Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Livingston County Real Estate News

May 26, 2020

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020?

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index. Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item. Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index. Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.


Buyer Demand


The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.


Seller Supply


The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMAs the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now. With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.


What are the experts saying?


Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject: Ivy Zelman:


“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”


Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:


“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”


Freddie Mac:


“Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand.”


Bottom Line


Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.


May 26, 2020

A Common Caregiver Confession: “I Secretly Wish My Ill Loved One Would Die”

Watching an aging loved one decline is never easy, especially when they have a low quality of life. Caregivers experiencing burn out may wish for an end, not out of cruelty, but because they realize there is little they can do to help.

Every so often, someone on the AgingCare Caregiver Forum will admit that they secretly wish the person they’re caring for would pass away. Often, this person is sick, suffering and difficult to care for. The caregiver merely wants to have their life back and see their care recipient’s pain and low quality of life come to an end. Of course, those who admit to having this dark thought wonder if that makes them a terrible person. Being a family caregiver is fraught with countless difficult emotions, and this is perhaps one of the hardest to grapple with.


New Caregivers Are Driven By Love and Hope


Most of these caregivers are decent folks who care deeply about their elderly parents, spouses and other loved ones who require their assistance. As so many of us do, they have taken on the responsibility of caregiving out of love. Our help is needed, so we jump in without a thought. We have no idea that this role could last for years or even decades. It doesn’t occur to us that this decision could jeopardize our relationships, our careers, our health or our finances, but that is the reality for most.


Many families are suddenly thrust into caregiving when a loved one experiences a medical setback or receives a serious diagnosis. Everyone goes into crisis mode. This person can no longer live alone safely, but nobody wants them to move to a long-term care facility—at least not yet. So, a family member steps up or is nominated to be the primary caregiver.


Everyone is on an adrenaline high while making these decisions, but eventually reality sets in. The primary caregiver, usually an adult child, is left alone as other family members go back to their lives. They are left to manage kids, possibly a marriage, a career, hands-on care, doctor’s appointments, medical bills and so much more with little or no help.



The Impact of Long-Term Caregiving


According to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, the average duration of caregiving is four years. However, nearly one in four caregivers (24 percent) provide care for five years or more. As this role drags on, the caregiver’s personal life begins to spiral. Their significant other and kids begin to resent their focus on this ill family member. Their performance at work suffers, and their employer is often critical and disappointed. Self-care falls by the wayside as the caregiver tries to prioritize others’ needs. Everyone is somehow shortchanged, yet the rest of the family still refuses to consider long-term care. The caregiver agrees and continues forging onward. The reality of caregiving sets in: life as they knew it has changed forever.


As the caregiver’s relationships with friends and family continue to deteriorate, they likely yearn for the past, grow to resent the present and look toward the future with skepticism. There is no way of knowing exactly how long caregiving will last. Sadly, any improvement in a senior’s condition is often short-lived. There are certainly ways to lighten one’s responsibilities, such as in-home care, adult day care and placement in a senior living community, but the role of caregiver does not fully end until one’s care recipient passes away. It is this morbid realization that leads caregivers to wish for a conclusion to their situation.


Waiting for an Elderly Parent to Die


Most caregivers would have been devastated by the death of their loved ones before they took on this role. But when a care recipient has declined so significantly that they no longer resemble the person they used to be, it can be heartbreaking to imagine prolonging such a life. When a loved one is in pain, depressed, demanding, abusive, demented or violent, it is emotionally distressing for everyone involved. Physical efforts to calm them and make them comfortable or content seem to become increasingly futile and exhausting as well.


All too often, the health care system prioritizes longevity over quality of life, especially when it comes to elder care. For many seniors, a longer life comes with age-related health conditions, disability, cognitive decline, a loss of independence and financial strain. There is no denying that elderly parents living too long takes a heavy toll on the adult children who care for them. When doctors have done everything they can and an elderly loved one no longer has a high quality of life, the caregiver starts thinking how nice it would be if their care recipient just went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. The senior would finally be at peace, and the caregiver would get their life back.


