Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Vacation

After being diligent about having new and interesting information for you for the last 2 weeks, I'm heading off on a little vacation and will miss a few days. Seattle has been the location of choice for family holidays together for several years, especially since the grandkids arrived. Picture at the left shows grandson T.J., and granddaughter Sadie Rose; ages 8 and 7. This was during a hike on Whidbey island in Puget Sound.

If you are a new reader, please take time to check out my previous postings and add any comments to complement my ideas. And if there are any specific topics that you would like me to research for you, please let me know.

So in case I don't get back on early this week, my best wishes to you for a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Tom Binder

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Willow Glen AARP meeting: Monday Nov. 24

The Willow Glen chapter 5193 of AARP will be meeting this Monday, Nov. 24, 1:00pm at the Willows Senior Center, Room 11. The program for Monday will be a very timely presentation by Financial Advisor David Samuels of Corinthian Wealth Management. His subject will be “Your Retirement Assets: How to Make Them and Keep Them”

Dave will be accompanied by an Elder law attorney who specializes in Estate Planning, Lisa Bryant.

So this will be a great opportunity to hear the most current information concerning the management of your finances and to ask any questions to some real experts.

All visitors will be welcome and refreshments will be served.

Hope to see you there.

Regards and have a great day.

Tom Binder

Friday, November 21, 2008

Senior Dogs for Seniors

I just attended a presentation by Carol Adler of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center about how she uses a dog, Alma, in assisting with the rehabilitation of disabled and seriously injured people at the hospital. It is remarkable how Alma can make almost instant connection with the patient, although people involved (doctors, nurses, therapists, and even family) can have a very difficult time making that personal connection. If you ever have a chance to see Carol’s presentation, do it! It is awesome!
Carol described the Canine Companions for Independence program that provides highly trained assistance dogs to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. These dogs add a whole new dimension to the lives of the people who are limited by their disabilities. You'll enjoy see how this organization works at .

But dogs can also be a very positive addition to the lives of seniors. They can bring companionship and result in all kinds of enjoyment and new experiences. And the Senior Dog Project promotes “Senior” dogs as the best way for Seniors to acquire a companion pet. Some of the benefits of a mature dog that they identify are:
-Won’t chew inappropriate things
-Knows what “no” means
-Good at giving love
-Instant companion
-Time for yourself; fewer demands
-Are mature, won’t change over time;
-you don’t need to start with a puppy!! Most of us know “puppy” stories that might discourage anyone from getting a dog.

Information about the Senior Dog Project can be found at:

Golden retrievers are my absolute favorite dogs. When I see one being walked in my neighborhood, I always need to stop and visit. There is a golden retriever rescue program that acquires unwanted goldens and make them available to good homes; check this at:

Walking your dog can be really good exercise for both you and the dog. But don’t forget your plastic bags (this responsibility isn’t really all that bad), and the bending over to clean up after the dog is additional exercise.

Hearing about your experiences with dogs will be interesting for all of us.

Have a great day.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time for exchanging your rental property??

Investment Property: What can I do in this market??

Many people who have invested in property are probably wondering to themselves: “What the heck should I do now??” Does the current Real Estate market allow any opportunity to make, or reason to make, changes to my investment property portfolio? In many cases, the answer can be “yes”!! And executing a 1031 tax-deferred exchange now could provide some definite advantages.

Owners of rental homes or multi-unit rental properties could find this an excellent time to exchange into different property investments and accomplish a variety of investment goals:
1)Portfolio diversification: numerous smaller properties, and properties in other areas
2)Exchange non-income-producing raw land for rental units that can create positive cash flow.
3)Exchange a fully depreciated property into a higher valued property that can be depreciated further.

And if you’re tired of managing your rental properties after all these years, exchanging into a Tenant-in-Common investment (TIC) can relieve you of a lot of work, improve your cash flow, and diversify you into other geographical areas that offer better property appreciation.

So instead of hunkering down and just doing nothing because the Real Estate market is going through a transition, you can take advantage of the situation to make some very beneficial, and maybe overdue, changes to your investment property portfolio.

Let me know what you think. And comment with your opinions for other readers.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Humor for Grandparents

My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, '62.' He was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, 'Did you start at 1 ?'

