1661 Choctaw- South Lake Tahoe

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This beloved family home in sunny Meyers has an unexpected floor plan that creates space for everyone! Originally built in 1979 and substantially added on to in 1998, this 4 bedroom, 3 bath home has a master suite on each floor as well as creative living and bonus spaces to use as bedrooms, nurseries, or offices. Its beautifully landscaped setting includes a fully-fenced and sprinklered backyard with a large patio for entertaining and garden shed, adding to the already substantial storage throughout the home. With other thoughtful details like two staircases, two water heaters, and a large two-car garage, this spacious home will let your creativity shine.

Your Island of Privacy- 1610 Arapahoe St- South Lake Tahoe

This Meyers 2-bedroom, 2-bath home is perfect if you are looking for an islArapahoe pictand of privacy: surrounded by a mixture of unbuildable public and private land, there is not a neighbor to be seen from the redwood deck in the backyard, only a peek of the mountains and mature aspens and willows along the seasonal creek. You enter to open plan living with a gorgeous kitchen, new in 2014, with locally-made alder cabinets, stainless appliances, and granite slab countertops. The two bedrooms are both large, the master with an en suite bath; the other bedroom, currently used as an office, would have been split to two small rooms in many houses this size but here remains a single, very large room. A classic woodstove will keep you warm in winter. Between the one-car garage with bonus space and the 10×10 shed in the yard, you’ll have plenty of storage. This is a very livable house in a flat, sunny area that anyone would be proud to call home.  All this for $396,000.

Looks Like Winter is Here :)

First snow fall this year

Well it looks like old man winter showed up a little earlier than usual this year.  The unusually large snow was a welcome sight for the local ski areas and the school kids who got to miss a couple of days of school.  We are looking forward to a snow-packed, fun filled, water producing year.

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Retirement Homes Trends Are Changing

Skyline of Columbia, SC from Arsenal Hill over...
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If your idea of a dream retirement home is a luxury contemporary overlooking a championship golf course in the desert, you better be prepared for some mighty small block parties: When it comes to retirement living, golf courses are out.

And Arizona and Florida aren’t the only retirement-relocation hot spots these days. In fact, North and South Carolina now top the preferences of baby boomers who will be retiring in the next decade, according to a survey to be released from home builder Del Webb. “How times have changed when it comes to the golf course,” said Paul Cardis, chief executive of AVID Ratings Co., a survey research firm. His recommendation to builders: Eliminate it. Bike paths and walking trails are the new greens and fairways.

Blame it all on the economy. The recession has taken its toll not only on nest eggs but also on the traditional concept of a retirement home. That’s the message that attendees at the International Builders Show received in a number of presentations and seminars.

Downsizing is a trend that is taking hold among all housing consumers, but it is particularly evident among the 55-plus crowd that includes the older baby boomers. And that downsizing includes housing aspirations in retirement. While “warmer climate” was the reigning factor in choosing where to retire in the first boomer survey Del Webb conducted in 1996, today “cost of living” is the most important consideration on where to locate. Although Florida, Arizona and California remain Top 10 retirement destinations, the trend is giving other states a chance to draw even more retirees.

Despite the broadening of potential destinations, baby boomers’ desire to move in retirement has remained relatively stable over the years. Between 30-40% plan to move to a new home in retirement, about the same as in 1996, and half of those plan on moving to a new state.

What older buyers want in homes
What kind of houses will be in demand among those 55 and older? According to a consumer survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, the most important design features that 55-plus buyers want in their homes center on the practical:

-Washers and dryers in their units
-Storage space
-Windows that open easily
-Garage-door openers
-Easy-to-use thermostats
-First-floor master bedrooms
-Private patios
-Porches
-Attached garages
-Bigger bathrooms

A lot of the more popular features in new homes these days don’t appeal all that much to older buyers:
-Island work areas
-Separate showers
-Private toilet compartments
-Sun rooms
-Woodburning fireplaces
-Exercise rooms

But a number of items that home buyers don’t find to be of much interest are much more popular with older buyers:
-Bathroom aids such as grab bars
-Kitchen aids
-Light home-repair services
-Outdoor maintenance services
-An entrance without steps
-Accessible public transportation
-Wider doorways
-Nonslip flooring

Among technology features, older home buyers tend to act like younger buyers when it comes to the basics: Both groups have a preference for security systems, energy management, structured wiring and lighting controls. But older buyers had little use for home theaters, distributed audio or home automation, more-expensive items that younger buyers do like. “These older buyers are frugal, probably on a fixed income and so expensive tech items are not that big on their lists,” said Rose Quint, the NAHB assistant vice president for survey research.

The emphasis on services related to home and community is an important one that cuts across many age groups, said John Migliaccio, director of research at MetLife’s Mature Market Institute, which surveys consumers and builders on retirement issues. “Very telling is that the younger group of mature consumers reported enthusiastically that they want services like home maintenance and repair as part of their next home purchase, along with services usually connected to older householders, such as housekeeping, onsite health care and transportation,” he said.

