Living Facilities Provide Support as We Age

As we and our loved ones age, sometimes we need to readjust living situations to get the support that is needed in all stages of life. There are a wide variety of housing options to fit any age, health, or desired residency services.

Congregate Living

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Congregate living is commonly known as residential care, custodial care, or support housing. It allows for independent living and privacy while still having access to continual supervision and care. Congregate living offers private apartments as well as common areas where residents can socialize. The facility may offer convenient services, such as cleaning and laundry, transportation outside the facility, and even meals in the common dining room. Congregate living facilities have 24-hour staff to check up on and assist residents.

Assisted Living

Assisted-living facilities are long-term residency options that offer personal care. For example, facility services usually include laundry, transportation, personal care (bathing, dressing, etc.), housekeeping, shopping, exercise or social activities, medication assistance, and all meals.

If you or a loved one are struggling to care for personal well-being and a home, assisted living is a valuable option. Assisted-living facilities are a benefit for those with declining personal hygiene, a disorderly or dirty home, an empty refrigerator or panty, or perilous forgetfulness.

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Nursing homes have two distinct residency options. Nursing homes house and care for short-term residents who are recuperating from surgery or illness or are in need of physical therapy. Nursing homes also house and care for long-term residents that need additional medical and personal care beyond that of an assisted-living facility.

Whether residents are short or long term, nursing facilities typically offer private or semiprivate rooms with shared bathrooms. Since the facility focuses on providing medical care, social activities are usually minimal.

Accessory Apartments and Add-On Living Spaces

Some houses might have the space and structure for add-on living spaces, which can allow you or a loved one to stay close to and be cared for by family or friends. Add-on spaces can be free-standing structures, like a small house in the same lot, or can be an additional apartment or complete living space within the home. These add-on living spaces generally have their own separate entrance, bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen or cooking facility.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) are facilities that offer several levels of care within one location. Facilities can include independent living, assisted living, special care living (memory, etc.), and nursing and rehabilitation. These communities can carefully guide residents through varying stages of health and aging. Residents can feel secure in knowing they will be cared for, without having to move, as their needs change.

Small-Scale Assisted Living

Small-scale assisted living, often called foster care or group homes, can offer simple board and care in a smaller, home-type setting. Generally, these facilities are private homes that have been converted to offer care for four to ten residents. These facilities work to serve people who do not want to or cannot live independently but don’t need a nursing-home environment.

Living Facilities to Match Our Needs as We Age

There are incredible housing options to support us and our loves ones as we age. There are living facilities for those who prefer a private home setting and for those looking for a full-care facility. Carefully consider how you and your loved ones can best live comfortably and what you want in a care facility or home, then make the plans and preparations so you and your loves ones can be happily cared for.

—Stephanie Bentley

 

Understanding Rules on Owning Animals in Utah County: Chickens and Bees

I recently sat down with a new client who is interested in buying a home in Utah County. When we went over what they are looking for in a home, one of their desires was the ability to raise chickens and bees on their property. Each city has different rules when it comes to animals in residential areas, so I went to work to find out which cities allow chickens and bees, especially in residential areas.

Orem

Chickens and bees are both allowed in Orem, including residential areas. Bees were banned in Orem prior to 2011, but an amended city ordinance in 2011 now allows the raising of bees. The number of hives allowed depends on location and which zone you live in. See city codes section 22-6-10 L for more specifications.

The number of chickens allowed on a property depend on the size of the lot. The larger the lot, the more chickens that are allowed: 5,000 square feet: 2 chickens; 7,000 square feet: 3 chickens; 8,000 square feet: 4 chickens; 9,000 square feet: 5 chickens; 10,000 square feet: 6 chickens; 20,000 square feet: 10 chickens; 30,000 square feet: 12 chickens. See city codes 22-6-10 C for more information on raising chickens in Orem.

