Q: My husband and I are looking forward to moving into a wonderful retirement community, which will put us closer to our children. In order to buy a home there, we're looking to sell our longtime family home for a reasonable price.
A major problem is that we haven't done work on the house for a long time. The decor is outdated, and many things need attention. Looking at similar houses for sale, it seems like they're either selling for below what we hope to get or staying on the market for a long time.
How can we get a decent price for our house?
A: Focus on repairs that will get you the most value.
Any major structural repairs will deduct from your selling price, but you may be unable to tackle them. If you have serious damage to the electrical system or plumbing, you may have to sell for lower than you are hoping.
Talk to a real estate agent and ask what they recommend. They know the most about the local market and what buyers are looking for. Be specific in asking what renovations will generate the most profit; what you fix should depend on demand.
Fix anything that is visibly broken, such as windows, leaky faucets, ceiling and wall cracks and appliances.
Kitchens and bathrooms yield a high return, so focus on these areas. A new paint job and a change of old fixtures is highly likely to attract buyers and will be relatively inexpensive.
Most buyers look for a house that is ready for them to live in. If your home isn't in good condition, you have a narrower list of potential buyers.
Depending on the market, it may also make sense to replace a wrecked roof. Buyers may consider your home a "fixer-upper," and their asking price is likely to be lower than the home value minus the cost of a roof repair. This is due to the inconvenience.
Additional repairs may include removing popcorn ceilings (outdated and often dirty), replacing rusty fixtures (like grates) and increasing curb appeal (focus on the front door paint and hardware).
Be reasonable about what your house is worth and choose your renovations strategically. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Q: Dementia runs in my family, and my father is almost as old as his father was when he was diagnosed. Dad seems fine so far, but I know it can be hard to notice changes in the people close to us.
How can I distinguish dementia symptoms from normal aging?
A: Pay attention to the subtle signs of dementia.
Difficulties with language are particularly common, including finding the right words and following complex stories.
You should also pay attention to your father's memory. Look for confusion and subtle, short-term memory problems — for instance, forgetting events from earlier in the day but not decades ago. Many people also tend to repeat tasks and say the same things again and again.
You may notice that he has more difficulty with normal tasks and an impaired sense of direction. It's also very common for people to become less adaptable and struggle with change.
Some other noticeable symptoms are related to temperament, such as mood changes and apathy. Depression is common for people with nascent dementia.
Remember to be patient with your father. None of us can escape aging, but dementia is a particularly difficult experience.
Treat him kindly and enjoy your time together! — Doug
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.