According to Migliaccio, all of those items were ranked higher than the desire for social activities by this group—a surprise given that social activities and amenities have been thought to be valued highly by this group. He said the data support an emerging trend among builders to look for ways to partner with providers of such services to the residents of their active adult/lifestyle communities.

Migliaccio also predicted that universal design—which includes features such as wider hallways, lever-handled doors, roll-in showers and no-stair entries—will catch on as baby boomers watch their own parents age. “The boomers are going to see their own parents age without it and they won’t like what they see,” he said.

The 55-plus age group represents 38% of all U.S. households and is projected to rise every year to be almost 45% of households by 2019. And that group has high homeownership rates: while the U.S. as a whole has about a 67% ownership rate, those 55 to 74 own homes at an 80% clip. “Most buyers in this market are looking for an easy-living lifestyle. They would like easy access to services that will free up their time from maintenance both inside and outside their homes,” said Mike McGowan, a 50-plus builder from Binghamton, N.Y. and chairman of the National Association of Home Builder’s 50-Plus Housing Council. “This data tells builders that the homes they build for older active adults will remain attractive to the consumers who will be entering that market for the foreseeable future.”

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Changes For Credit Card Users

NEW YORK - MAY 20:  In this photo illustration...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

After more than a year of talking about it, actual change has finally arrived for the tens of millions of Americans who rely on credit cards.

Come February 22, 2010, card lenders will be barred from raising interest rates on most borrowers’ existing balances—a practice that increasingly irked consumers over the last decade and one of several that federal regulators and lawmakers finally barred as unfair and deceptive.

But the new law already requires banks to give cardholders 45 days’ notice of any change in terms. So if your bank didn’t mail you a rate-change notice by January 7, 2010, you no longer face a doubling or tripling of your interest rate on your current balance—as long as you keep paying and don’t fall 60 days late. The Federal Reserve recently issued more than 1,100 pages of rules telling card issuers how to implement that new prohibition and other elements of the nation’s new credit card law, whose main terms take effect February 22.

If you’re a “convenience user” of credit cards—one of the four in 10 cardholders who pay off your bill each month—you’ll be less affected than those who carry a balance. But pay attention, anyway, because the new rules are forcing the card industry to reevaluate business models that for too long relied on tricks and traps to generate revenue. It isn’t yet clear how the card market will evolve, especially since this is playing out during the middle of a deep and painful recession.

Still, many of last year’s dire warnings don’t seem to be coming true. “Rewards” programs haven’t vanished, nor have annual fees suddenly become the norm. Average rates even dipped in November 2009, which the bankers called evidence that “issuers are working to keep rates down even in these tough times.”

In short, good customers still seem able to enjoy the benefits of paying with plastic without shouldering much more of the costs. And that’s unlikely to change, because of competition and also because of one of the basic dynamics of the credit card business: Since they also get lucrative fees from the companies that accept plastic payments, the last thing card issuers want is to steer you to start paying with cash or checks.

Highlights of the new rules include
-No rate increases on existing balances. The dirty little secret of what card issuers called “risk-based pricing” was that some of the best prices were offered to some of the riskiest customers. The trick was that they knew they could profit by offering lucrative deals to these customers because they could predict that some portion would soon be paying much more—often “default” or “penalty” rates topping 30%—on big balances.

Sometimes the new rate was triggered by a late payment of a few hours. Sometimes it was triggered by a late payment to another creditor. Sometimes it was caused by nothing more than a dip in a consumer’s credit score and contract terms allowing rates to be changed “at any time for any reason.”

What’s changed: Except for introductory rates, which must last at least six months, interest rates cannot be raised on existing balances except in rare situations, such as if a cardholder falls 60 days late.

-Faster payoffs for some borrowers. The new law also ends a trap sprung on cardholders who were lured by low-interest or no-interest balance-transfer offers but didn’t read the fine print. If they subsequently used the card for purchases carrying a higher rate, they soon found that they were accumulating interest no matter how much they paid each month. Card issuers would not allow them to pay off the purchases until the low-rate or interest-free balances had been fully paid. What’s changed: Starting February 22, any payment over the monthly minimum must go toward paying down the portion of the balance carrying the highest interest rate.

-No increases for the first 12 months. When it comes to new purchases, less has changed. You may still face an interest-rate increase based on triggers in your card contract- even for tardiness paying another creditor, the trap that came to be known as the “universal default.” But there are two key differences. The first is that since August 2009, you’ve been entitled to 45 days’ notice and the right to say “no, thanks” to new terms. The second is that, as of February 22, a card issuer cannot raise your rate during the first year an account is open, unless an “introductory rate” is expiring and the “go to” rate was plainly disclosed at the start. Of course, since card issuers can no longer apply new rates to old balances, opting out may no longer be the best solution, in part because the law allows the issuer to double your monthly minimum. You’d be better off if you simply quit using the card. But if the issuer imposes a new annual fee, opting out may be your only alternative.