When these thoughts creep in, the immediate reaction is often overwhelming caregiver guilt and shame. But is this thought really as abnormal or terrible as it seems? When we are faced with a grueling challenge, like running a marathon or working to meet a deadline, we naturally focus on the finish line or the end result. Caregiving is no different. This job is a serious undertaking, and when things get difficult, we begin to think about the time when our duties will come to an end. Unfortunately, this conclusion comes with the loss of a loved one.


Most caregivers who wish that their loved ones would die aren’t horrible people. They aren’t thinking of “hurrying up the process.” They will likely grieve this person deeply once they do pass, and they are still doing everything they can to provide the dignified, quality care this person needs and deserves. This wish is more of a fantasy. They’d just like to have their life back the way it was before all this happened. They’d like their loved one back, too—mentally and physically healthy and independent the way they used to be.


While few caregivers voice this sentiment for fear of how others will receive it, I believe that most caregivers do have this fleeting thought at some point during their journey. These are good people who have seen their lives turn into more than they feel they can handle. I believe that many of these caregivers feel depressed, overwhelmed and out of options. They are burned out and just don’t know what else to do.


How to Address Caregiver Burn Out


It’s important to remember that caregivers are human beings, not saints. I suggest the following steps for caregivers who are grappling with difficult care decisions, complex emotions and high stress levels.


Make a Doctor’s Appointment


Get a thorough physical and ask your doctor if you may need treatment for depression. Unchecked caregiver stress often contributes to burn out, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Tell your doctor about your daily routine, your moods and your mindset lately. He or she may suggest medication and/or counseling for depression and stress. If you don’t address these issues directly, at the very least, go to your annual preventative medical appointments. Caregiving takes a toll on both your emotional and physical health, and it’s important to listen to and take care of your body.


Take Time Off from Caregiving


Respite care is a necessity not a luxury. Do whatever you can to find any type of break as frequently as possible. You need time to disconnect from providing care and recuperate. Hire in-home care, take your loved one to adult day care, or ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to watch them for even 30 minutes while you decompress. Find ways to make time for yourself while also ensuring that your loved one is well cared for.


Get Away from the Care Environment


Putting physical distance between yourself and the place(s) where you provide care can help you mentally distance yourself from your responsibilities. If you like being outside, find a park where you can walk, sit on a bench, read or meditate. If you prefer the indoors, visit the local library, tour a museum, see a movie or attend a church service. Go to places that bring you peace and happiness. Ideally, you will have a place in your home as well where you can enjoy some solitude.


Reduce Caregiver Stress Levels


Exercise is known to help both mental and physical health. Although gyms and yoga classes may count as time away from caregiving, they aren’t necessarily alone time. If you need to blow off some steam by yourself, try going for a long walk, bike ride or swim. Remember that creative endeavors can be useful outlets as well. Whether you’re journaling, cooking, drawing, painting, gardening, or playing or listening to music, pursuing hobbies you love can have powerful restorative effects.


Join a Support Group


Support groups of all kinds can be found both in person and online. These group settings are excellent sources of friendship, validation, advice and empowerment. They’re especially helpful to caregivers who feel isolated and “stuck” on their journey.


Yes, I hear you laughing at these suggestions and can visualize you rolling your eyes. Back when I was a sandwich generation caregiver with five elders and two children to care for, I would have considered attending support group meetings just one more task on my endless to-do list.


Fortunately, fantastic support is now available on the internet. Support groups and online forums like those on AgingCare are invaluable to time-crunched caregivers who are seeking guidance but unable to leave the house. However, some people prefer meeting other caregivers face to face. If you are one of them, call your local Area Agency on Aging or social services office and ask about support groups. While you’re at it, ask about respite programs, financial assistance and other resources to help you put the above plans in place.


The bottom line is to get help for yourself. Wishing an ill loved one would die is not an abnormal thought for family caregivers, but it may indicate caregiver burnout or possibly compassion fatigue. Find a way to get breaks before you are the one who breaks. If this is impossible, then it’s time to bite the bullet and move your loved one to assisted living, a memory care unit or a nursing home. It may not be the care setting you envisioned, but it's a better, safer option than running yourself into the ground by providing continued care.


Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of senior related referrals.


