Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home


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Why Trust Rolf Kramer to help you when you Retire to Williamsburg?

Buying a home is one of the largest financial investments most people make in their lifetime. That is why it is essential for you to have the utmost confidence in your real estate professionals. You can have confidence in me as a member of the National Association of REALTORS® I subscribe and adhere to the association’s Code of Ethics and Standard of Practices.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate - licensed agent in Virginia

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate – licensed agent in Virginia, 757-564-4455

I have over 10 years of residential real estate experience and hold the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) designation, conferred by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), confirming mastery of buyer representation and a demonstrated performance in closed transactions. I have also earned the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation, conferred by Senior Advantage Real Estate Services, demonstrating my commitment to and interest in senior housing issues; and the E-Pro certification. As an Internet Professional, I received training in effectively communicating with the online consumer.

Through education and experience, I am committed to provide you with accurate information to help you make ‘Good Real Estate Decisions.’  I will impart up to the minute information about Williamsburg real estate regarding such things as current market conditions, neighborhood property values, comparable sales, tax assessment information, and other facts that may be relevant to your purchase. Identifying potential problems with a property and negotiating the best price on your behalf are two key elements to my representation.

As your trusted advisor, my priority is helping you realize your dream.  I will customize my service to meet your personal needs and provide the exceptional real estate service you deserve.

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Buy and Build BEFORE you retire – create your dream in baby steps

Build Your Retirement Home Before You Retire – in other words: Buy (or build) a vacation home now with an eye to retire there.

Buy and Build BEFORE you retire - create your dream in baby steps, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent

By Jeffrey R. Kosnett, From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, August 2013

Last February, Ken Means bought a 3,000-square-foot home built in the early 1990s on 80 acres of land. Located in the Ozarks near Cabool, Mo., it is six hours from Means’s home near Peoria, Ill., so he can’t go every weekend. But when he can spare a day or two, he works on projects such as building a pond to attract waterfowl. The property is ideal for Means not only because he is an avid hunter but also because all that land comes with a reasonably new house—as opposed to a wreck in need of restoration. Plus, shopping and other basic services are no more than 15 minutes away.

Means, who is 56 and owns a fire-equipment business, says that five years ago he started toying with the idea of buying a vacation home that he could eventually retire to. Now he says he may sell his business in as little as two years—so he can resettle sooner to his spread. Land is cheap in the Ozarks, so his new property set him back less than $300,000, house included. Property taxes of less than $1,000 a year are also low.

The Missouri Ozarks is a low-income area, so there aren’t many locals with the cash to bid up property values. Dollars aside, Means says the smartest thing he did before buying his house was to take the time to look at many properties and talk to residents and real estate agents. He knows he’ll be comfortable living there permanently when the time comes.

“You’ll want to buy something early enough to get it into shape before you do retire,” says Means. “You don’t want to retire and then work your butt off, because that defeats the point.” The remote property is unlikely to attract renters, so he’s not even thinking about a listing. Instead, he has opened the door to his family. His parents recently stayed for two weeks, and his sister and her family will vacation there for a week and a half.

When you’re ready to retire, there’s surely a manicured, gated subdivision with stair-free designs and an unchallenging golf course in your area. And the easiest (and perhaps least costly) decision is to stay in place and carry on, sans the commute (see The Benefits of Aging in Place). Some more adventurous retirees choose to move to a Sunbelt mecca or even to live overseas (see How to Retire Abroad).

But there’s another way: Buy or build a retirement home before you retire. You can enjoy it now for recreation and relaxation, years before you get the gold watch. You can use it as a weekend and holiday retreat, and you can expand or adapt it gradually so it can function as a permanent residence. The home doesn’t have to accommodate every luxury you’d ever want. The location and the lay of the land are the draw.

According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. vacation-home sales were a relatively modest 469,000 in 2010, rose to 502,000 in 2011, grew to 553,000 last year and will rise again in 2013. Prices are still depressed from the peaks of 2005 and 2006, the two years when Americans bought more than a million second homes. Still, prices rose 24% last year, to a median of $150,000 for existing properties.

With real estate prices booming again, could desirable recreational and resort-area property sell so fast that if you wait even one year to buy, you’ll strike out? Stacy Matherly, the real estate agent who sold Means his acreage, says she is inundated with e-mail inquiries from distant “sofa surfers” who are eager to go home-and-land shopping. David Knudsen, a real estate agent in Liberty, N.Y., says the second-home market generally trails the primary market by six to 12 months. It is definitely on the rebound, if still in the early stages.

Half of all second-home buyers pay cash. But that stat may be misleading because the transaction counts as a cash sale if the buyers draw on a home-equity line on their main residence to pay for abode number two. If you need a mortgage, note that the standards for vacation homes are tougher than for the purchase of a primary home. You will need excellent credit and a down payment of at least 20%. Plan on paying an interest rate on the mortgage that’s a little higher than for a first home.