Vineyard

Since Vineyard is a newly established town, they do not have actual written city codes concerning chickens and bees. When I talked to Morgan Brim, Vineyard Community Development Director, he said that most animals are allowed in agricultural areas. Chickens and bees are unofficially allowed (because there is no city code that prohibits it) in residential areas. In regard to bees though, Brim noted that because of the large populations of mayflies and mosquitos, the city regularly sprays for bugs in residential areas and that may affect bees.

Provo

Chickens and bees are allowed in Provo city, but there are size and other regulations. Provo codes states that up to five bee hives are allowed on side or rear lots that are larger than 5,000 square feet. Lots that are one-half acre or larger can have up to ten bee hives. All beekeepers must be registered with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. It is also important to be aware of the placement of the hives and their flying patterns. If hives are located close to a property line or public access areas, then flyaway barriers must be in place and secured. Read more in section 8.03 of Provo city codes.

Chickens are allowed in residential areas if the sole purpose is to produce eggs. The number of chickens allowed depends on the size of the lot, but it can vary from two to six. Limitations and other maintenance guidelines are outlined in section 8.02.190 of Provo city codes.

Springville

Springville recently updated their city zoning codes to allow bees. The number of colonies allowed depends on the size of the lot. For properties smaller than half an acres, five colonies are allowed. Properties larger than half an acre can have 10 colonies. In agricultural zones, any number of bee colonies are allowed. There are specific rules regarding the housing, equipment, and raising of bees, so read over Article 9 in section 3-7 of city codes.

Photo Credit: Adam Clarke, Flickr. com

As of March 2014, chickens are allowed in all of Springville, including residential areas. Some residential zones have a limit to how many chickens are allowed, but there is no minimum size lot to raise chickens. City codes, section 3-7-801, outlines specific regulations regarding chickens.

Spanish Fork

Spanish Fork allows chickens in residential areas based on the size of the lot. Chickens are not allowed on lots less than 5,000 square feet in size. Up to six chickens are allowed on lots that are at least 5,000 square feet. To raise chickens in Spanish Fork, a permit must be obtained and specific coop and upkeep regulations must be followed. For more information, see section 6.20 of Spanish Fork city codes.

Photo Credit: Cowgirl Jules, Flickr. com

The animal control department of Spanish Fork says that bees are allowed as long as they do not cause problems within residential areas. Residents should contact animal control to make sure they comply with rules regarding raising bees within city limits.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Renting Out a Property: Provo, Utah

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With Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, and numerous tech and trade schools, Utah county is populated with young students and families looking to rent rather than buy. There is a high demand for rental properties, so if you and your family are interested in renting out a property, Utah Valley is a great place to do so.

Each city has strict rental regulations so make sure you properly research and understand all of the restrictions and requirements for rental properties. This article will focus on Provo, Utah, in terms of its rental dwelling regulations as set forth by Provo city statutes.

Understanding Rental Dwellings and When a License is Required

A rental dwelling is a portion or entire building that is designated to be rented, loaned, leased, or hired out by any amount of people for any time period longer than one month. Renting out a unit for less than a month is considered a short-term rental dwelling and has different requirements. It’s important to understand that even if you do not charge tenants rent, if the owner doesn’t live at the property, then it is still considered a rental property and requires a rental license.

Situations Where a Rental License Isn’t Required

There are a few situations in which Provo city doesn’t require a rental license. No license is required if a property is usually occupied by the owner but is temporarily rented because the owner is in the hospital, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility. Licenses are also not required if an owner temporary leaves and rents out a property because of temporary job assignments, sabbaticals, or voluntary service. Lastly, an accessory apartment in an owner-occupied one family dwelling is not considered a rental property and doesn’t require a license.

How to Apply to Rent a Property

Applications for a rental license are filled out online through the Provo city website. Rental licenses are $20 for a single unit and $60 for more than one unit, such as a duplex.

Once you apply for a rental license and pay the license fee, Provo’s zoning division reviews the application and makes sure the property meets all the license requirements, such as the safety and health requirements.