Posted in News, Senior News
May 22, 2020

Interest Rates Over Time

Interest Rates Hover Near Historic All-Time Lows [INFOGRAPHIC]

Interest Rates Hover Near Historic All-Time Lows [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Mortgage interest rates have dropped considerably this spring and are hovering at a historically low level.
  • Locking in at a low rate today could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home loan.
  • Let’s connect to determine the best way to position yourself for a move in today’s market.
Posted in Buyer News, News
May 21, 2020

Thinking About Downsizing After You Retire?

Are you thinking about a change? Lots of elderly homeowners decide to downsize to make life a little easier. Click through to learn some of the reasons downsizing is a good option for elderly homeowners.


No matter if it’s you or your parents or grandparents, older homeowners have different needs than the average homeowner.


Having relatives close by grows in importance for many. If family members have moved away from the family home, a relocation could be in order. Or, for those with family nearby, this could simply entail downsizing or rightsizing to a smaller place across town.


Many older homeowners choose to stay put because they want to maintain their existing friendships and community connections, meaning home needs may change but the zip code may not.


Some homeowners in larger homes find the time and money necessary for its maintenance to be too much and simply look for a smaller home or a condo/townhouse that doesn’t require the same level of upkeep—or the same square footage.


Many homeowners stay in the same city or state in which they raised their family despite the fact that a change in climate might be inviting. Many retirees examine their financial situation and the tax implications of moving to another state and realize it may not be a wise move monetarily.


Before any move away from family—and a family home—can succeed, both the owners of the home and their entire family must be able to make an emotional break from the home. This will make the transition for the owners easier and the transaction simpler when all parties realize that the move is a business matter and not about a memory-filled structure that is being "lost."

Give me a call today if you'd like more information on the process of downsizing to a smaller home. The simplicity that a small house can offer is well worth checking out your options.

Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and has an extensive network of senior related referrals.

Posted in News, Senior News
May 21, 2020

Closing Costs on a Mortgage: What Are They?

Closing costs are often just mentioned in passing as part of the home purchase process, but they can be substantial and you shouldn't ignore them when budgeting. Click through to understand what exactly closing costs are.

The term "closing costs" usually includes a wide range of fees necessary when you're purchasing a house: fees for an attorney, a title search, title insurance, taxes, lender costs and homeowners insurance. The amount you'll pay in closing costs often averages 2% to 5% of the purchase price, based on the size of the loan and local taxes and fees.

If you're buying a home, your loan estimate should include an estimate of closing costs. Shortly before your closing, you should receive your closing disclosure, a document that provides final details about your loan and your closing costs. These costs may include the following:

Lender fees. Some lenders wrap all their costs into an origination fee, while others break them out into a list of such things as courier fees, appraisal costs, administrative fees, processing fees, a credit check, transfer taxes, a flood certification if one is required, and underwriting fees.

An optional closing cost is a discount point that is about 1% of the loan amount. Discount points can be used to lower your interest rate. Consult with your lender to discuss the pros and cons of paying discount points. If you're cash-poor, you're less likely to want to pay extra upfront to bring down your interest rate.

Title fees. About 70% of closing costs are title-related, so shop for title service if possible: title search, title insurance and settlement services. Settlement fees can vary by several hundred dollars from one company to another. To compare fees, make sure you understand what's covered, including a title search and courier fees.

Lenders require that you purchase title insurance — for your and the lender's protection. Suppose someone claims an ownership right to the home or says he or she hasn't been paid for work on the property and has a lien against it. Title insurance protects you if previous owners failed to pay taxes.

Prepaid costs. You may be required to set up an escrow or impound account to collect homeowners insurance and property taxes. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, you may be exempt.

At closing, you'll pay one year of homeowners insurance plus two months of premiums to be kept in reserve. You'll also be required to pay two to six months of property taxes, depending on when the tax bill is due. This can add thousands of dollars to closing.

You're not likely to avoid paying closing costs entirely, even though some of the costs can be negotiated with sellers who typically pay the real estate agent's commission. Some costs, like transfer taxes and property taxes, can't be changed, but you can ask sellers to raise the purchase price in exchange for a credit at the settlement table to cover closing costs. This lowers your out-of-pocket expenses. When it's a buyer's market, you can ask sellers to pay closing costs and not raise the price to cover them. You may request your lender to pay the closing costs. A slightly higher interest rate can be charged to recoup the money.

