eight weeks minimum)? Will they dispose of everything remaining in the house after the sale?
  • Are your parent’s affairs in order? Is there a trust in place and is the designated Successor Trustee available for the sale, if necessary? If there is no trust or the trust has not been revised in many years, now is the time to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney to have a review and make changes if necessary, while your parents are able to make changes.
  • If there is a home to sell, open a pre-escrow and pre-title before you put the property on the market. The title company will review the trust documents before issuing title insurance. The trust documents must be in order or you will not be able to close escrow. I have had many transactions with older trusts and a recent Power of Attorney. The title companies have told me many times that “the Trust has priority over a Power of Attorney”.  If the trust does not mention a Power of Attorney, they may not accept one, so please seek the advice of an attorney.
  • Order a property inspection and wood destroying pest inspection of the home. Provide these documents to agents prior to their making an offer. It makes it much easier to sell a property in “As-Is” condition and without renegotiating halfway through a transaction.

Another great article is about The 4 Boxes Approach to help families start eliminating “stuff”.

If you need a consultation or help with this process just let me know. I would truly be honored to help you.

Some Things Are Hard To Change

What is it about women and their hair stylists? I don’t know a woman who doesn’t struggle with changing hair stylists. The exception is when we move out of the area and HAVE to change. But even then we struggle with the change…how do find a new stylist, the right one? What if we don’t like them, what if they don’t like us. What if we don’t like the products they use…it goes on and on.

I recently was forced to make a change. It was then that I realized just how long I had been going to the same stylist for my hair color. It started in my 20’s when I moved to San Diego and just added a few highlights for that “summer” look.  After my daughter was born, I started seeing a few gray hairs. After a while, we (my hair colorist and I) added color, to cover those pesky gray hairs AND highlights. Once my daughter was in college, the gray had outnumbered the non-grey and I no longer needed highlights, just color (am I seeing a pattern here…Does child-rearing have something to do with gray hair)?

When I moved to San Diego in the 1980’s and my search for a hair stylist here began. It didn’t take long, it was the second salon I ventured into where I felt at home. They were from New York City and had studied in Paris. I was impressed. And they were really good. The place busy with clientele from all over San Diego.

You may be wondering how many years has it been between then and now? 34 years. 34  years of monthly conversations about life’s ups and downs. About marriage, divorce, pregnancy, childbirth, work, fun, family, travel, health…you name it, we talk about it with our hair stylist. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays with them. We laugh and cry with them.

Why did I stay for 34 years? As I told an office friend recently when asked why I have stayed with the same real estate company for 23 of my 25 years in the business, there just wasn’t a compelling reason to leave. I was happy, we danced to the same tune. Why change for the sake of change? I believe in loyalty.

My friend of thirty-four years, my stylist, isn’t well now. Her health prevents her from working. I never thought this would be the way our story played out. I guess I thought we would be white haired old ladies together.

So, what is a girl to do? Fortunately, I have a great hair stylist who cuts and styles my hair. I had absolute faith in her that she could step right in and fill a big pair of shoes. And, she did, brilliantly. Thanks, Mandi. Who knows, maybe there are another 34 years on the horizon.


The Sleeping Porch

When I was a little girl (eight years old and younger), one of my best memories was visiting my grandmother’s childhood home in Ft Smith, Arkansas. My grandmother, our “Mimi”, grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. Her family moved to the big city of Ft Smith, Arkansas, when she was a teenager.

My family lived in Dallas when I was little and one would think that nothing could be more oppressive than the heat and humidity of a hot summer Texas night. But they had never been to Ft Smith, Arkansas.

I remember stepping out of the old claw foot bathtub in the Ft Smith house and never being dry for the rest of the day. Before you could dry off, the humidity had wrapped its arms around you and you were “damp” for the remainder of the day. “Damp” is a lady-like term for “sweating” where I grew up.

The “Sleeping Porch” was a screened in porch that wrapped around a quarter of the upper story of the family home in Ft Smith. In the “Sleeping Porch” of nothing but beds…the old-fashioned beds with lumpy mattresses and iron headboards. With cotton sheets and pillow cases that smelled like they had been freshly laundered and ironed. Some of the pillow cases had been hand embroidered by my grandmother and her sisters.

My sisters, cousins and I would climb through the “window” that led to the “Sleeping Porch” and the fun would begin. Pillow fights, arguing about who slept with whom, great aunts laughter … I can hear it now like it was yesterday.

