Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home


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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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Ready to Buy? Let Rolf Kramer Real Estate Agent Specializing in Retiring in Williamsburg HELP!

You probably have experience buying and selling real estate.  However, if it has been a long time since the last real estate transaction, you may need to learn about some of the things that have changed since your last transaction.  For example, disclosure laws, buyer representation, and reverse mortgage financing are all relatively new for buyers and sellers.  For those of you that may need a refresher, we can provide you with complete information about today’s home buying process.  Here is a great home buying guide to help you understand the current home buying process: “The Perfect Fit, Home Buying Guide“. You can also check out our Buyer ReportsFrequently Asked Questions, and Real Estate Glossary. Buyers no longer need to represent themselves during the home search and purchase, while all agents represent the seller. Smart home buyers today can receive undivided confidential representation by choosing a “Buyer’s Agent.”  Find out more about Buyer’s Agents and how we can represent you and protect your interests during your home purchasing process.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate

Financing Your Home

The first step has not changed much.  You need to know how much you want to spend. Will you get the money from the resale of your current home? How much can you afford or qualify for?  In today’s financing process it is critical to check your credit report to know your credit worthiness.  Clear up problems, if any, before going to a lender.  A good credit rating will result in you receiving lower interest rates.  Your credit rating will also affect the rates for the property insurance on your new home.  Read more about the New Reality of Property Insurance.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage from a mortgage broker or lender, with a commitment to fund your mortgage in writing.  Ask about the various types of mortgages to find the one that may be right for you.  There are many more options than there were even five years ago.  Once pre-approved for a loan, you will know your price range to begin shopping for real estate.

Finding the Right Lifestyle, Neighborhood and Home

Check out the various lifestyles that Williamsburg has to offer.  Whether you choose an active adult community, a golf course or country club community, waterfront living, urban condominium, suburban single family, or if continuing care is needed, you will find them here.

Determine the type of neighborhood you are looking for.  Do you prefer a neighborhood with lots of trees, one in the middle of town or out in the country?  Would you like to have easy access to a highway?  Do you prefer a community with a Home Owners Association or one without?

Make a wish list of all the specifications you want in your home.  Prioritize the list based on your wants and needs.  Next, mark out those aspects that you are willing to compromise on, in case you need to.  Then start searching for your home. You can search the Williamsburg MLS right from our website, or you can have us do it for you.
Review the property listings that meet your needs.  Select properties to see in person and then tour them with us, your Buyer’s Agent.  Once you have selected the property that best meets your needs, we will generate a Comparative Market Analysis to determine the market value of the property.  We will then write and negotiate an offer to purchase the property.

Closing the Deal

Once the contract is ratified we will continue to represent you and assist you throughout the post-contract procedures.  This will include participating in a professional home inspection, selecting your settlement attorney, obtaining property insurance, contacting utility companies, conducting the pre-settlement walk-through, and the Settlement at your attorney’s office.

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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Why Hire Rolf Kramer?- Testimonials

This is my biggest accomplishment, as a real estate agent in Williamsburg – hearing the Happily-Ever-After Stories of clients that have used me as their buyer’s agent, when purchasing their retirement home, in Williamsburg. Enjoy reading them, as I did.

it's the perfect time to rewrite your story

Al and Gloria “It is truly a pleasure to recommend Rolf Kramer to anyone who is buying or selling a home in the Williamsburg area.  Over the past 18 months we have been dealing with Rolf and have continually been impressed with his knowledge, professionalism, patience, thoroughness and follow through in helping us to acquire our ideal home.  Rolf was really a partner in our search and deliberations.  He provided expert counsel in all aspects of our purchase and was with us at every critical step of the way.  He provided us with comprehensive research and in depth analysis during our deliberations.  He got to know our needs and desires and helped keep those things in focus for us.  Rolf’s attention to detail helped us avoid potential problems on more than one occasion. Rolf is by far the best Realtor from our point of view that we have encountered in over forty years during which time we bought and sold six homes.  He truly made us feel that he was “walking in our shoes.”  He invariably went the extra mile in seeing that we were satisfied and continued to provide help and guidance even after we had settled into our new home”

Terry and Pat “Now that we are in our home in Williamsburg we want to thank you so much for your help and guidance in making this dream a reality!  The dream was to have a home that was located in an area that was convenient to shopping, Colonial Williamsburg, restaurants, grocery stores, and all the activities that the city has to offer.  A tall order but, with your real estate knowledge, you found it for us.  We love our home in New Town and we appreciate your persistence in finding just the right place for our needs.
Through this process, you always answered our calls promptly and went out of your way to fine-tune the building process.  You helped us through the inspection phase as well, and for that, we are truly grateful!  As our Realtor, you went way beyond the call of duty.
In closing, your knowledge of the Williamsburg area, your helpful list of business referrals, and your attention to our needs helped our move tremendously.  After buying and selling homes in the past, you stand out as the most competent realtor who has ever worked with us.  Thanks for your professional expertise and for making the search for our perfect Williamsburg haven a very pleasant and fulfilling experience.”