My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, 'Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?' I mentally polished my halo while I asked,'No, how are we alike?' 'You're both old,' he replied.

A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. 'What's it about?' heasked. 'I don't know,' she replied. 'I can't read.'

When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, 'I'm not sure.' 'Look in your underwear, Grandpa,' he advised. 'mine says I'm four to six.'

Grandchildren can always make us smile!!!!!



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Joy Johnson - Our Exercise Hero

If my pitch yesterday didn't convince you that you can exercise, read this !! Willow Glen has it's own exercise hero. Joy Johnson is an 81 year old Willow Glen resident who can be a model for all of us. She has just completed her 21st New York City marathon run (that's 26.2) miles!!
Joy started running in her late-50s and has become one of the best Senior runners in the country. Maybe the best!
Joy has won her age group in the NYC marathon for 5 of the last 11 years. And when she found that her running time was beginning to drop off this past year, she decided to just train harder. Training at Willow Glen High School, Joy started doing extra speed work, and running the bleachers. And as a result, she improved her time for the Marathon by 50 minutes.
I also do some running at WGHS and when I see Joy doing her workouts, she is a real inspiration for me.

Have a great day
Tom Binder

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seniors: GET MOVING !!

Exercise is an activity that can make our senior years much more enjoyable. And it is so easy!!! And you don't need to join a gym or buy a lot of equipment. Exercising for endurance can be as simple as walking and you don't need to go out and buy a fancy treadmill. You can, if you're a real gadget lover, but save the money! Here in Willow Glen, our weather is so good most of the time that walking around your neighborhood is a great way to get some endurance exercise and get reacquainted with your neighbors.

AARP earlier this year got a lot of people started on a walking program "Step Up to Better Health" and passed out pedometers to all participants. See a summary of benefits of walking at

And a few little hand weights is all you'll need to get started on a good strength program.

Following are website locations for National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health that provide a lot of great information on the benefits of exercising.

Exercise, in addition to just making you feel better, will also prevent or delay diseases like diabetes, heart and vascular problems, and many diseases associated with being overweight.

While virtually everyone can benefit from exercise, it is a good idea to check with your doctor before the start of an active exercise program. If you think you want to have the help of a personal trainer to get started, let me know an I can pass along a couple of names.

My daughter Katie, who is a doctor, tells me the story of interviewing a patient and asking him if he gets any exercise. He said "Sure; every time I want a cigarette, I need to walk downstairs, go outside, smoke my cigarette, walk back in and walk up the stairs!!!" That's not what I'm suggesting!!!



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Caregiving for Seniors

The good news: We’re all living longer !!
But what now??: A whole new set of challenges !!

At the beginning of the last century, the average life expectancy for newborns was 47.3 years. Today it is 77.8 years!! And that is only the average, as we all know people who are living well into their 80's and 90's. While that sounds great, this change in demographics for our population presents new challenges that society is just now beginning to understand and tackle. And one of the biggest challenges: what types and quantity of services and resources will be needed and how will they be delivered as the proportion of “elderly” in our population increases significantly. The term “caregiving” has evolved to generally include this broad range of services.

A short, but not comprehensive, list of some currently available options for elderly “caregiving” could include the following:
-Family caregivers
-In-Home Care Providers
-Home Health Care
-Adult Day-Care facilities
-Independent Living Communities (IL)
-Assisted Living Communities (AL)
-Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care
-Retirement Communities
-Rehabilitation Facilities

I will not even attempt to detail the specifics of each type, but will mention that the traditional approach has been that the family of the elderly person actually performs all of the caregiving. As we enjoy these longer lives, it is becoming more and more unrealistic to expect family caregivers to continue to provide all of the caregiving. With families being spread all over the country, with special medical care being needed, with special facilities being required, and with caregiving needed over much longer periods of time, families cannot cope with all of these issues.

Most families don’t do any real planning for the caregiving of their elderly until it is crisis time and something must be done quickly, or until the old approach of family members carrying the entire burden collapses because the work is overwhelming. And by then the primary family caregivers need their own special help. My goal is to raise the issue for you before the crisis comes.

If you have needs now or can see them on the horizon, I can provide contact information for true experts in this field who can help you determine a game plan for being prepared and moving ahead. Please either add a comment to this post or email me directly with any specific questions or needs, and I will get an expert to help with providing the best information.

