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STEVE:  This is Steve Westmark, Counselor Realty.  Thanks for watching my video blog.  Today, I’m inviting in Jane Hampton.  She’s with Accessibility Design, and she helps people with their housing design ideas.

JANE: Yes.  Nice to be here, Steve.  Thank you for inviting me.

STEVE:  Jane, I’m glad to have you on my senior series talking about how we can help people in their housing decisions as seniors.  Explain a little bit about what your company does in helping seniors with accessibility.

JANE:  Steve, thank you for asking that question.  At this day and age, we have an awful lot of seniors across the United States that are reaching that point when they are thinking about doing something with the house.  They’re facing senior issues, be it a little bit of back pain or possibly a stroke, or something of the sort, and their house needs to accommodate them.  So what we do at Accessibility Design, we’ve been in business for 20 years meeting the needs of the public as they go through life.

So therefore, we start our services out with some consultation and assessment of their home and what their needs of the future might be.  And then we begin the design process, putting things on paper, showing design ideas, and then helping transform that house so they can stay put.  Aging in place is our target.

STEVE:  Many times I’m called out by a senior and they do have some issues and they’re trying to decide what to do, whether they should stay in their home or buy a one-level townhouse or a condo.  But they love their home so much they’re trying to decide what to do.  What do you do to help that senior or the seniors along with I assume their children?

JANE:  Mm-hm.  Good questions, Steve.  Most of the time, it is the children that call us.  The parents might be 65 and older, but those individuals that reach out to us are saying, “Help me help my family” help my parents in this case.  So what do, again, is to wrap our arms around the entire family.  And we become a guide for excellent decision making.  We explore solutions. 

They could be staying in their house and tweaking it.  It could be using your services and going and looking for another home that might be more cost effective to remodel and purchasing that and remodeling it.  It could be building a new home.  Or in some cases, the right decision might be finding a senior condo or a facility of that sort, purchasing it, and then tweaking it.  They’re all viable solutions and it all depends on what is necessary.

STEVE:  Well, Jane, I know that there’s a lot of choices for people to look at as they’re going through their project and there’s a lot of things that need to be managed, like even walk-in tubs or you know all the different things.  How do you help people through that process?

JANE:  The process can be very involved, and I don’t mean to put too much emphasis on this, but in this day and age there’s an awful lot of new products on the market, new contractors who want to get in and help people, and my heart goes out to the people, the families that are trying to find the right decision makers to help them.  At Accessibility Design, we’ve been in business for 20 years and we are the design and project managers. 

We guide the ship.  We build a team of not only interior designers, product recommendators—if that’s such a word—and product specialists, project managers, occupational therapists, and architects.  So we come in at the very beginning and we find the right solution, be it architectural, widening a door; be it introducing a product, be it a grab bar or an elevator; or simply maybe teaching a person how to do something different.  

A walker going straight through a door might be wider than if we can teach them to go sideways.  So in tweaking this we can maintain access, safety, independence, and of course beauty.  This is their home.  This is how we raise dignity.  This is how we have life.  Right?  So now we come up with the right plans and then we put it out to bid.  And then we go into the vendors; and we go into the contractors; and we do this purposely to separate the design from the excellent hammer swingers and the fantastic product vendors.

By doing so, we can get the best of both worlds and a high level of counsel and fiduciary responsibility and excellent decision making.

STEVE:  Well, Jane, it’s phenomenal what you do, and how’s the best way for people to get a hold of you to talk about this?

JANE:  You can reach us many different ways.  Phone is always preferred because I can get a better feeling for your situation.  And phone number is 952-925-0301.  And then we have a wonderful very informative website with photos of our projects as well as bios of all of our team.  And that’s

STEVE:  Thank you.

JANE:  Thank you.

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark of Counselor Realty.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog.  Today, I’ve brought in Bonnie Clark from the Twin Cities Senior Housing Guide.  Welcome, Bonnie.

BONNIE:  Thank you.

STEVE:  Well, Bonnie, I ran into you in a seniors group that we belong with networking and helping seniors with their housing situations.  And you do this terrific guide on housing.  Tell us a little bit about what goes into this Senior Housing Guide and how does this help seniors in their choices.

BONNIE:  Well, the Twin Cities Senior Housing Guide is a listing of all the senior housing in the 11-county metro area.  It includes everything from totally independent housing where there would not be any services—although you might bring services in on your own—to memory care and residential care homes that people would need assistance available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The book does not include nursing homes, however.  If you wanted information on nursing homes, I would suggest that you call the senior linkage line, and the number is in the book.  The book is comprised of grids that list everything county by county.  And then there’s also an index where you can look up a property if you want to.  And it does have a few resources and information actually stated in your own home.  It also has information on reverse mortgages.

STEVE:  Well, many times, I’m meeting with seniors or I’m meeting with seniors and their children and they have a lot of questions about this.  I may even bring this magazine.  But what are some of the things that maybe you can do to help the seniors or the children in their choices and directing them?

BONNIE:  Well, I do direct service.  So if you ever have a question you can certainly call me.  But one thing you need to ask yourself is how much can I afford to spend on housing.  You’d be surprised the people that don’t know what their exact income is.  But you need to sit down and figure out what you’re exact income is and how much you can afford to spend on housing.  And then secondly, what services do you need?

