Downsizing Checklist – Don’t get stressed!

Are you considering downsizing from your big house in the suburbs? It could be one of the smartest retirement decisions that you make! The kids are gone – why heat and cool those extra bedrooms? Why pay taxes on that additional square footage? Chances are that you’ve built up quite a bit of equity in your house and you can use the proceeds from the sale to buy an easy to maintain, energy efficient smaller home, condo or townhouse and still have money left over to add to your retirement income.

But what to do with all that stuff….You’ve got too much to fit into your new home and lots of it is probably ready for donation anyway! Many people are ready for a fresh new look, a fresh start with new furnishings that match the style and size of their new home – so get ready to unload.

Here is a downsizing checklist and advice to help you cope with this challenge.

Downsizing checklist
Tip – Get started early in the process so that you don’t end up stressed out as the move approaches. The last thing you need is pressure at the last minute.
1. Measure what you have room for in your new home.

2. Will your old furniture and accessories fit, both spatially and stylistically?

3. Decide what you want to keep from your old home (what you will move, what you will store).

4. Compare the cost of shipping/moving your older items to your new location vs. selling or giving them away.

5. Formulate a plan on how to dispose of the items you decide not to keep or put into storage.

6. Do you want family or friends to have certain items? If so, figure out a way to distribute those items. If there is a lot of interest in the same items, consider an auction using a point system (there are even some online services to help you do this – see bottom of article).

7. Figure out how you want to sell or dispose of the remaining items.
Here are some of the best alternatives, along with pros and cons.

eBay or Craigslist
Hold a tag sale (self)
Use a tag sale manager
Auction house
Consignment shop
Hire an estate sale pro
Give to charity
Might get a high price
Get 100% of proceeds
Professionally managed
Highest prices
Low hassle factor
Pro managed, everything goes
Low hassle, good cause
You have options
Huge amount of work
High work, could be disappointing
Give up commission
High end stuff only
Might never sell, low prices
Sales commission
No revenue
Ongoing expense

Austin and Round Rock at Top of Fastest Growing Cities List

Austin, Round Rock and Texas, my how you keep growing and growing.

Among the fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more, Round Rock ranked second, and Austin ranked third, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report out today, the first population estimates of the nation’s cities since the 2010 census.

Round Rock grew by 4.8 percent and surpassed the 100,000 mark, with 104,664. Only New Orleans, still rebuilding from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, had faster growth among large cities, at 4.9 percent.

Austin grew by 3.8 percent to crack the 800,000 mark, at 820,611. Austin is now the nation’s 13th-largest city, up from No. 14 in 2010. It swapped spots with San Francisco.

Austin appears poised to catch two cities ahead of it on the list: Jacksonville, Fla., and Indianapolis, with populations of 827,908 and 827,609.

Texas cities dominated the list of the nation’s fastest-growing large cities, occupying eight of the top 15 spots, according to the figures, which the Census Bureau said cover the period between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, and are produced using housing unit estimates.

By Juan Castillo

Our Interview on CNBC about Senior Real Estate

Cerretha and I were interveiwed by CNBC as Seniors Real Estate Specialists! Here is the article:

“How do these homes compare to other retirement housing options? Real estate experts say that unadorned 55-plus communities will generally cost more than if you stay in the family house and renovate. But when you decide to move closer to children, grandchildren or friends, modest adult neighborhoods can be your smartest financial option.

Cerretha Rose and her colleague Heather Kight, Seniors Real Estate Specialists in Austin, say that downsizing to a smaller conventional house often requires interior and yard renovations to make it comfortable and requires low maintenance. Senior homes don’t require those types of renovations. A conventional condo may be cheaper, but it usually means hundreds of dollars a month in homeowners fees. ”

Read more

Retire to Austin – Teravista!