Tom Binder

Friday, November 14, 2008

Computer Classes for Seniors

SeniorNet Computer Classes: Willows Senior Center

If you are reading this, you just might be well along the learning curve for the Information Age. But there may be a lot more to learn that will make your computer so much more useful, and fun.

There is no question that access to the Internet has become our window on the world and puts an unbelievable amount of information literally at our fingertips. Regardless of the scope of our interest in daily activities, from worldwide politics to local Willow Glen book signings, the Internet is the most comprehensive and the most accessible source of information.

And communication!!!! I once proposed that we change the name “computer” to “communicator” since the greatest usage of the PC is really communicating with family, friends, and just about anyone. But no takers!!

And once you have your PC, there are so many ways it can be used to support your other activities. Downloading pictures from your digital camera, and emailing them to family anywhere in the world can be come the easiest way to preserve and share memories. And buying a book online, or making travel reservations online, or just checking the latest sports scores and schedules and be done quickly and accurately with very minimal effort.
The SeniorNet classes are designed for people over 50 and you can select from a wide range of courses that will complement your existing knowledge. So whether you are a computer novice, or already have a good start along this path, there will be SeniorNet courses that will be valuable, and fun, for you. And they are held locally at the Willows Senior Center at 2175 Lincoln Ave. Check at for specific information.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is now the time to sell your home??

I was talking to an 84 year old client and she has decided that it is not prudent for her to continue to live alone in her current house which is way too big for her now. She asked if she should consider selling her home of 35 years in the current housing market. As with many questions, the first answer is often “It depends”.

1)Timing: If she is going to definitely move within the next 2-3 years, now is probably as good a time to sell as anytime soon. Nobody knows what the housing market will do in the near term future, but there isn’t a lot of hope for a positive change soon. And with prices in most areas declining, selling sooner would seem better than selling later.
2)Equity: Since she has owned her house for many years, she probably has a significant amount of equity built up in her home. Three years ago, home equity seemed to be a great place to hold your assets. But that isn’t true now and a good financial planner could assist her in taking the proceeds from selling her home and investing in much safer income-producing assets.
3)New home: And where she intends to live after selling her home will affect her decision. If she wants to downsize to a smaller, single story, ground level condo, then she needs to also work on the issues of buying a new place, and now is a great time to do that. But if she is planning to move into a Senior Community, then financial stability and investment cash flow numbers need to be worked out.

And things like capital gains tax and tax base transfer all need to be considered.

Let me know if you have any related questions about selling your home.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AARP Willow Glen

Many of us are members of AARP and benefit from the variety of information that we get through various channels. But most of us don’t know that we have a local chapter of AARP here in Willow Glen. This chapter meets monthly and has programs that are both educational for Seniors and entertaining. Recent meetings have included presentations on Lighthouses of San Francisco Bay, Election review by the League of Women Voters, Lung Health for Seniors, and Tai-chi Exercises.

The program for the next meeting, on Monday, November 24, will be “Your Retirement Assets-How to Make Them and Keep Them”. This is a very timely program in light of the current problems in the financial markets.

In addition to the monthly special program, each meeting includes a legislative report which brings members current with how our state government in Sacramento is dealing with issues affecting Seniors.

The meetings are the 4th Monday of each month at the Willows Senior Center, 2175 Lincoln Avenue, in Room 11. Also each meeting includes refreshments plus time to socialize with other members.

Senior Humor of the Day

Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70, or beyond that!

01. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
02. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
03. No one expects you to run--anywhere.
04. People call at 9 pm and ask, did I wake you?
05. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
06. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.
07. Things you buy now won't wear out.
08. You can eat supper at 4 pm.
09. You can live without sex but not your glasses.
10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.
13. You sing along with elevator music.
14. Your eyes won't get much worse.
15 . Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.
17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

Have a great day!!!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Staying in your home or downsizing

