Homes With Heart – Heather Coombs-Perez

Milestones are always a great way to mark the passage of time, and this week in Culver City many families are marking time by observing the pomp and circumstance of various graduation or promotion celebrations. I myself have two of these events to celebrate—my daughter is “promoting” from kindergarten to 1st grade which is always a little tearful and sweet, while my son is taking the bigger leap from elementary school to middle school. What a milestone!

The passing of time is always bittersweet. I can almost anticipate the day when I will be experiencing “empty-nest syndrome”. Aside from the emotional upheaval of transitioning from active parent to empty-nester, this is also a time that many people take stock of financial obligations and retirement planning options, particularly as it relates to a primary residence. There almost always comes a day when the house that seemed too small while the kids were at home becomes too large and unmanageable as our bodies’ age and finances become fixed.

Below are some questions to consider when debating a downsize or move:

1. What is your current mortgage situation? If your house is completely or nearly paid off, ongoing costs to consider include property taxes, insurance and upkeep of the home. If you’ve been in the home a long time and your tax base is low, you will obviously be in a very different position than one who still has a significant mortgage balance and may be looking to reduce expenses through relocation.

2. Is your house the “hub” or landing spot for visitors and long-term guests? If your family and friends reside in a different city, and providing a welcoming place to stay is a significant factor in keeping these relationships viable, then you have a non-monetary quotient to consider when deciding whether or not to relocate or downsize.

3. Would you consider renting out a room? If the answer is yes, and especially if you live in a University town, this is good option to help with expenses. Be sure to decide exactly whom you would want to rent the room and how you would deal with access to common areas, kitchens and bathrooms. Look for someone who shares interests with you and stipulate house-rules from the outset. Having a visiting Professor, grad student or working professional living with you for a time might be mutually beneficial—they get a safe, clean, temporary place to stay at a reasonable price, while you get some additional income and stimulating conversation!

No matter how you look at it, all graduations and rites of passage bring tears—both of joy and change. They are a time for great reflection and often times, great opportunity. So please join me in wishing the 2011 Graduates of all ages good luck in their future endeavors!

If you’re experiencing a change in life and want a free market evaluation or a real estate consultation to explore your options, contact me at 310-259-7419 or email [email protected]. You can also visit our website at

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