Brokers who sell property within 150 miles of New York City say that affordable real estate still exists in the region, and buyers are tapping stock market profits rather than taking out bank loans to pay for it. For example, in Sullivan County, in the Catskills two to three hours northwest of Manhattan, there are listings for three-bedroom houses on five acres ranging from $200,000 to $300,000. These houses are rustic enough that you would probably want to invest in some upgrades. Direct water access, whether to a lake or river, and sweeping views pad the price substantially.

Not all preretirees are interested in an existing house, however, especially a dated ranch or bungalow. If you want to build, David Weiner, a New York City architect known for his glass-walled weekend retreats in the Catskills and the Berkshires, says the first and hardest job is finding the land. It can take as long as two years to get local permits. You can also expect to deal with environmental quirks; water and septic conditions are all over the map in rocky places such as Maine and other mountainous regions. In remote southern Colorado, where Weiner has also designed custom homes, people will pay a premium for building sites where there will be 320 sunny days a year to power their off-the-grid solar units.

In the East and Midwest, you’ll pay a premium for proximity to skiing and hiking trails, good roads, and beautiful vistas. Land becomes less expensive about a three-hour drive from a major city. The farther you go, the more land you can get for less.

Some architects will design second homes as small as 1,500 square feet. Weiner says most of his clients prefer a smaller weekend place anyway, because the cost of construction keeps creeping up—especially in rural areas, where the climate can require that the construction withstand storms, floods and wind. The total cost to build can easily reach $250 per square foot; combined with the cost of the land and the architect’s plans, you could be looking at $750,000 for even a pocket-size luxury home in a high-cost region such as New England.

Weiner says you should budget for a 10% to 15% overrun in building costs because something will go wrong, whether it’s a drainage problem or new regulations that magnify the cost of installing utilities. Fortunately, once you’ve acquired land, no one can outbid you. If you decide not to go ahead with the project, you should be able to sell the tract for a profit.

If you’re not ready to cash in your current house, or if you don’t want to or cannot borrow enough against your equity to swing the deal, you may have to negotiate a construction loan with a bank. You can eventually roll the balance into a 15-year mortgage or even pay it off if you profit enough from the sale of your primary residence.

Rent it for income?

To defray the costs of maintaining two homes, you may be able to rent your lair to short-term visitors (see Tax Breaks for Second-Home Owners). Insiders say the rental business is booming in most places, citing a high volume of bookings and rising rents at HomeAway, Vacation Rentals by Owner, Airbnb and other agencies.

In a survey by the NAR last year, more than 90% of vacation-home buyers said they planned to rent their new property within one year, and three-fourths of them expected rents to cover at least half of their mortgage. That’s more realistic now than it was during the recession, but you’re taking a chance if you expect your vacation home to function as an ATM to make the cash-flow numbers work. It’s better to buy or build something you can afford from current resources and shop diligently for the right property and price—even if your heart is telling you to rush to closing right after a memorable vacation.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. 


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About Rolf Kramer – who am ?

You know you are ready to retire. You know you want to live in Williamsburg, and you found this blog. But, why should you hire Rolf Kramer to represent you when you are searching for your home and negotiate a home purchase in Williamsburg?
 Rolf Kramer, Real Estate - licensed agent in Virginia
Rolf Kramer
REALTOR ®
ABR, SRES, e-PRO
Williamsburg Office
rolfkramer@lizmoore.com
(757) 564-4455 Cell
(757) 240-2584 Direct Fax
(757) 645-4106 Office
(800) 825-2707 Toll-free

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I provide my clients with state of the art technology, sophisticated marketing techniques, up-to-the-minute information, and the expertise demanded by today’s rapidly changing market. My services are backed by Liz Moore and Associates, devoted advocates for the consumer! Every home Liz Moore and Associates markets will have a professional and independent property inspection by an NAHI-certified home inspector, a market evaluation by a licensed appraiser, and a complete termite and moisture inspection by a bonded exterminator. Best of all, this is done at our expense. An innovation pioneered by Liz Moore and Associates, this process provides advantages for both buyer and seller. It allows our agents to accurately pinpoint true market value, ensures that you are advised of value and potential repair issues up front, before negotiating price and committing to terms, and avoids eleventh hour discoveries that can derail a sale. Liz Moore and Associates takes the surprise, and a lot of the stress, out of home buying and selling.

When I work for my clients they can always be assured that I will be truthful, do my very best for them and get the job done right. I learned this from building a 30 year professional consulting career. That career was based on a tradition of listening to clients and then delivering expert knowledge, advice, and determined hard work to help my clients fulfill their needs. That is what I do for my real estate clients.