As we “settled” for the night, the screened in porch allowed for the sweet, cool summer air to overtake us. We listened to the crickets and other “bugs”, looked at the moon and the stars and told stories until, one by one, we fell asleep.

Inevitably, when we awoke, the great aunts and my grandmother were already awake and gone, making us wonder what we had missed! We would bound down the  back stairs to a breakfast of whatever we wanted…yes, the great aunts would make whatever we wanted and laugh the entire time. The loved us well and unabashedly.

I wish I had told this story before I lost my lovely Aunt Carollyn earlier this year. I am glad I am telling it while my sweet Mother is here. sleeping-porch-bed-design-ideas Continue reading

Accepting the Unexpected…

Last week was one of those weeks that are just busy. One day was particularly challenging, in a good way. You know the kind of day: one phone call, email and text after another. Taking care of a few “challenges”, talking to potential clients. Before I knew it, it was almost 1:00 pm and I was starving.

I walked over to a great deli near the office and found it unusually crowded. But the wait gave me a chance to take a deep breath and start to relax. Just as I finished giving my order, I heard a woman’s voice behind saying, “May I buy your lunch?”.  I wondered who she was talking to and looked around. But there was no one there but the two of us. I was surprised, shocked actually, and asked “Me?”. She smiled and shook her head and said, “Yes, you.”

I am not proud to say that my first instinct was not to be gracious and say thank you. It was, “Why is she asking me? What is this about?” But, I took a deep breath, looked into her eyes and said “That would be so nice, thank you.”

We had a lovely conversation for the next 10 minutes while waiting for our lunches. I found out that she is a very spiritual person, she loves to read. She has two children and three grandchildren and she is very proud of them. She is studying Kriya Massage and contemplating that as a second career when she retires. She loves healthy, good food.

Our lunches arrived, we smiled and said goodbye. Maybe our paths will cross again. I hope so.

This encounter made my day. I left the deli with a different outlook than when I entered, I was smiling, had a lighter step, two-women-friends-talking-298x232and felt “good”.

It made me wonder how many other opportunities we miss in this life when we are so focused on ourselves that we don’t see the good around us; when we aren’t open to letting the unexpected into our lives and hearts. It is something to think about!

If You Wait For Perfection You Will Miss All The Fun!

I have been selling homes in San Diego for a long time, 20+ years. Before that, I worked for a home builder and a general contractor. So, it’s no wonder that I love everything about homes…looking at them, imagining them, planting gardens, filling my home with the glorious smells from the kitchen, decorating for the holidays, hosting family and friends in our home, and helping my clients buy and sell their homes. Yes, I love keeping a loving, warm and comfortable home for my family.

I was reading an article posted by one of my favorite cooks and bloggers, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman about cooking in small spaces.  It brought back memories of another time and place, about starting out in life as a young wife in a foreign country.

About a gazillion years ago (is that really a word?) I lived for two and half years in what was then West Berlin, Germany. Berlin SignThe story of why I was there and what I was doing there is another story for another day! I was young, in my early twenties and our apartment was not what I was accustomed to here in the US. We took very few possession with us. We looked at the opportunity as an adventure, and it certainly was.

The kitchen was teeny tiny, and I mean tiny. Just imagine filling up a little water tank on the wall above the sink and having to turn it on to heat up water to wash dishes. No garbage disposal. The oven/stove was apartment size, I could not get a regular size cookie sheet in it. Counter space? There wasn’t any. I did have a tiny kitchen table and I could put a board on top of the stove burners for prep space. And you know what? It did not bother me at all. I don’t know if it was because I was young or because small oven 2 (2)there was really no other choice!

I think about the holiday dinners I made, turkey and roasts with all the fixings. I even made Duck A L’Orange one time. I was young and fearless and not afraid to tackle anything. We had parties in our tiny place and no one seemed to mind the lack of enough seating for everyone, or juggling plates on their laps.

While I still like to “set a pretty table” (thank you Mother), plan and prep ahead, and cook wonderful food, the article from The Pioneer Woman reminded me that you can do that anywhere. It is the joy we give and receive that’s important, not the location or size or your kitchen that matters. Entertaining is so much more relaxed today. I find that many of my clients don’t even want a formal living or dining room any longer. In Southern California, we are blessed with the ability to entertain outdoors almost year-round.

table10So, don’t worry about everything being “perfect”. Don’t wait for the perfect home, kitchen, or cooking ability. Just go for it and have fun. Discover your own personal style, likes and dislikes. Learn from and laugh at your mistakes. Fill  your home with laughter and joy!

