The 'Couv'

The 'Couv'

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Low Rates Driving Buyers to Market

Low interest rates are driving new buyers to the market all over the country. Although many retirees plan on a cash purchase, having entry level buyers competing for similar one level smaller homes can prove troublesome for the budget minded retiree. 

Although Washington is attractive to seniors and retirees with no income tax it is also popular among young people coming into the state for high paying jobs across a wide number of fields. The Tri-Cities and Vancouver remain popular for both retired and working people.

Retirees looking for that one level dream home may find themselves in competition with up and coming youngsters looking the jump into the is hot market with sub 3% mortgages available for solid borrowers. Retirees over the age of 55 can sometimes find communities design for older residents and may find less competition from working persons. But those communities are often sought after as well by the millions of aging boomers looking to downsize and slow the pace.

In any case retirees thinking about paying cash for a house may want to revisit the notion of a loan. Borrowing a few hundred grand at less than 3% is not a bad deal at all.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Is SW Washington State the BEST non Sun Belt Location in America?

I say non Sun Belt because let's face it, seniors tend to retire in warmer locales. Washington State and warm weather are rarely in alignment. That said Washington State enjoys the most mild winter weather of any state above the 45th parallel. How does the Evergreen State compare against the top US States to retire in? According to Investopedia the most POPULAR states to retire in and According to Wallet hub the BEST to retire in.

Rank Best Most Popular Rank Best List
1 Florida New Mexico 49
2 Colorado Florida 1
3 New Hampshire Arizona 22
4 Utah South Carolina 18
5 Wyoming Idaho 9
6 Delaware Maine 28
7 Virginia Vermont 36
8 Wisconsin Nevada 35
9 Idaho Wyoming 5
10 Iowa Montana 12

Notice that Washington State appears on NEITHER list. On the wallet hub list of "Best" places to retire Washington is crushed by it's Number 36 "affordable" ranking and that is driven largely by the atrociously expensive Seattle Metro Area housing costs.

The most popular list has some strange variance from the best list. Vermont is very popular for retirees yet ranks poorly on the best list which measure metrics important to retirees, like health care, weather, housing costs, taxes, etc.

This dynamic shows that some retirees ignore the ratings and go for other reasons, such as proximity to family, weather over all else, air travel corridors to visit family they may be leaving to retire, and so on. Why do so many North Easterners retire to Florida? Many reasons, it is a north south no-time zone flight between the Northeast and Florida. Florida is highly rated for retirees. It is a no brainer, really.

California is a state that is shedding retirees fast. Arizona and Nevada are no doubt popular choices for the exodus of California. Washington State enjoys a similar advantage to Florida for California retirees because of the short north-south flight corridor allowing for easy visits to family and friends left behind. Although California transplants are the #2 source of new residents to Washington State, Oregon remains #1 by a huge margin. Washington is an easy choice to make versus Oregon for retirees. In fact when housing costs are taken out of the equation, Washington State routinely ranks in the top 10 states in America to retire. The beautiful thing about Southwest Washington is that housing costs locally are less than HALF that of Seattle.

Southwest Washington State is regionally superior to Washington State offering all of the Evergreen State benefits without the glaring disadvantage on housing costs. Overall when separating this local area out from the rest of the state, SW Washington would easily land in the top ten best list.

Let's do a scale of 1-10 in Clark County, Washington for retirees compared to other West Coast locales, click on the chart to enlarge.

This area continues to be a large draw from West Coast retirees in Oregon and California, be it chasing the kids to better opportunities in retirement, Washington State outside of Seattle is still one the best places in America to retire.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

COVID-19 Slowing Down but not Halting Construction

Several fantastic senior living projects are in a variety of phases right now in Vancouver. The progress on some of the projects actively under construction was slowed significantly for a couple of months when the Corona Virus pandemic first hit. Now crews are back on the job and most are running at at least 60% capacity.

A few projects that are still in the planning phases may also be a bit delayed but that process is going to start picking up as well. Any people that are further along the road of retirement and may be looking for living arrangements that allow you to age in place, may need to sit tight an extra couple of months should a newer facility be to your liking.

There is a great deal of construction and planning in the senior living space her in Clark County, Washington. Washington remains a great place to retire and may be the best four-season retirement state in the USA.

I mentioned in a prior post that The Springs Living is planning on building their first high-rise property on Vancouver's Waterfront. The Block 18 proposal is working its way through the planning phases. So long as the Springs has their funding in place that project should be shovel ready in less than six months. The City of Vancouver has master-planned that entire 21 block waterfront as an urban community. The Springs proposal at 12 stories meets the minimum density requirement and should have no issue with FAA height regulations for the nearby PDX and Pearson airports. I am actually very excited about the Springs project it looks fantastic and will give local retirees a modern urban living experience on the majestic Columbia River.

Affinity at Vancouver is wrapping up their large 170 unit project in Orchards near the SR-500 & I-205 interchange. This more suburban project is close to shopping and services as well as major highways.