Paul and Darla “Rolf is the Realtor of choice.  He provided the absolute best service possible — a perfect combination of personal and professional skills.  This was a very difficult move for my family and he was instrumental in minimizing stress and pain.  He is the epitome of a great employee.  I will return for all future real estate transactions.”

Joe and Andrea “I highly recommend that anyone searching for a house in the Williamsburg area to contact Rolf Kramer.  It’s perhaps the best decision I have made in years (besides the purchase of my home in Williamsburg).  Rolf really cared that I find the best house for me and my wife.  Rolf helped me formulate a game plan and to narrow my interests into a workable formula.  For months, he sent me emails with pictures and descriptions of homes.  We visited 25 homes or more during several trips to Williamsburg.  I got a good grasp of my alternatives, before finally deciding to buy a house in Colonial Heritage.  Since I bought the house, Rolf has pitched in and helped us a number of times.  My wife and I look forward to maintaining a relationship with him even though his “job” is done.  Rarely have I found someone with such capability, insight, dedication, dependability, and integrity.  You can´t go wrong if Rolf Kramer is your agent.”

Mary and Paul “Thank you so much for helping us find our dream home.  Your personal service made the search enjoyable and educational for us.  You really took the time to get to know what we were looking for, and were able to identify possible properties for us to explore our options.  Your thorough knowledge of the Williamsburg/York County area saved us a lot of time searching and helped us get settled in after closing.  We definitely recommend you as our “go-to” real estate agent.  It was our pleasure doing business with you and we wish you much success in the future.”

Carol and Bill “Mary Lou, We are indebted to you for finding us a home at the Villages of Westminster and handling so many details (as well as my irracibility) via long distance and e-mail.  You are a credit to your agency and a real “Pro”, as well as a charming person who obviously truly cares about her clients.  Our hats (if we wore them) are off to you!
Many thanks, again, and we’ll stay in touch.”

Andy “Truly outstanding – Rolf brings only the highest professionalism and integrity to being a real estate agent.  Your advocate and champion, he uses his vast knowledge, infinite patience, and wealth of experience and contacts to make the often-troublesome process of finding and buying a home both pleasant and uneventful.  I would recommend him wholeheartedly to anyone, without hesitation or reservation.”

Kit and John “Rolf is one of the greatest Real Estate Agents we could have possibly asked for.  We really knew little of the Williamsburg area and instead of jumping from one community to another; he showed us properties in such a manor that we knew where we were at all times.  He also stayed within the price range that we told him in the beginning, which is rare in agents today.  After our first day with him, we decided that evening that he had been honest with us throughout the process and we knew that he was the agent for us.  We were very lucky to find him.”

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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Home Safety Tips for When the Grandchildren Come to Visit

We all want to be safe, secure, healthy and strong – the easiest way to stay that way is to live in a home where we feel the safest – HOME. Simple, easy steps can make your home the safest place you’ll visit all day:

  • Use approved safety gates when the grandkids come to visit
  • Keep the grandkids strapped into highchairs or strollers
  • Install window guards to prevent falls
  • Actively supervise children in the bath
  • When the bath is over – drain the tub — IMMEDIATELY
  • If you have a pool, install a 4′ fence
  • Store poisons out of sight and reach
  • Keep all products in their original containers
  • Install smoke alarms and make sure that batteries are tested every six months
  • Practice a home evacuation with children
  • Keep all towels and oven mitts away from the stovetop
  • Blow all candles out when you leave or go to bed
  • Don’t hold a child, while cooking (and use the back burners)
  • Put all your pill boxes and medication out of reach and sight
  • Make sure any top-heavy furniture is strapped to the wall
  • Make sure babies sleep on their backs and in their own beds
  • Avoid using soft bedding or stuffed animals

Home Safety Tips for When the Grandchildren Come to Visit

In closing, realize that over 2,200 children die, each year, in injuries that happen in the home. Make sure that you keep those precious blessings very safe, when they come to visit. PS….take lots of pictures to savor and remember every moment, won’t you?