They Are So Cute!

Shoes 1I love shoes, always have. I am embarrassed to say how many shoes I have owned over the years. I mean, you need high heels, mid-heels and flats in all the basic colors. Sandals, Espadrilles, tennis shoes, shoes for those dressy occasions. Shoes for working in the garden and boots to ride horses. And then there are those shoes that you just have to have because they are so cute!

I have reluctantly donated many shoes over the years, and worn out even more. I am a real estate agent, so I am hard on shoes. When showing property, I sometimes walk two to three miles in an afternoon. I walk in dirt, over rocks and wet grass to find lockboxes when other agents don’t put them in convenient places and when taking photos. I am constantly scuffing and dinging my shoes on my office chair.

Yesterday, my eyes were drawn to a pair of cute little high heels on the shelf. I hadn’t worn those shoes in a while, at least over a year. I couldn’t remember why, and they were so cute and went perfectly with my outfit. Why not? They were my shoe choice of the day!

I spent the morning in my office and met clients at a home inspection in the afternoon. You might think a home inspection is boring and that the Realtors spend most of our time sitting around. But I usually take the opportunity to do my Agent’s Visual Inspection if I am representing the buyer. Of course, my clients and I follow the home inspector around while he explains what he has found. Because I love gardening, I usually spend time walking around the yard planning what I would do to it if I were the new owner. When the inspection is over, my clients usually like to walk around the home again, measuring rooms, space for refrigerator and washer/dryer, visualizing where they will put their furniture. It is such fun to see their excitement and anticipation, so I tag along!

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store and walked every aisle. Then went by the dry cleaners to pick up laundry. And stopped at a client’s home to drop some paperwork off. And, my feet were killing me!

I have to admit, I am just not 30 years old anymore and what my feet could take then and what they can take now just aren’t the same! I hate that. But it is my reality!

Reluctantly, these cute shoes are going in the donation box today. I hope someone will enjoy them as much as I have. THEY ARE SO CUTE!

Is Your Agent Keeping Your Home From Selling?


I recently spent a few days with clients being transferred to San Diego. They had never been to San Diego so we toured several areas and homes that seemed to fit their needs. My clients were here for a very short period of time, just a few days, and had limited time available to view homes each day.

I never expected to experience such difficulty in showing homes. Only two of the homes I showed had a seller’s phone number available for scheduling appointments. The others required an appointment made through the listing agent or their assistants. I have no problem with calling the listing agent for an appointment. What I do mind is the lack of cooperation we experienced for about half of the appointments.

When I show six to eight homes in a day, during a specific time period (usually two to four hours), I provide the seller, or their agent, an hour window of time when we expect to be there. I always call if we are running early or late, but that window usually works out. Being told that I need to “narrow it to a 15-minute time period” so the listing agent can meet us is an impossibility. Being told that “1 pm doesn’t work, can you be there at 5 pm” doesn’t either.  So, there were several homes we were not able to view, and my clients are well-qualified and motivated.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a listing agent also. I know what it is like to have agents who have made appointments to view a home and then they do not show up; I have received those phone calls from irate clients. I have had clients who had a situation that prevented the use of a lock box – an elderly client, an illness, when children are at home alone after school, a newborn, and other extenuating circumstances. But, the number of instances I encountered this past week makes me wonder if the industry is creating an illusion for sellers. That we, as the listing agent, need to be present at all showings; that we are somehow “protecting” them.

The new lock boxes actually track who has been in a home, the date and time. By making a home difficult to show it significantly reduces the number of buyers who can see your home. One of the buyers who can’t view your home may be the perfect buyer, but you will never know it. And, while we are experiencing a “Seller’s Market” in most areas of San Diego County, there were plenty of homes to view this last week, even though we were unable to view many.

Is this trend actually preventing buyers from being able to view the homes? We all know that we want as many buyers as possible through a home.  It will bring the best price and best buyer. Making a home difficult to show is like opening a new store in town and then have it open only an hour a day, and not at a time when most customers will be able to visit.

I recently sold a home in an area in which I was showing homes this past week. We had multiple offers within a week and sold the property for the full list price, much to the amazement of the “area expert”.  The home was priced well, but I wonder if the fact that it was on lock box and I had a very cooperative seller who let the home be shown at the convenience of the buyers and their agents made the difference?

Should we do a better job of educating our sellers about the importance of having their homes shown? Are we playing into our own egos when placing ourselves at every showing appointment?

And, don’t get me started on only being able to communicate with a listing agent via texting….