Last weekend I set out with Rudy and Gloria. Determined that they did not want to spend another winter in Omaha, Nebraska, Rudy and Gloria has researched retirement options and determined that Central Texas was the perfect place to retire. We discussed the 55+ communities including Sun City, Texas Traditions and Heritage Oaks and in the end Rudy and Gloria determined that a master planned community with a wide variety of people would be best for them They were very clear about what they wanted and I previewed several new home communities in preparation of their visit.

Teravista, in Round Rock, has something for everyone. Retirees, young professionals and families alike are purchasing homes in this beautiful master planned community.

Rudy and Gloria fell in love with the Teravista master planned community. Neither one of them plays golf, but they like the look of the golf greens, the ponds and the landscaped areas. In the end we settled on a beautiful new construction Lennar model that was even a bit below their target price, allowing them to include many upgrades including crown molding and tile flooring.

The criteria for a good house when you retire to Austin may include:

An open, one story plan. When you retire to the Central Texas area it will hopefully be your last move! An open plan with with wood or tile flooring is best for aging in place over the years.

More recent construction in order to take advantage of the low energy bills.Builders have made great strides in including fabulous energy efficient features and Wilshire Homes, the nation’s only certified LEEDS builder will even guarantee your energy bills for two years.

Small and/or low maintenance yard.Many people who retire to Austin are interested in the

The well planned community features many greenbelt and golf course lots.

Garden Home concept. One option is to look for a community or neighborhood where the HOA fee includes yard maintenance. A nice master planned community has built in outdoor living space where you can have family gatherings, picnics and parties, lessening the need for a large yard.

Peer group neighbors. As I previewed master planned communities in the Round Rock and Pflugerville area I asked the builder reps about the age demographics in each community. It’s very refreshing to learn that the communities have a large percentage of “downsizers” and retirees in addition to the young families who select the area due to good schools. Downsizers are moving to Central Texas to be near their adult children and grandchildren and are purchasing homes in close proximity to the family (in most cases – ha ha!!)

Baby Boomers who retire to Central Texas are attracted to one story plans that have an open living/dining/kitchen area, hard surface flooring and a low maintenance yar

Retire to Austin – Southpark Meadows

Southpark Meadows is a great options if you think you may retire to Austin.

Milestone has a very unique style with the exterior design of stucco and stone.

Retirees and first time home buyers alike will find a floorplan that meets their needs in one of South Austin’s newest communities. Southpark Meadows is the Milestone Community Builders newest collection of unique homes designed just for the South Austin lifestyle. Low maintenance garden  homes feature a modern design that includes stucco and stone exteriors, gourmet kitchens, high ceilings and a great location.Just ten minutes from downtown and quick access to I-35, new homeowners will enjoy the Southpark Meadows entertainment area’s restaurants and shopping.

If you are getting ready to retire to Austin, the one story plans would be perfect. The low HOA fees include yard maintenance – you can’t beat that! The two to four bedroom plans are designed with the open concept in mind and the homes are great for entertaining. Although many who retire to Austin are looking for active adult communities and 55+ communities in the Austin area,  others are looking for a neighborhood where there is a nice variety of age groups and Southpark Meadows is a good option.

A trend we’ve noticed lately is that older couples will retire to Austin to be near their adult children and to be more active in the lives of their grandchildren. Families will buy homes in the same subdivision so that everyone has their own space, yet they are close to one another for social and holiday events.

One story plans are ideal for those who retire to Austin. You’ll never have to move again!

Five Updates to consider Before You List Your Home

A seller has one chance to impress a buyer with curb appeal. It is well worth the expense and effort to make sure your home shows will from the street and in exterior photos.

In today’s Austin real estate market buyers have many choices when selecting a home. When planning to list your home for sale, your goal should be to get your house in the best condition it has ever been in. Deep cleaning goes a long way, but there are some fairly inexpensive updates that will increase the value of your home and decrease the number of days on the market.