Rental Dwelling Safety and Health Requirements

Rental properties have to meet certain safety and health requirements.

The property must have structural integrity; proper installation, maintenance and operational condition of all plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems; appropriate exiting; properly constructed and located stairways; appropriate bedroom egress windows, including proper sill height and size of window openings and window wells for basement rooms; minimum bedroom floor area; adequate guardrails; proper backflow prevention devices; appropriately located and operational smoke alarms; watertight and sound roofing systems; fire-rated separation between dwelling units; and properly placed street addressing. There are also parking requirements for any rental dwelling.

If you apply for a rental license and are denied because the property doesn’t meet the safety and health regulations, Provo city will provide you a list of corrections to bring your property into compliance. Once those are corrected, you can reapply for a rental license.

Rental Licenses Length and Restrictions

All rental licenses expire on July 31 of each year, but you can renew for as long as you want and as long as the property meets all the rental regulations. Renewal notices are typically mailed out the end of July.

Licenses are not transferable, so if you end up moving or selling the property, you have to contact the business license official within thirty days after selling the property, and the new owner has to apply for their own rental license if they also wish to rent out the property.

Another option for rental income is to create an accessory apartment in your home. Please keep in mind that these are closely regulated and require city approval and adherence to safety and parking guidelines. Please check with your city planning office to learn their specific guidelines.

Renting, especially in Utah County and Provo in particular, can be a great investment opportunity. Make sure you understand all that is required so you and your tenants can enjoy the experience of renting.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Managing Multi-Level Homes as We Age

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As we grow older, both mentally and physically, our bodies might need a little lift here and there for support and ease. It’s important for us to recognize that receiving help does not make us more dependent. Our capacity to choose to receive support is what embodies our spirit of independence; we choose to be comfortable and to be at ease.

Consider that as we age, moving and maneuvering around the house might be more difficult, especially if we live in a multi-level home. Do we want to walk up and down stairs all day? Or do we want to avoid arduous climbs within the walls of our own home? For those of us in a multi-level home who are looking to simplify our lives and simplify the movability within our own home, consider the following options.

Find A Home that Fits Your Needs

Downsizing or right-sizing may be the solution for people who want a more comfortable home. If your two-story home has become bigger than your current situation needs, it might be time to find a new home. There are an endless variety of home designs and layouts. Find one that best fits what you need and want. Look for a one-story home that has a stairless entry or a ramp that leads to the front door. Maybe you want a floor plan with a large open kitchen and family room area but fewer bedrooms.  This would allow space for the family to gather when they come visit (but not move in). Are you thinking about installing handrails? Then look for hallways with plenty of width to make your daily life easier and more convenient.

Downsizing is not about giving up a big home for a small home. Downsizing is about finding the home that perfectly fits your needs. It is about choosing to live life more comfortably.

Making your Home Fit Your Needs

If you’re not wanting to move, there are options to make your current home more livable. One of the most challenging issues we face as we age are stairs. If your home has stairs throughout, start with the fewest number of stairs first. Consider replacing entry or hallway stairs with a ramp. Install handrails throughout the house for ease and support.

Installing a stair lift on a large staircase within your home can be a solution to staying in your home. Stair lifts are metal devices that are set on a track fit to the height and width of your stairs. The devices are often battery operated and have charging stations at both ends of the track so you do not have to worry about long cords or the battery dying while you are on the middle of the stairs

Stair lifts cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 depending on the type you get and the difficulty of installation. Consider asking your health insurance provider if they would cover any of the costs, and if not, look into getting a used one.

Whether you choose to move to a home that’s more suitable to your changing needs or to adapt your current home to be more comfortable, remember that you have the independence to choose how you want to live. According to a recent article in the Senior Citizens Journal, “Seniors live more healthy lives when they can be as independent as possible.” Exert your independence by choosing how comfortably and easily you want to live in your home.