Selling A Home For Seniors – One Of My Joys!

oldercouplewebDid you know that as many as 1 in 14 home sales involve sellers over the age of 75? According to the National Association of Realtors, it’s true. Many of them have lived in their home for 40 years or more.  Not only have they accumulated a life time of possessions, but a life time of memories. Selling their home is an emotionally charged time in their lives and it’s hard for many to let go.

While many seniors have computers and use email, most are not as technically savvy as people in younger age groups, and they move at a slower pace. They are from an era before the old answering machines, much less cell phones. They would just “call back later” if someone’s phone line was busy.

Many real estate professionals love a fast sale and a 30 day escrow, but senior home sellers usually do not. It may take few months to plan and execute a move. They are not just packing up their belongings and moving to the next home. Most likely, they will be liquidating many, if not most, of their possessions. It can be a daunting task. Hopefully, they have family members who will help them with this process. It involves sorting through everything they own and often ending in an estate sale where things they spent a lifetime collecting are sold. Then they have to let go emotionally.

They may be moving in with family, to an Independent Living facility, or even Assisted Care. Their future may not one they planned for or really want.

For a Realtor, the process is different from most others. When I work with my senior clients, I spend a lot of time in their home; they usually do not come to my office. We often do not communicate via email; we talk on the phone or face-to-face. I am prepared to spend extra time with them to discuss their concerns, answer their questions, and even talk about their fears.  I let them know I understand how emotional this time is. I take documents to them for their review and signature. I try to anticipate potential challenges and mitigate them so there is no added stress. When appropriate, I communicate frequently with their family members to keep them informed about the process also.

My senior clients usually want to know something about the people who are buying their home. Knowing about them helps with the transition. Is it a family with young children or none? Are they a young family planning on starting a family?  Is it a single person or another retiree? They like to know that new memories will be made in the home they loved so much.

Working with seniors may take a little longer, but I love it!

Want To Live In The Best Place On Earth?


Being a Realtor in San Diego is different that being a Realtor in most parts of the country. We don’t have to take pictures winter and summer to show our homes at their best in various seasons. We don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or a snow storm keeping people from home shopping. We have to drive our kids to see snow! We usually don’t have to worry about people tromping mud through a home, or forgetting their umbrellas, or having to shed their warm coats and where to put them when looking at homes.

We can barbecue outside year round. You can go to the beach, the mountains and the desert all in the same day if you want to (not that I usually want to). We do have some amazing beaches…my favorite? Wind and Sea…it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

We complain about traffic, but it’s really nothing compared to Los Angeles traffic. That is serious traffic. They don’t count how many miles it is to go somewhere, it’s how many minutes or hours it is to go somewhere.

We can be outside enjoying beautiful weather all year round. I think that’s why our sports teams, while they have fans, don’t have fans like on the East Coast. There are just so many wonderful things to do here, so many choices every day that people often forego a sporting event for the beach, or a round of golf.  Our fans are called “Fair Weather Fans”, and I think that describes us pretty well!

I love that we can garden year round, vegetables, fruit, flowers, you name it. And, nothing tastes that food you have grown yourself. Although, my broccoli does not love the 80+ degree weather the last few weeks, may have to replant them. Such problems!

So, if you think about moving to San Diego from one of those “snowy” states, stop thinking and take some action. It is like living in Paradise!

The More Things Stay The Same…

coupleatvanwebYou have probably heard the old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. Well, it is often true in the real estate industry.

For instance, when I started helping clients buy and sell homes in the 1990’s, most people who wanted to “move up” to a more expensive home had to sell their current home first. That was considered normal.

In the early 2000’s, when lenders “loosened” their guidelines, most people could obtain a loan to purchase the new home and keep their current home, either to sell it later or turn it into an income property by renting it.

We are back to the “way things used to be done” when it comes to “moving up”. Most people these days will need to sell their current home before buying the new one. Homeowners have a couple of choices when they are in this situation.

  • They can sell their current home and move to temporary housing (with family, rent a place, I have even had people live in their RV’s).
  • They can sell their current home contingent upon finding a replacement home. Then we try to close both transactions within a day of each other.

I successfully closed a few transactions this way last year for the first time in many years; and I have another transaction closing this week where this was done. But we had three “legs”…my seller’s buyer had to sell her home and her buyers had to sell their home. We are closing all three transactions this week and have four happy families.

How do we do this? It requires cooperation, creativity, and tenacity!

Would you like more information about how it works? Just let me know!  I would love to help you, too!