As a Realtor, I have come to realize that I don´t buy and sell real estate. What I really do is help people change their lives. When people move from one home to another, it changes where their kids go to school, where their family worships, and their sphere of friends. It dramatically changes their lives. I have a big part in making that happen and I take that very seriously.

Making this family life change a successful change is what puts a smile on my face and in my heart. I really get a kick out of having my clients come back to me and thank me for the helping them get what they wanted, where they wanted to go, when they wanted to go, and without undue stress.

I am in the business to make money because my most important job every day is to create security, stability, and a future for my family. I build that business by working with people like you and taking excellent care of them and their real estate needs.

As a Buyer’s Agent: I employ detailed interviews to identify a client’s needs and review every available property through extensive resources, including several Multiple Listing Services, online newspaper classifieds, and For Sale by Owner web sites. Clients are immediately notified via email about any new properties that fit their needs. Clients are provided with their own internet portal where they can sort their properties into favorites, possibilities, and rejects. As a real estate professional and long time resident of Williamsburg, I offer my clients an insider’s perspective on the local real estate market.

As a Seller’s Agent: I use a variety of advanced marketing tools. Clients are provided enhanced Internet listings on http://www.realtor.com, http://www.point2nls.com, http://www.craigslist.com, http://www.backpage.com, http://www.rolfkramer.net, http://www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com, http://www.yahoo.com, http://www.googlebase.com, http://www.zillow.com, and http://www.trulia.com, which present their property to millions of online buyers actively looking to purchase. Buyers can directly access the property´s details, multiple pictures, and panoramic and 360° Virtual Tours. Properties are listed in two local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and lock boxes are provided for easy access by more Realtors. I use traditional marketing techniques that still help sell a house in today´s market: For sale sign and a box with flyers on the lawn for drive-bys; open house for the public; broker open house; advertising in newspapers and magazines, and ‘Just Listed’ postcards to neighbors. I maximize the market exposure of my client’s property to include all sources of first contact for home buyers.

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out  www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Choosing a Mortgage Lender, in Williamsburg, Virginia

Since a home may be the largest purchase you will ever make, choosing the right mortgage lender is a very important decision, and one you should make early in the home-buying process, before you begin your house hunting.

  1. A lender can help you narrow down your desired price range, both in terms of what you will qualify for, and also in terms of what’s comfortable.
  2. Having a thorough understanding of how much cash you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs is essential to know before you begin to formulate a negotiating strategy.
  3. Today’s sellers won’t accept an offer until they can review a written pre-approval letter. Many sellers require that pre-approval letter comes from a local, reputable lender.

Rolf Kramer, REALTOR

Which lender and financing program is best for you? The answer depends on:

  •  Your current financial situation
  • How you expect your finances to change over time
  • How long you intend to live in your home
  • Your comfort level with adjustable interest rates

I recommend local lenders in our market that I often work with and have selected based on consistently competitive rates and a variety of financing options. Each of the lenders I work with is committed to the same level of extraordinary service that I am.

I have lots of wonderful information about the Williamsburg area and if you follow this blog, you’ll learn everything you wanted to know about events, discounts, and why you should use me when you are ready to buy. Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for home-buying inspiration and to learn about hot spots in, and around, Williamsburg. 

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Do You NEED a Buyer’s Agent?

Rolf Kramer, REALTORWell, of course I am going to say an emphatic “Yes!” But, seriously, absolutely! Buying a home is the largest financial investment that most people make, and it’s one of the most complex.

A real estate agent’s job is to help guide you through the labyrinth of decisions you’ll need to make on the road to home ownership: financing, negotiating strategies, repairs, contingencies, inspections and much more. Why a Realtor? We must meet much stricter educational requirements than the law requires of licensees. I am not only bound by the law, but by the higher standard of the REALTOR Code of Ethics. and I will be committed to protecting your interests throughout the entire transaction.

I am full of great information about the Williamsburg area and if you follow this blog, you’ll learn everything you wanted to know about events, discounts, and why you should use me when you are ready to buy. Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for home-buying inspiration and hot spots in and around Williamsburg. 

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

 

 

 


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New Utilities in Williamsburg, Virginia – here are the numbers!

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Buyer's AgentIf you are getting ready to move into your new home, in or around Williamsburg, Virginia, here are the all-important phone numbers that you’ll need for hooking up your utility connections:

 

 

 

I am happy to help you with tracking down other hook ups and do have a team of experts that do everything from lawn maintenance to changing light bulbs to staging your home that you are leaving, in my reference file. Please feel free to call me, if any of these tasks seem daunting. And follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for inspiration.  Click here for my FREE Home Buying Guide. 

rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Serious Errors when Retiring – don’t make these mistakes!