Be sure to keep in close communication with the real estate agent, your attorney and other financial professionals to be sure you understand what your costs are as you head toward closing date.

Posted in Buyer News, News
May 21, 2020

A Great Place to Visit -The Wixom Habitat

Wixom Habitat Park is a 292 acre nature preserve located at Wixom and Potter Roads and is home to a variety of fauna, flora and wildlife. This environmentally sensitive area is protected from the loss of wetlands occurring in other parts of the area. Phase I has been completed with a grant from the DNR and includes 800 feet of boardwalk and 2,685 feet of walking paths, a viewing platform at East Gallager Lake, and a paved parking lot with 26 spaces connecting to the citywide bike path. Future plans include additional trails, viewing platforms and an interactive nature education center. 

Posted in Wixom, Wixom News
May 20, 2020

6 Reasons Why Selling Your House on Your Own Is a Mistake


6 Reasons Why Selling Your
House on Your Own Is a Mistake | MyKCMThere are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times like the one we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert help guide you through the process. If you're considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner or FSBO, please consider the following:

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

During this pandemic, your family's safety comes first. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings, but your family's health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, agents are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumped to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. Have you?

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you'll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:
  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer's agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value
As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won't Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it's almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress that's being made toward a purchaser's mortgage commitment. Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was there yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Has Become More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they'll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent's commission. The seller and buyer can't both save the commission. A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don't actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:
Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.
The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let's connect to discuss your options.

Bruce Webb





Posted in Buyer News, News
May 9, 2020

Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver

With businesses starting to slowly open back up again in some parts of the country, it’s important to understand how housing can have a major impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned before, buying a home is a driving financial force in this process. Today, many analysts believe one of the first things we’ll be able to safely bring back is the home building sector, creating more jobs and impacting local neighborhoods in a big way. According to Robert Dietz in The Eye on Housing:

 “The pace of new home sales will post significant declines during the second quarter due to the impacts of higher unemployment and shutdown effects of much of the U.S. economy, including elements of the real estate sector in certain markets. However, given the momentum housing construction held at the start of 2020, the housing industry will help lead the economy in the eventual recovery.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes the impact new construction can have on the job market:

“Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools, according to NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.”

These employment opportunities, along with the home purchase, drive the economy in a major way. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently shared a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:

“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”

Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | MyKCMAs noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the sheer number of workers it requires to design, build, equip, and finalize the sale of the home. The NAHB paints a clear picture of these roles:

“The NAHB model shows that job creation through housing is broad-based. Building new homes and apartments generates jobs in industries that produce lumber, concrete, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other products that go into a home remodeling project. Other jobs are generated in the process of transporting, storing and selling these products. Additional jobs are generated for professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers and accountants who provide services to home builders, home buyers and remodelers.”

The same NAR report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | MyKCMOn an emotional level, what’s most important for today’s consumers to feel confident about is the safety component that goes into the process. Mitigating the risk of essential personnel at this moment in time is more crucial than ever as we all aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the NAHB has put immense effort into a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of home builders and contractors:

“This is why NAHB and construction industry partners have developed a Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan specifically tailored to construction job sites. The plan is customizable and covers areas that include manager and worker responsibilities, job site protective measures, cleaning and disinfecting, responding to exposure incidents, and OSHA record-keeping requirements.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a substantial economic driver today, and when new construction picks back up again, it will be an even stronger recovery force throughout the country. If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, you can have a significant impact on your local neighborhoods and safely make the move you’ve been waiting for. It’s a win-win.


Posted in News
May 9, 2020

Telemedicine Helps Seniors Stay at Home During Coronavirus Pandemic

Seniors, people with chronic medical conditions and their caregivers must be vigilant about minimizing close contact with people who are sick. Even as the expiration dates for COVID-19 stay-at-home orders approach and states prepare plans for reopening, hospitals, doctor’s offices, urgent care centers and other health care settings remain high-risk areas for coronavirus transmission among both patients and medical professionals.

In lieu of in-person visits, experts and health care providers are strongly encouraging Americans to rely on telemedicine tools to seek medical care.