Property Inheritance or Gifting

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An important question to consider for homeowners is what are we going to do with our homes and property once we are gone? Is the best course of action to gift the property to a son or daughter, or just let them inherit everything? It’s important to consider the value and tax implications for gifting or inheriting property.

Taxes for Giving versus Inheriting

When you gift or deed a property to someone, the initial value of the home does not change when the property changes hands. So if you bought the home at $200,000, then gift it to your children, and they sell it for its then current value of $400,000, then they have to pay capital gains tax on the entire difference of the initial value and the selling value—a substantial tax.

However, if you pass on and your children inherit the home, they inherit it at the current value of $400,000 (up from your original purchasing of $200,000). That becomes the base value for them, so when they sell the house, they only pay capital gains tax on the difference between the value of the home when they received it and when they sold it—which is, in most cases, a substantially lower taxable amount.

It might be worthwhile to talk over your plans with a financial advisor, but consider this example presented by InTouch.

Gift or Inheritance – Does It Matter?

A person called into a radio talk program with a situation that was troubling to the caller and disturbing based on the potential tax liability that may have been avoided.

The caller’s elderly father had deeded his home to his daughter a few years earlier because in his mind, his daughter was going to get the home eventually and this would be one less thing to be taken care of after his death. The daughter didn’t really care because the father was going to continue to live in the home and take care of it so that it would be no expense to her.

Obviously, unknown to either the father or the daughter, transferring the title of a home from one person to another could have significant tax implications. In this case, when the father “gave” the home to his daughter, he also gave her the basis in the home, which is basically what he paid for it. If she sells the home in the future, the gain will be the difference in the net sales price and her father’s basis, which could be considerably higher than had she inherited it.

If the home was purchased for $75,000 and worth $250,000 at the time of transfer, there is a possible gain of $175,000. However, when a person inherits property, the basis is “stepped-up” to fair market value at the time of the decedent’s death.  If the adult child had inherited the property at the time of the parent’s death, his or her new basis would be $250,000 or the fair market value at the time of death, and the possible gain would be zero.

In most cases, there are less tax consequences with inheritance than with a gift. There are other factors that may come into play but being aware that there is a difference between a gift and inheritance is certainly an important warning flag that would indicate that expert tax advice should be sought before any steps are taken.

2017 Housing Market Forecast – Utah and Nationwide

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Before the recent presidential election, mortgage interest rates were averaging around 3.50%. Since election night, rates climbed to 4.25% and are currently hovering near 4%.  Some mortgage experts expect those rates to continue to climb as the year goes on, others are not so sure. But one thing is certain: housing experts predict another active year for the housing market.

People will continue to buy homes, especially in Utah. In fact, despite increasing interest rates after the election, house sales were strong in December 2016, even up 2% from 2015, according to a Utah Business report.

In Utah, 2016 was a record-breaking year in terms of house sales, and initial reports are showing a strong start to 2017. “Even in January, which is the slowest month of the year for home sales, we’ve seen bidding wars for properties,” says DeAnna Dipo, 2017 president of the Utah Association of Realtors.

The new administration has voiced plans to lower taxes, reduce regulations, and invest in job growth—all of which will lead to a stronger economy and more activity within the housing market. Lower taxes generally mean people can save more and spend more, including buying new homes.

Even if taxes do not decrease and mortgage rates increase, experts still expect an active 2017 housing environment. Mark Greene, mortgage industry expert, recently wrote an article in Forbes stating just that: “People will be selling houses, people will be buying houses and people will be getting mortgages. I am 100% certain of this…People buy and sell houses in all interest rate environments and for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with mortgage payments. Families grow, families shrink, jobs and fortunes change, people get married, people get divorced, this list could go on all night.”

So as we continue on into 2017, expect to see activity in the housing market, which is good news for those looking to buy or sell a home this year.