The 10 Worst Retirement Mistakes was an article written in August of 2011, for Top Retirement’s magazine. It got so many comments, they revised it, and then revised it, again, down to the Top Six. Then, this month, they came out with a further whittled down list of the Top 6 Mistakes – below are the highlights, adapted from these three articles – read and learn! Then, contact me and let’s see what Williamsburg Communities have to offer the retiree!

The Top 10 Worst Retirement Mistakes, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent, Williamsburg, VA

Don’t make mistakes, when you retire—make it the best year of your life!

The 6 worst retirement mistakes you can make:

  1. Don’t build a dream house. There were several laments in one of our previous surveys from members who found it all too easy to get into building or buying a retirement dream house that got out of control. Only too late did they realize that what they were building was too big for the reality of their retirement. Too big means hard to maintain, heat/cool, and pay taxes on. It might not be set up with enough Universal Design features like one-floor living, no steps, accessible counters, door levers instead of handles, ability to add an elevator, etc. Children or grandchildren don’t come to stay as often as you thought they might, so don’t buy for them. Think about a house with at most 3 bedrooms, with one of those set up as an office. Or better yet, have an office that easily converts to the 2nd bedroom. Use the money you save to take the kids on a cruise. Just for fun, buy or rent the movie, “Tiny, A Story about Living Small“, on Netflix. It’s about the popular movement to very tiny (just over 100 to 300 sq.ft.) houses. While they are probably not for most people over 60, it does show you why you don’t need as much as you think.
  2. Don’t retire too soon. We’ve learned that way too many folks can’t wait to step into retirement, only to realize they miss work. If work is really important to you and you enjoy your job, why should you stop? If you truly hate your job or your boss, make a career shift instead.
    Others find they don’t miss the job so much, but don’t have enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The advice we hear is to postpone your retirement as long as you can – it will give you more time to save more money and build your Social Security benefits – which will give you more money to enjoy in your retirement.
  3. Don’t do any retirement planning before you retire. Sure, it seems like a lot to ask to concentrate on retirement planning while you are still working and have so many irons in the fire. But taken in small doses, you can accomplish important spade work that can improve your future retirement happiness. Here are 2 things that are easy to do along that line. First, take the quizzes in our Free Baby Boomer Guide eBook. We’ve had tremendously positive feedback from members who have used them as a starting point to tease out their own retirement priorities, as well as discuss them with their spouse or significant other. Second, devote a fraction of your existing vacation, weekend, and business trips for retirement scouting. Every time you travel, investigate the towns on your route as a potential “best place to retire”. Look around, ask people questions, take a tour through any active adult communities that might be in the area. Take notes, and even consider a plus and minus spread sheet you can refer back to.
  4. Don’t put your adult children ahead of your retirement needs. You’ve probably made a lot of sacrifices for your children, including putting them through college. They might or might not have turned out as successful as you had hoped, but now your retirement security is more important. Don’t cosign on a loan that jeopardizes your financial future. Don’t give them gifts or loans that are more than you can afford. If you don’t save everything you can now it might mean you have to struggle on a poverty level Social Security benefit. It might be difficult to draw the line, but if you don’t take care of yourself now, no one else is going to.
  5. Don’t buy before you live there. We hear this so often – “If I had just lived there for a while I would have realized….” Sure it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a community that seems to meet your every need and desire. But once the reality of living there comes, it might be too late to realize that it’s too far to drive for a quart of milk, that your neighbors have political views very different from yours, that the nearest town doesn’t have the amenities you wish it had, or that the medical resources are scant and far away. It can be difficult, but not impossible to live in a place before you buy. But if you can’t, make multiple visits, read local newspapers online, interview your neighbors and friend who might live there already, and at least take a “Stay and Play” package. Otherwise it is just too risky.
  6. Don’t take care of your health. You’ve heard the expression, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. Sometimes it takes a bad accident or sudden heart attack to realize that. But your retirement dreams can go out the window in a second with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or a medical condition that proscribes the activities you want to do. Not to mention the extra expense and hassle that dealing with the condition entails. So for goodness sake, protect your health. Go to the doctor and get the examinations and preventative tests you should. Follow a regular exercise program that your health permits. Cut down your risks: lose the extra weight, stop the smoking, keep drinking within the recommended limits. And we hope that translates into a long and happy retirement for you!

NOTE: When thinking about Number 5, I wanted to mention that Colonial Heritage has a Discovery Package – a weekend in one of the homes so that you can experience the property, the lifestyle, and your neighbors. If you would like to book a Discovery Package, please do so with me; I would love to help you get started with the “before you live here!”

Have you liked us on Facebook, yet?
rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VA

 

 

Rolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.