  1.  Replace your old windows. It’s not as expensive as it sounds and reasonably priced vinyl windows can be installed for approximately $300 per window. The average home has eight windows, so that is a small price to pay for this significant upgrade that will drastically affect the curb appeal of your home. Replacement windows also will increase the energy efficiency of your home, an important selling point for today’s buyer.
  2. Update the old garage doors. With home designs over the past few decades, no feature is more prominent in many neighborhoods than the garage door. A garage door that is worn out, dented, in need of paint or repair will be the first thing a potential buyer notices when pulling into the driveway. Replacing the garage door will update the appearance and curb appeal of your house more than almost any other update and can really set your home apart from the competition. Curb appeal is vitally important in today’s market and you only have one opportunity to get that buyer out of the car in and into your home.
  3. Flooring needs to shine. Especially if you have hardwood floors! Make sure your floors are in tip top condition as buyers put an extremely high value on hardwood floors. Consider refinishing them if they are in poor condition and have a professional cleaning or restoration company take a look if they just need sprucing up. Carpets should be replaced if worn and at the very least need to be shampooed. If you have pets, you really should replace the carpet because most buyers are really turned off by lingering pet odor. Here is Austin we have one carpet company that specializes in working with home sellers and they will replace your carpet with a mid-level grade carpet and you don’t have to pay until closing. Make sure to install a neutral color.
  4. To paint, or not to paint. Any way you look at it, the answer is “Yes, you should paint.” Assess the exterior front of the house first – paint the trim, the front door and any siding that needs a new coat. This fresh paint will make your house look great, even if you don’t paint the entire exterior and just paint the trim. Inside, paint will brighten and liven up the home and will give you a fresh look that will be appealing to the buyer. If you have kid’s rooms that have bright colors make sure the color scheme is coordinated and let your agent know that you will paint the room if it is a deal breaker.
  5. Fixtures need fixin’. From your kitchen sink, to the bathrooms, to the lighting fixtures, we’d be able to tell you what decade your house was built by looking at the fixtures. Lighting, plumbing and kitchen fixtures, as well as cabinet knobs, should be replaced. Be sure to find out the latest trend, search for sale fixtures and get those brass chandeliers replaced before the listing photos are taken!

The Austin 55 Realty Team will be happy to walk through your Austin area home in order to help you make an update plan for your upcoming home sale. The names of good handymen and contractors are in our phone contact list so give us a call to get the process started.

Heather Kight 512-789-1871

Retire to Austin – The #1 Destination for Baby Boomer Retirement!

Take advantage of the Austin area lakes such as Lake Travis, Lady Bird Lake, and Lake Austin.

Austin is a small town disguised as a big city.  Newcomers figure this out very quickly and that helps explain why Austin is the most popular city in America for Baby Boomer retirement. It’s easy to get around and as you’ll be retired, you can avoid the bad traffic times! The sun shines 300+ days a year and our winters only last a couple of weeks. Yes, summers can get a bit hot, but between Barton Springs, the numerous area lakes and all the beautiful pools in many retirement communities you can cool off when you need to. My friend Colleen is 70 (or so) and she swims in Barton Springs every day of the year.

One of Austin’s fastest growing demographic segments is the 65 plus age group which is another testament to its suitability as a retirement option. We have several new hospitals in various stages of development so you have many options as to the part of Austin you’d like to live in. Georgetown, Round Rock and Cedar Park areas are extremely popular with the 55+ crowd and there are new hospitals in all of those areas. South Austin has great hospitals and there is a brand new Lakeway Medical Center opened in the Spring of 2012.

One of the biggest reasons I favor Austin for retirement is real estate prices. You can still get into a nice home for under $200,000. I saw some lovely townhomes yesterday for the mid 200s with NO MAINTENANCE. I also visited Tuscan Villas in Lakeway and the entire community was designed without any steps! There is a brand new master planned community off of Highway 71 called Sweetwater and all five builders have fabulous one story plans.

If you’re a golfer, there are several championship golf courses with homes in a variety of price points and Sun City in Georgetown has three courses. Water aerobics? Try Lifetime Fitness in South Austin or some of the amazing new YMCA facilities that are in the Cedar Park/Leander area. Yoga – too many choices to mention! Biking – we’ve got so many bikers that we have special bike lanes all around town. Fishing? Lake Travis, Lake Austin, Lake Marble Falls…. Try to stump me – I’ll come up with retirement activities and reasons to retire to Austin in a snap.