As a large segment of our population ages into their “Golden Years”, the great majority of them want to continue living in the home that has been their castle for the previous 20+ years. Many of the reasons to want to stay-put are very understandable and can include:
– Location/Convenience
– Family
– Social
– Lifestyle
– Independence
– Familiarity
However, as we age, there are other issues that should make us evaluate whether staying in the same home is really the best decision. These can include things like:
• Home Maintenance
• Available Services
• Financial Requirements
• Transportation
• Family/Neighborhood/Transportation
• Caregiver Access
• Health/Safety/Security
There are many circumstances that can cause the challenges to outweigh the reasons to stay put, and downsizing can then be the best alternative. In addition, downsizing to a new location can actually better solve many of the perceived reasons not to move. A better location can make vital services more convenient and help resolve the general transportation problem. And most important, a new home can be selected to specifically solve some of the difficulties being encountered in your existing home: steps to negotiate, narrow hallways, inaccessible storage areas, and availability of a required caregiver.

What is the best alternative? What do you think?

Prop 60 and Prop 90 Related to Proposition 13

Many people have asked exactly how the Prop 60 and Prop 90 work be able to take their Property Tax Base under Proposition 13 with them to a new home, and what the differences are.

The first rule is that one of the parties must be 55 years or older. (Make sure to confirm cooperation from the County in question prior to making a decision based upon this information as the participating areas and counties occassionally change their acceptance policy).

Proposition 60 applies if you move within your same County Proposition 90 applies if you move to a co-operating County.

Props 60 and 90 apply if you "trade down" (i.e. the new home costs less than the sales price of the old home).

> If you buy a New Home 1st; then sell the Old Home, you must go down in price.
> If you sell the Old Home1st; then buy the New Home: In 1st 365 days after the sale of Old Home, you may go up 5% in the purchase price of New Home.
> If you buy New Home more than 1 year from the sale of Old Home, but less than 2 years, you may go up 10%.

You have to buy down and take your base with you OR
You can purchase a home for what you sell for sales price + 5% within the 1st year after you sell OR
You can purchase what you sell for sales price + 10% after 1 year from sale of prior home.

IE: a $2 million sale would mean you could buy maximum $2.2 million after 1 year.

CAPITAL GAINS: The other issue that you MUST talk to your Tax Accountant is the possibility of Capital Gains in the sale of your home. If you have had your home long enough to still have your Proposition 13 in effect, your basis is probably very low. In the sale of your home, you will have an exclusion of $250,000 each, ($500,000 per married couple), from taxable gains – gains over that amount - chances are pretty good that you may have a taxable gain event.


Since its passage, Proposition 13 prohibits property tax increases until property ownership is changed.
If either spouse is over age 55 (when the old home is sold), PROP 60 allows replacement of a primary residence with a new home of equal or lesser value (but see below) within the same county and transfer of the Prop 13 assessed valuation from the old home to the new property. This is allowed once in your lifetime, and a spouse who has done it before 'taints' both spouses.

PROP 90 allows counties to elect to accept transfers of Prop 13 values for moves from other counties when a primary residence is replaced with a less expensive (but see below) home. If you are over 55 and move into a county which accepts Prop 90, you may take your old, lower Prop 13 value, regardless of from which county you move.

Using Prop 90, you can sell your $400,000 San Francisco home [assessed value $80,000] and move to a new $300,000 home in San Mateo; the new San Mateo assessed value will be $80,000!

7 COUNTIES WHICH ACCEPT PROP 90 (Current as of 6/1/2008)
Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Ventura. [Contra Costa, Inyo, Kern, Riverside, Modoc, Monterey, and Marin have dropped out of the Prop 90 program.]
As always, speak with your own personal Tax Consultant prior to making any moves involving your tax basis.

Dawn O'Neal

Welcome to Willow Glen Seniors blog

Hello and welcome to the Willow Glen Seniors Blog. Since I do a lot of my Real Estate work with Seniors, I have developed a broad network of associates who provide services to Seniors. These services cover a very wide variety of needs for Baby Boomers and Seniors and I’ve found that most often people, who need such services, don’t know where to find them. Hopefully this blog will be a resource for exchange of information that many Seniors can use.

I will be posting information on many different subjects and will be soliciting information from experts on those subjects in which I have only little knowledge. So please feel free to comment on any of my Posts and ask any questions that might make the information more useful to you, your family, or your friends.

In addition, I have included links to some additional web sites, Senior Sites, that might be a primary source of information for you. If you have any suggestions for the Willow Glen Seniors blog, please let me know.

Best regards and have a great day.