When to Use Telemedicine Services

Telehealth appointments can replace routine visits with primary care physicians, mental health professionals and some specialists. In many cases, a virtual visit can also be used instead of a face-to-face visit at an urgent care center, but telemedicine is not meant to replace acute care for medical emergencies like heart attack, stroke or broken bones. Call 911 for any health issue that requires immediate hands-on medical care or testing (bloodwork, X-rays, etc.) for diagnosis and treatment.

For most seniors, telemedicine can be used for wellness check-ups, follow-up appointments to help manage chronic health conditions, prescription medication refills, colds and flu, and minor infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), sinus infections, and ear infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is even recommending individuals who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 like fever and cough to contact their physician and seek medical guidance via phone or telemedicine since most individuals recover at home without medical care. Of course, if a person begins exhibiting more severe symptoms like difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, inability to rouse, or bluish lips or face, then immediate medical attention is required.

How Do Telehealth Appointments Work?

While seeking medical care via computer or smartphone may seem less than ideal, telehealth tools have been used successfully for decades. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have long used telemedicine programs to expand health care access for rural and remote communities and veterans respectively.

Virtual doctor’s visits are a lot like normal appointments. If a senior’s regular doctor is offering telemedicine visits, then he or she will already have your loved one’s medical history on file for reference. If a senior has a digital check-up with a new provider, then they should be able to complete their profile on the telehealth platform, including personal information, medical history and current concerns, prior to the appointment. Certain platforms also allow patients to upload pictures to share with the doctor (e.g. images of a rash, bruise or wound) and select a pharmacy to use for any medications the doctor prescribes.


After a virtual visit has been requested, the doctor will review the senior’s health history and connect when they are ready to start the appointment. Seniors and their caregivers should decide in advance how involved the caregiver will be during the actual appointment. Once connected by phone or video conference, the senior, caregiver and physician can discuss the reason for the appointment, symptoms and treatment options.

What Do I Need for Telehealth Services?

Home health care equipment can help doctors who are working remotely make diagnoses, prescribe medications and create care plans for patients. Depending on the reason for a senior’s telehealth visit, it is a good idea to have in-home diagnostic equipment, such as a thermometer, a blood pressure monitor, a heart rate monitor, and a pulse oximeter handy during the appointment. This enables patients to provide physicians with up to date information about their vital signs like body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Doctors can instruct patients on how to take their own measurements without this equipment as well.

Of course, a senior needs an electronic device with certain features and broadband internet access to take full advantage of telehealth services. A video-capable computer, smart phone or tablet is ideal for telemedicine, since it facilitates communication between health care providers and patients and provides doctors with valuable visual information that they cannot gather through a telephone conversation. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have expanded coverage of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries who only have audio phones.

The technological requirements for telemedicine services are likely to be a barrier to access for some seniors, especially since many do not have suitable internet access at home. Although social distancing should still be a top priority for caregivers hoping to protect their aging loved ones, elders may need assistance seeking routine medical care during the coronavirus lockdown. For example, some telehealth programs are accessible directly in web browsers while others may require users to download mobile applications or video platforms to attend virtual appointments. Fortunately, a simple Google search will yield resources online that provide free technology training and tutorials for seniors who need help.

In addition to scheduling and attending virtual appointments, access to technology can enable seniors to arrange for shipment or contactless delivery of prescription medications, groceries and other household supplies to further minimize their risk of getting sick. Videoconferencing applications and programs are great for combatting loneliness and helping seniors stay connected with friends and family while social distancing as well.

How Much Does a Virtual Doctor’s Appointment Cost?

Another benefit of telemedicine is that remote appointments are often cheaper compared to in-person medical visits. A 2017 study found that the average cost of a telehealth visit was $79, although virtual mental health appointments with psychologists and psychiatrists tend to be more expensive.

Medicare only covered telehealth services in certain circumstances prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that has changed for the time being. In March, CMS temporarily expanded Medicare telehealth coverage for all beneficiaries to ensure seniors get the care they need while sheltering in place.

According to a CMS press release, Medicare telehealth visits, virtual check-ins and e-visits are covered for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Telehealth visits are considered the same as in-person visits and are billed as such, but seniors can receive these services in the safety of their homes, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Medicare coinsurance and deductibles still apply, but “the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.”