Smart Technologies for Independent Aging

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According to a recent study by Harvard University, the number of people over the age of 65 is steadily increasing in the United States, which translates into a growing demand for accessible and affordable housing. “The housing implications of this surge in older adult populations are many and call for innovative approaches to respond to the growing need for housing that is affordable, accessible and linked to supporting services,” says managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Chris Herbert.

If you or a loved one are looking to stay in your home over time, one innovative approach to meet your needs as you age is implementing smart home technologies.

According to Patrick Roden, creator of aginginplace.com, new technologies are helping individuals and couples stay in their homes longer because technology assists in “maintaining safety, independence, health/wellness, social connections, and support systems.” For example, smart technologies allow you to turn on or off the lights, lock doors and monitor visitors, and even see the food inside your fridge and order groceries directly from your phone or tablet.

Smart homes simply give individuals the sense of being taken care of while staying in their own home.

Coldwell Banker recently posted an article outlining all the advantages of smart home technologies, and there are more than a few reasons to make the switch.

Saving Money

Smart technologies can save you money over time. For example, “Smart thermostats can reduce unnecessary cooling and heating expenses and smart lighting can help curb your energy consumption and reduce your electric bills,” writes Coldwell Banker’s Athena Snow. You may also consider solar panels, motion sensors, and power timers. You can even install a smart toilet, which can analyze daily output and provide information so you can avoid unneeded doctors’ visits and copays.

While initial installation may require an upfront cost, smart technologies can save money in the long run, whether it be from reduced utility bills or more efficient access to what you need when you need it.

Securing your Home

Smart technologies can provide you the safety and security you need while living at home. Smart devices can lock your doors or set automatic timers for them to be locked at certain hours of the day. Security cameras can be relayed to a smart device so you can have your eyes on every corner of your house or yard. Smoke alarms and other detectors can give you live notifications, even if you are not at home. Smart technology can provide comfort in allowing you to live safely and securely in your home, whether you need to watch over things from a vacation stay or from your own bed.

Aging in Place Smartly

As we and our loved ones age, it is not easy to give up our lifestyle and habits. However, by introducing smart technologies into our homes, we can save money, increase security, and continue to live comfortably and independently.

—Stephanie Bentley

Preparing Financially to Stay in Your Home

 

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As we and our loved ones age, our physical and financial strength often diminish. The decision then must be made whether to stay in our homes or move to a place where we may be assisted by others when the need arises. The term used for people who want to live their lives out in their own homes is called ‘Aging in Place.’ As a matter of fact, there is a National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC). The NAIPC recently surveyed older adults, and 90 percent of them say they’d rather age in place than move to an assisted living facility.

While aging in place allows you or your elderly loved ones the blessing of staying in your home and neighborhood, it also comes with its challenges. One of the most pressing challenges for many is the cost. Following are a few areas you may wish to consider to ensure you and your loved ones are financially prepared to stay in your home.

The Cost to Age in Place

As the nation’s debt continues to climb, less money is being put into establishing the well-being of senior citizens. A recent article in Forbes recognizes the declining support of federal funds and encourages people to think outside of the box when it comes to financing aging in place. Specifically, the need to think now about how to prepare ourselves for later on.

Healthcare Costs

As healthcare costs rise and insurance coverage weakens, start focusing on maintaining good health now to reduce your costs later on. Age-friendly homes can reduce the chance or frequency of falls, which will decrease emergency room visits and doctor’s office bills. When a home is properly prepared for aging in place, there is a less likelihood of injury. And when injuries do occur, if the home is age-prepped, there is an easier and a quicker recovery.

Home Preparations

There are a few preparations that can be made now to age in place later. Handrails along steps, through hallways, or in the bathroom will help prevent falls. Add a ramp to your front or back entrance to avoid climbing up and down stairs. Consider adding extra lights to entryways, around steps, and throughout the house to prevent tripping. If little renovations are made over time, you will not have to worry about affording major home changes and their costs after retirement.