You know, be honest with yourself.  None of us want to admit that we’re getting older or that we might like some meals or might need some help.  Nobody wants to admit that.  But be honest with yourself because you want to find the right place for yourself, and if you can’t stay there, and you can’t bring in services, if you get set in one place, then that means another move.  And that’s probably the third thing to think about is what happens if I need more services and they do not offer it?  Am I willing to move again?  So probably those three things.

STEVE:  Well, I think this housing guide is just great opportunity for people that are looking at senior housing.  How is the best way to pick this up or get it in the hands of people today?

BONNIE:  Well, the book is free at libraries, senior centers, some real estate offices.  Counselor Realty.  They could pick one up here at Counselor Realty.  But probably the best place though is senior centers.  Libraries tend to run out of them.  They can also call me.  I do send the book out, but I do charge a nominal fee if the postage is high.  But if they call me at 651-690-3141, just make sure if I’m not there to leave a message and I’ll call you back.  But I’d be happy to send one out.  But I do charge a small fee, whereas if you just pick it up, it is free.

STEVE:  And Bonnie, thanks so much for coming in today.  You have such a great product here, and it’s so helpful to seniors.

BONNIE:  Thanks.

STEVE:  Thanks so much for coming in.

BONNIE:  Thanks for having me.

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  This one of the items that I have in the area of senior housing that I wanted to talk about, and today I brought in Steve Garver to talk about reverse mortgages.  Welcome, Steve.


STEVE G.:  Thank you, Steve.  Thank you for having me today.

STEVE:  Well, Steve, when people hear reverse mortgage, a lot of people don’t really know what that is.  Can you explain simply what a reverse mortgage might be and how a customer might use that?

STEVE G.:  Steve, great question.  A reverse mortgage is giving a senior the ability to access the equity in their home and do that without incurring mortgage payments.  And the qualification is simply are you 62 or older and is this your primary residence?  And there are no restrictions on how you’re going to use that money that you’re accessing from your equity.

STEVE:  So Steve, how do people use a reverse mortgage?  I’m sure there’s multiple ways that they can do it.

STEVE G.:  It’s as varied as the number of people that knock on the door, Steve.  And it really comes down to you either use it as a refinancing tool or you can use it as a purchase tool.  And the question with purchasing is: Where are you going to age?  Are you wanting to age where you’re at or somewhere else.  And what the reverse mortgage was doing is given the senior the opportunity to be able to have options in where they want to age.  They may say, “Well, I really want to age in place and they want to use it as a refinance too.  And in that situation, are you using it because one of earliest ones was “I’ve got to have this safari.”  And she took her safari at the age of 72.

And it could be to the opposite extreme where maybe they’re facing foreclosure and they’re using the reverse mortgage then to take away that threat of losing their home and anything in between in terms of maybe it’s to put funds into a loan that will help their kids, the grandkids go to college.  It could be that they want to have that second home, and this provides the opportunity to have that second home and not have any mortgage payment associated with it.

STEVE:  I’m sure there’s a lot of curiosity both of the senior and maybe even the senior’s children about how these work?  Do you have a counseling process and how does that counseling work?

STEVE G.:  Steve, great question.  What’s important for that consumer who is considering a reverse mortgage as a financial tool for themselves is to get enough of the right information to make the right decision in their best interest, and that starts typically with me and informal consultation.  We’re going to set down.  We’re going to understand where are you, where are you trying to go, and is this a potential financial vehicle that will help you find a solution to your problem or your challenge or your need.

And secondly, once we’ve reviewed that then the next step is a formal consultation with a counselor certified by FHA.  That’s an individual who understands this product also extremely deeply and very well and also then is going to look at not only the reverse mortgage.  Are there other options available for that senior that they’re aware of and they can share with that senior?

STEVE:  So as a person goes through this, there’s obviously trusted advisors that they have involved in this process.  What are some of the advisors that maybe a person would have involved in that decision process?

STEVE G.:  Steve, that’s an excellent question also, and I start out when I’m doing my initial consultation, I will ask if they have children that they would like to have present, trusted advisors that they would like to have come in and join them as we’re discussing reverse mortgages and how it might be a solution for them.  And it’s simply reaching out and saying No. 1, the realtor is a great potential person to have present. 

And I also encourage that they have a banker or a CPA or an elder law attorney or financial planner.  Who are the people that they would like to have to help them and advise them and not coming directly from me?

STEVE:  Well, thanks so much for coming in today, Steve.  As you can see, there’s a lot to this, but it’s also a great alternative for helping seniors.  What’s the best way for people to get a hold of you to talk about reverse mortgages?

STEVE G.:  My direct number is 612-636-9578.

STEVE:  Thanks for coming in Steve.

STEVE G.:  Steve, thanks for having me.

Steve Westmark introduces upcoming series on Senior Living!

by Steve Westmark

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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The Steve Westmark Team
RE/MAX Advantage Plus
14451 Highway 7 Suite 100
Minnetonka MN 55345
Fax: 952-241-1600