Overall things are looking up for retirees in Southwest Washington state even as the COVID-19 restrictions continue, projects continue to progress as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Retirees Continue to Pick Washington

Washington State continues to attract retirees more often than any northern state in the US. The lack of a state income tax and breath taking scenery are all part of the allure. This has brought a fair bit of retirement community development to the state. Washington State offers that rare four season climate without the bitter cold winters found in most northern locales.

The Springs Living, an Oregon based upscale and full service retirement community developer submitted a pre-app package to the City of Vancouver, WA for a fabulous high rise project on the gorgeous Vancouver Waterfront. this project will feature 200 units from independent living to assisted living, and memory care.

Shea Homes, the developer of the popular Trilogy retirement resort style communities has four communities in Washington State which is as many as most of the sun belt states. Three of the Washington sites are long since sold out. The newest development, Trilogy at Bonny Lake still has new homes available.

Washington is the ultimate northern locale for retirees and the robust economy means your kids and grand-kids may already be here waiting for you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Healthcare in the spotlight, with COVID-19 about

Retirees considering a move to the Evergreen State can rest assured that the health care system is in great shape. US News and World Report ranked all fifty US states for overall healthcare and Washington State was #4 and is the only no-income tax state in the top 10 and the best overall tax state among the leaders in healthcare.

Retirees tend to have concerns on healthcare and Washington State remains the best northern state int he nation for retirees and one of the best overall edging out many sun-belt locales for overall retirement living.

Washington has been hit hard by the Corona Virus but our system is handling the case load, and working through this trying time as well as can be expected for such a significant health event.

Since this site is focused on retirees, it should be noted that retirees are much more at risk to have a serious health issue from COVID 19 than younger people. Follow the direction of your local health officials and be mindful that this disease can and will kill older people and people with underlying health issues.

Be healthy, be strong, and retire to Washington State.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eastern Washington versus Western Washington

Washington State is commonly divided into east and west with the mighty Cascade range the defacto line of separation. The state is divided a bit politically as well as climatically along this geographic 'border'. Things do tend to be a bit more conservative on the right side of the Cascades and lean a bit more liberal on the left side.

The climate is a bit differing factor. Where the east side enjoys more sunshine and significantly less rainfall, it also has a much more severe extreme in both the winter and summer months. It get genuinely cold on the east side in the winter. Not quite as bad as say North Dakota, but close you know, like South Dakota ;) Sub zero temps are no stranger to cities like Ellensburg, Pullman, and the inland capital, Spokane. There will also be substantially more snowfall on the eastern side at lower elevations all the way down to sea level. (well 400 feet at least). The eastern two thirds of Washington State is a trade off for hot weather int he summer and cold weather in the winter versus a much more mild range on the west side. The west side will bring rain and some rain, and then after that a bit more rain. But wintertime temps are not likely to stay below freezing for more a than few days at a time and it is very rare to see temps in the single digits and rarer still for sub-zero. Snowfall below 1500 feet tends to be infrequent and short lived, usually. Summers are gloriously mild with dry warm weather that rarely gets hot.

8 out of the 10 largest Washington cities are on the west side. Spokane the lone "big city" east of the cascades is however the 2nd largest city in the state (for now, Vancouver, WA is likely to eclipse it soon). Spokane Valley ranks 10th. Urban dwellers will be a bit disappointed in the eastern 2/3 of the state.

Washington offers a little bit of everything and the whole state remains free of income tax which is the bane of retirees across the land.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

With New Taxes, Is Paying Cash Better?

Since the federal government passed the most recent tax package in 2017 some retirees may no longer benefit from carrying mortgage debt. Retirees often have very little to itemize other than a mortgage and the new standard deduction is a whopping $24,000 for a married couple. With interest rates near all time lows it takes a pretty big mortgage to produce interest payments over $24,000 in a year.

Paying cash for a property could lead to a better and stronger position later on. A reverse mortgage could be used later in life should cash flow in the future be impeded by natural inflation or an unforeseen financial event.

Paying cash could also open the door to places like condominiums or manufactured homes in senior parks. With no mortgage payments the HOA or park fees are likely to be easily covered with the retirees fixed income payments.

Mortgages can free up capital that may be invested elsewhere at a higher rate of return, but retirees should be mindful that risky investments are unwise in the latter third of life.

Mortgage free living allows the retiree to spend less of the fixed income each month which can help preserve assets in 401k or IRA accounts. For fixed pensions it allows for more monthly spending or to build up a solid savings account. As mentioned earlier, a free and clear house also allows the retiree to utilize a reverse mortgage to increase income later in life should the resources in the 401k or IRA run low or if the pension begins to lose ground against inflationary conditions.

As always when I write about investments and taxes I encourage people to consult with licensed professionals in the investment industry and a professional tax accountant before making decisions based on information in articles lie these. Everyone has different and often unique financial needs and conditions that ought to analyzed by an appropriate professional.