Financing the Rest of Your Life

As you or your loved ones prepare for the future, make sure you are prepared to handle all of life’s finances. Work on paying off the mortgage to avoid that large monthly bill. Look into investments, whether in real estate or stocks, as a means for income after retirement. Look into insurance options or save money to pay for healthcare out of pocket. By preparing now through home renovations or remodeling and finance and investment options, you can face the future knowing that you are adequately prepared to enjoy aging in place.

—Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Downsizing the Family Home without Throwing Out the Memories

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Downsizing a well-loved home is no easy task. It can be stressful, painful, and even emotionally taxing. So how do you decide what items to keep, donate, or throw away? Downsizing everything you own, especially items with sentimental value, is a major project.

But don’t let the fears of getting rid of precious objects and forgetting memories stop you from all the benefits of downsizing your home. In fact, downsizing can provide a great opportunity to get rid of the clutter and have some fun.

In an article published by Forbes, Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand, authors of the book Moving On, say their best advice for downsizers is to keep the memories and get rid of the stuff. They encourage families in the process of downsizing to talk about the memories, honor the people, and remember the experiences. When objects that hold sentimental value are remembered, it is much easier to throw or give them away. “Telling each other stories along the way can also make it easier to let go of some of the objects, because for most people the memories connected to the objects are more important than the objects,” Hulstrand says.

Hetzer suggests writing memories down in a journal or memoir, taking photos, or making videos of people talking about those experiences. It will be much easier to get rid of something when you know that you have taken the time to properly remember it.

Downsizing a home and its collections of objects and memories is a large-scale project, so take your time. Allow a few months to go through everything so you do not have to feel rushed or stressed. If the project seems daunting, start in one room and work your way from there.

Going through your home can not only open up a great opportunity to reflect on times past but doing so can also be fun. Hulstrand invites families to gather together to go through the home and remember together. “If you can build in the time for family members to reminisce and just enjoy being together, as well as going through what can be a pretty tedious task, it actually can be fun.”

What might start as an impossible project can turn into an opportunity to create new memories for the whole family to cherish together.

— Stephanie Bahr Bentley

Sometimes Downsizing is Hard on the Ego

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There are many benefits to downsizing, such as less space to take care of and smaller monthly bills. But with smaller bills, comes a smaller house—which can sometimes be hard on the ego.  

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a retirement expert pointed out some pertinent questions regarding downsizing, one of them asking if your ego can handle a downsize.

Often we see our homes as the showcase of our hard work, so a large or spacious home signifies success. But with downsizing, that likely means giving up that image. If that is a major deterrent for you and your quest to downsize, consider other benefits that might still allow you to showcase your life accomplishments.

Furnishing a smaller home

Even if a home is smaller, it can still look impressive. New furniture, paintings, and other artwork can go a long way to showcase the home and its owners. Size is not all that matters when giving value to something—order and style contribute greatly to the image of a home. And with a smaller home, it will be considerably easier to keep everything organized. You also might be able to afford those new leather couches.

Traveling the world

Nothing says luxury like travelling. With less house expenses, you can now hit the beach in Hawaii or Baja California. Take the long-awaited cruise to Alaska or the Bahamas. Consider a trip with the grandkids to Disneyland or Harry Potter World. Start a blog and post pictures and tales from your trip. Downsizing can lower your home expenses and open up new avenues for travel adventures.

Buying a vacation home

Once you’ve cut your house bill in half by downsizing, consider investing in a vacation home. If the beaches or mountains call your name, look into purchasing property for a getaway home. A second home may require some work and time, so make sure you consider the costs and upkeep requirements. Sometimes there is nothing better than a cozy stay at your cabin in the woods.

It is never easy to part with one’s home, especially if it is full of cherished memories and mementos from your family. However, downsizing may just be the right opportunity to keep some of the most important memories and start creating new ones.

— Stephanie Bahr Bentley