People of all ages love Barton Springs. Located in the middle of town, the constant temperature allows Austin swimmers to use the pool year round.

You’ll never lack for a selection of activities designed specifically for seniors with the three senior activity centers and seventeen recreation centers. The senior activity centers don’t have membership fees. They offer lots of events and activities, including health related events, tours, trips, and recreational activities. My mom is active in a group out of the University of Texas at Austin and she’s always off on some great adventure.

Live music abounds in Austin which is noted as the Live Music Capital of the World. There are over 120 venues for live music presentations of every kind, including an opera company and a symphony orchestra. Don’t forget, Austin is home to Austin City Limits and South By Southwest. Art? The Blanton and a thriving art scene with up and coming galleries. Yes, Austin is a college town, with a student population of over 50,000 and that brings excitement and energy to town. In addition to UT, Austin Community College is a fabulous system with numerous classes that would be of interest to anyone. ACC draws from one of the most educated populations in the country and the instructors are amazingly fabulous.

Retire to Austin! I keep thinking I’d like to try somewhere new when I retire but I just can’t come up with a better town. Plus since my recent college graduate daughter will be moving back here after a couple of years in Houston, my grandchildren will be here….

If you want to search for great Austin Properties check out the Austin 55 Realty Team’s website. Just click on Search for Homes. OR if you’d like us to send you some great Austin Retirement properties shoot me an email at

Senior Living Options and New Terminology

Ready to Downsize? Looking to move your aging parent out of the longtime family home?

Senior with Senior Living Housing Locator

A Senior Living Housing Locator will help you and your family evaluate your Senior Living Housing choices in Austin, saving you time and possibly costly mistakes.

Depending on your age, you may be interested in an Independent Living Senior Community. As you research the options you’ll want to be aware that terminology pertaining to Senior Living has undergone a transformation over the past several years.

The good news is that along with the changing terminology comes many more options for Senior Living in the Austin/Central Texas area. Many Baby Boomers recall visiting a grandparent or relative in an “Old Folks Home” or a “Nursing Home.” As our population lives longer and stays healthy longer, many more senior housing choices exist today than ever before.

When you evaluate Austin area Senior Housing, be sure you are familiar with the terminology. It’s not the same as when your grandmother was in the nursing home. For example:

  1. Tour is now… Visit
  2. Patient is now… Resident
  3. Elderly is now… Elder
  4. Unit or Bed is now… Room, Suite or Apartment
  5. Assisted Living Facility/Facilities is now… Residence, House or Assisted Living Community/Communities
  6. Long-term Care is now… Senior Living
  7. Admission and Discharge are now… Move-In and Move-Out
There are dozens of choices to make and the more information you are able to gather, the better. If you are pressed for time, you don’t have time to interview and research the hundreds of Senior Living Housing options in Austin/Central Texas. You may want to contact a Senior Living Locator such as Assist Locators, The Next Horizon Senior & Military Locators, All Ways Caring for Seniors or the national chain A Place for Mom. These specialists can help your family make informed decisions and to avoid costly errors!
A Senior Living Locator will guide you through the steps of evaluating and selecting the best Senior Living Options in the Austin/Central Texas area. They will conduct an informational interview and then will evaluate senior housing communities and can be an important part of the team of specialists who can make your senior transition easy on you and your loved ones.
As Seniors Real Estate Specialists, The Austin 55 Realty Team partners with excellent Senior Living Housing Locators in the Austin/Central Texas area. As they assist your family in determining the best place to move for Senior Housing, the Austin 55 Realty Team will work with your family to plan your downsizing, connect you with an estate sale expert, help prepare your home for sale, and then will market and sell your price for the best price possible.
Heather Kight 512-789-1871

Retire to Austin and Take Advantage of Continuing Education Opportunities

When I taught 10th grade World History and Geography at Westlake High School in the Eanes School District I always said the same thing on Back to School Night: “I teach the class you wish you could take now that you are an adult!” Every head in the classroom nodded in agreement. When Austin was named as the top city in the nation for Baby Boomer retirement, the opportunities for continuing education were cited as an important aspect of the attractions that draw retirees to the Austin area.