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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. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Make 2015 a Safe Holiday for the Grandkids

The holidays were made for grandparents – you reap all the reward this time of year, don’t you, you old spoiler! Spoil them rotten, be the big hero, feed them all sorts of goodies and then send them home with your adult children – what isn’t to love about this time of year? Make sure you and your grandbabies are safe, this holiday, by remembering these tips:

  • Decorate your tree thinking about little children and glass breaking
  • Water your tree regularly
  • Check every wire as you hang lights for frayed wires or loose sockets
  • Blow out all candles (hide the matches out of sight and out of reach)
  • Keep harmful and poisonous plants out of reach
  • Read all toy labels and consider age suggestions for toys that you purchase (for choking hazards, specifically)
  • Hide all batteries (especially the button batteries for hearing aides or small toys)
  • If you are purchasing any ride-on toys or bicycles this year, don’t forget helmets
  • Teach your older children how to cook – safely – this year. This gift will keep on keeping them safe, after they return home
  • Check your car seat before holiday travel (do this at the Fire station, here in Williamsburg)
  • Use a booster seat – this helps children be able to use the normal safety belt at a safe place on their body (without the booster they are in danger because of the belt’s placement on their neck)

Make 2015 a Safe Holiday for the Grandkids - Rolf Kramer

During the holidays, thousands of children are seen for toy-related injuries and injuries from glass ornaments. Be safe and enjoy the holidays with your precious grandchildren.

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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. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

 


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How to STOP Losing Your Mind!

Short term memory loss is a part of growing older. But, your instincts tell you when the situation has turned a corner. If you are suspecting that your memory is wrecking havoc, slow the process with the tips, below. Here is your homework:

Rolf Kramer, Retiring In WIlliamsburg

Stop Losing Your Mind With This Homework

 

Consult a doctor. If your memory loss is bad enough that it severely inhibits your everyday life, visit a general practitioner. He or she can evaluate your symptoms and refer you to an appropriate neurologist, immunologist or other specialist to treat your condition. It is important to set your mind at ease about the possibility of underlying medical conditions causing the memory loss, otherwise you risk adding anxiety to your frustration.

Set up a daily routine. While a daily routine won’t improve your short term memory, it will help you overcome some of the difficulties you experience as a result of short term memory loss and lessen the frustration. The security of your routine will let you focus on the fun parts of improving your memory, not on stressful parts of losing it.

  • If you regularly misplace your eyeglasses or car keys, try putting them in the same exact place every day, without fail.
  • Create special spots for all items that tend to go missing and make an effort to always put the items in that spot.
  • If you struggle to remember whether you’ve eaten or taken your medication, stick to designated mealtimes and purchase a days-of-the-week pill container that you stock up every Sunday night.
  • Set alarms on your phone, computer or clock to remind you.
  • Write down your routine so you won’t forget it. Post it somewhere prominent, like on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator, or enter it into your calendar app with reminders or on a wall calendar in a place you pass often.
  • Write down every appointment or social engagement as soon as you make it. Program it into the calendar on your phone, or carry a small paper day-planner with you. In fact, doing both is ideal, as the act of writing helps to solidify the memory.

Keep a journal. If you struggle to remember what happened during the previous day, start keeping a journal. Jot down important items of information or other things you’d like to remember, even food intake, people whom you said you’d catch up with again and books read. Review as necessary.

Try remembering smaller chunks of information. If you need to memorize something important and you’re finding it difficult to do so, separate the information into smaller groups. The most common example of chunking is phone numbers—–instead of trying to remember one 10-digit number, most people find it easier to remember two 3-digit numbers and one 4-digit number, like 123-456-7890. Try this technique with grocery lists, birthdays, names or other things you want to remember.

Lastly, go back and re-read Seven Ways to Stop Losing Your Mind! The more you work on exercise and healthy lifestyle, the stronger your mind will stay.

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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. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Looking for Home Ownership in Williamsburg? Call me!

Whether you are brand new to the area or an area native, the real estate agent you select in buying your retirement home, may be the most important decision you will make. I take my role, as your Buyer’s Agent, very seriously and look forward to representing you not only in this purchase, but to becoming your family realtor.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate

Home ownership in Williamsburg has proven to be a very solid long-term financial investment, providing both equity accumulation and tax benefits and this is a wonderful place to call home… rich in history… and offering everything from sandy beaches to recreation to diverse economic and cultural opportunities.

I know Williamsburg and its retirement communities, VERY well and pride myself on helping you select the IDEAL retirement community – community being key. I listen and learn your interests and your passions and figure out the best retirement lifestyle for you, and show you only homes in those communities. I will also do everything that I can do to assist you in your move and want you to have confidence that you are making the right decision to PICK ME!

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.