Some Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) may now offer more telehealth services than were originally included in their listed 2020 benefits. Furthermore, private insurance companies like Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and UnitedHealthcare have expanded access to telehealth services for their members and/or waived cost-sharing payments for virtual visits.

CMS has also encouraged states to expand the use of telemedicine services to deliver care to Medicaid beneficiaries. However, coverage differs by state, so it is important to check with your state’s Medicaid program to learn how to access virtual doctor’s appointments.

Uninsured individuals can take advantage of telemedicine services during the lockdown as well. There are several private-pay telehealth providers that offer virtual visits for a flat fee. Popular providers like TeladocDoctor On Demand and AmWell provide 24/7 access to online appointments with physicians, mental health professionals and even specialists like dermatologists.

How to Schedule a Telemedicine Appointment

To get started, contact a senior’s physician(s) directly to ask if they already have a telehealth program in place. If so, you can rely on their system for routine care and follow-up appointments during normal business hours. For those who require urgent care and those whose doctors do not use telemedicine, check with your insurance company to see what coverage options they offer. Many commercial health insurers provide some sort of telehealth benefit to their members, usually through a specific platform.

Telehealth appointments are ideal for busy caregivers and seniors now and after the coronavirus lockdown ends. It is wise to investigate a senior’s telehealth options and set up their profile (if necessary) before the need arises. This will ensure that they have immediate access to expert medical advice without having to download a software program or enter their health history while they are not feeling well.


The current trend toward increased access to telemedicine bodes well for the future of senior care. Virtual check-ups eliminate the need to drive to doctors’ offices, reduce the amount of time spent sitting in waiting rooms, and minimize your and your loved one’s exposure to illnesses like COVID-19, the flu and the common cold. Taking advantage of these services helps safeguard our aging loved ones, ourselves and our communities as a whole.


Bruce Webb is a Senior Real Estate Specialist {SRES} and has an extensive network of Senior Related referrals.

Posted in Senior News
May 9, 2020

The 5 Home Improvements That Give the Best ROI

Someday, whether you're downsizing or moving to another region, you'll probably want to sell your home. Whether this is something you'll be doing in one year, five years or 20 years, spending time and money upgrading your house now will increase its market value. How well these strategic home renovations work often depends on where you live, so keep your residential area in mind when you consider the different ways to improve your home. 


And meanwhile, of course, you'll be able to enjoy these upgrades yourself! 

Here are five home improvements that in general give the best return on investment. 

  1. Upgrade your home's systems. Many homebuyers plan to renovate specific rooms after they invest in a place, so appeal to these shoppers with fully functioning home systems. Make sure your appliances are working properly, especially in extreme climates where appliances require additional maintenance, and upgrade them if needed to save your buyer from dishing out extra cash on home upkeep. 
  2. Improve your home's exterior. Most homebuyers are drawn to places based on curb appeal, so impress these shoppers before they enter with a top-notch exterior. Check your roof regularly and replace it accordingly, especially in the East, and add fresh siding, a built-in porch, a modern garage door or a trendy front door to seal the deal.
  3. Expand your home's interior. A number of homebuyers want additional space, within their budgets, so address these shoppers with creative additional rooms. Increase square footage where you can, especially in competitive markets, by transforming your attic into a bedroom, extending your family room or adding a sunroom to increase house size and maximize your sales price. 
  4. Remodel your home's kitchen. Many homebuyers appreciate minor kitchen remodeling, so appeal to these shoppers with quality improvements in this area. Install hardwood floors in and around your kitchen, especially if you're in a place like Miami, San Diego or New Orleans, and include all-wood cabinets, trendy appliances or stone counters to bring in more than the total cost later on.
  5. Renovate your home's bathroom. Every homebuyer spends a lot of time in his or her bathroom, so tempt shoppers with convenient bathroom additions or a completely new bathroom. Install a walk-in shower or replace the tub, especially in Baltimore, where bathroom remodels recoup over 100 percent of their final costs at resale. People want to save space in America's most populated cities, so tap into these markets to earn nearly triple-digit returns.

These five home improvements that give the best ROI enhance your home's quality and augment its resale value.

Posted in Seller News