I’ll be interested to know how many people sign up for Women as Patients and Practitioners in Early Indian Medical Literature and wouldn’t it be great to take Italian For Travelers and Travel Italy!?  If food and drink are more in line with your interests, there are plenty of great courses. If you love coffee, there are only a couple of spots left for Coffee Barista For a Day – May. The point is that the opportunities are endless!

The Continuing Education Department of the University of Texas offers a series of classes called “Go Native U.” This

Retire to Austin and take advantage of the great opportunities for continuing education such as courses that cover Texas wildflowers.

program is designed to teach participants about the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. The series covers native plant gardening, the benefits of planting native plants and more. With our recent drought, not only are the courses, taught through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, interesting, but they are useful as well.

One of our retired clients never misses a season of the UT Quest Program. Seminars and lectures occur in three six-week sessions and include topics such as:


  • The Next Internet Revolution: Dr. Gary Chapman
  • LBJ Presidential Tapes by Harry Middleton, Director Emeritus of the LBJ Library
  • Ethical Leadership by Howard Prince, Director of LBJ’s School’s Center for Ethical Leadership
  • Families and Kinship in Africa Toyin Falola Ut Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor of History


  • Famous Texas Criminal Trials and Lawyers: Don Stone
  • Greek and Roman Mythology: Nancy C. Collins
  • The Impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on Astronomy: Dr. Fritz Benedict
  • Cottage to Palace: Interior Architecture: Dr. Robert James Coote

Continuing education opportunities are just one of the many wonderful reasons to retire to Austin. Our climate, the proximity to lakes and parks, the active lifestyle and the cost of living all factor into an opportunity to enjoy retirement in Austin.

When you are ready to retire to Austin, give us a call. As Seniors Real Estate Specialists Cerretha Rose and Heather Kight will find a great home for your retirement and we’ll assist you with your Austin relocation and Austin home search. Once you’ve moved, you’ll be ready to sign up for the numerous continuing education opportunities that make Austin a great retirement hot spot.

Heather Kight 512-789-1871

RE/MAX Austin Associates Austin 55 Realty Team

Build Your Retirement Dream Home in Austin

Many people who retire in Austin considering building a home. Researching resell homes vs. to be built homes is a good

Firepit in 55+ community

Retire to Austin to take advantage of the wonderful climate. Outdoor living is possible all year round.

idea and either present good opportunities in the Austin real estate market. For those retiring to Austin, building can be a good option as you will be able to select your own floor plan, choose your finish out, build on your own lot and in general have more control over your retirement home. Contrary to what the media is saying, now is a great time to build a custom home.

If you ever wanted to build a custom home in Austin, it is a good time and here is why:

*   The house you build in Austin today will cost more to build next year

*   It will never be as affordable to build as Right Now

*   Lumber prices have dropped 36% since 2005, making today’s lumber prices, after adjusting inflation, lower than they were in 1981

*   Construction costs dropped 25% across the board in last 2 years

*   The cost of sheetrock has fallen 30%

*   With new home starts on the rise experts predict lumber and other materials will increase 25% in 2012 because of lack of production

*   Interest rates will never be this low again in our lifetime

*   Interest rates are at a 30 year low and are going to be on the rise

*   Land prices in Texas have dropped dramatically

*   Texas produced 48% of all jobs (new) in country in 2010

*   Austin is the best performing economy in United States

As Realtors who work with people who retire to the Austin area, we can help you select a builder, whether it is an Austin custom home builder or one of the excellent new home builders working in subdivisions.

Give us a call at the Austin 55 Realty team to plan your Austin area retirement living!

Heather Kight 512-789-1871 to search for a new home