-New billing and payment terms. Starting in February, your card company must mail or deliver your bill at least three weeks before your payment is due, and give you a consistent monthly due date. Payments must be credited if they arrive by 5 p.m. on the due date. And if that day falls on a Sunday or holiday, you’ll be entitled to an extra day.

-Over-limit charges. As of February 22, a card company has to ask whether you want it to approve charges that push you over your credit limit. If you say yes, the issuer can only charge you one over-limit fee per month. And if you opt out, it can’t charge you a fee if it allows such a purchase.

-Young borrowers. If you’re under 21 and want a credit card, you’ll now need to show that you have the financial resources to make payments, or obtain a cosigner.

-Big changes still ahead. This isn’t the last of the new credit card rules. By August 2010, the Federal Reserve has to decide how to implement two of the trickiest parts of the new law: its requirements that penalty fees be “reasonable and proportional,” and that card issuers who have raised customers’ rates since Jan. 1, 2009, reevaluate those rates to see if they should be reduced, and to do so at least every six months.

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Snow and Ski Report Week of 1/11/10

Ski slopes overlooking Lake Tahoe
Image via Wikipedia
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — After a rash of warmer weather, including fog and rain, some snow is expected to return this week to the area, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.

A special weather statement forecasts two winter storms this week, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. They should bring gusty winds, along with mountain snow and valley rain.

“Significant snowfall is likely on the Sierra Tuesday and Wednesday, with total accumulations of 6 inches or more in the Tahoe basin …” the statement reads.

As the storm approaches, it is expected to scour the fog that has hovered over the lake all weekend, NWS reports.

Below is an extended forecast, complements of www.noaa.gov. Also included in this story is an update of snow conditions, lift information and operations at various Lake Tahoe ski resorts as of Monday, Jan. 11. Please check with individual ski resorts for latest conditions and operations.

Extended forecast

Today: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 47. South wind around 10 mph.

Tonight: A slight chance of rain before 4am, then rain and snow likely. Snow level 7200 feet. Cloudy, with a low around 34. South wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tuesday: Rain and snow likely before 10am, then snow. High near 41. Windy, with a south wind between 25 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tuesday Night: Snow. Low around 34. Breezy, with a southwest wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Wednesday: Snow showers, mainly before 10am. High near 38. West wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Wednesday Night: A 30 percent chance of snow showers, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 31.

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 48.

Friday Night: A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34.

Saturday: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.

Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.

Sunday: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 37.

 

Resort Round-Up

ALPINE MEADOWS

www.skialpine.com

Open lifts: 8 of 12

Open trails: 32 out of 32

Upper mountain snow: 65 inches

Lower mountain snow: 40 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed main runs, variable conditions off piste.

BOREAL

www.borealski.com

Open lifts: 5 of 6

Open trails: 41 of 41

Upper mountain snow: 75-inch base

Lower mountain snow: 75-inch base

Snow condition: Machine groomed packed powder. Watch for unmarked obstacles.

DIAMOND PEAK

www.diamondpeak.com

Open Lifts: 4 of 6

Open trails: 31 out of 31

Upper mountain snow: 36 inches

Lower mountain snow: 24 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

HEAVENLY

www.skiheavenly.com

Open trails: 80 of 94

Open lifts: 28 of 29

Upper mountain snow: 48 inches

Lower mountain snow: 28 inches

Snow condition: Machine-groomed and machine-made snow.

HOMEWOOD

www.skihomewood.com

Open lifts: 6 of 6

Open trails: 59 of 65

Upper mountain snow: 54 inches

Lower mountain snow: 40 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed main runs, variable conditions off piste.

KIRKWOOD

www.kirkwood.com

Open trails: 72 of 72

Groomed Trails: 32

Open lifts: 10 of 12

Upper mountain snow: 80 inches

Lower mountain snow: 60 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed and skier packed powder.

KIRKWOOD XC

Open trail: 50 kilometers

Snow: 36 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

MOUNT ROSE

www.skirose.com

Open trails: 45 of 45 (all chutes closed)

Open lifts: 5 out of 7

Upper mountain snow: 42 inches

Lower mountain snow: 20 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed and skier/rider packed snow.

NORTHSTAR AT TAHOE

www.northstarattahoe.com

Open lifts: 17 of 19

Open trails: 88 of 91 (11 easy, 40 moderate, 37 black diamond or above)

Groomed trails: 52

Upper mountain snow: 34 inches

Lower mountain snow: 20 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

ROYAL GORGE CROSS COUNTY

www.royalgorge.com

Open trails: Not available

Groomed trails: 58

Upper mountain snow: 52 inches

Lower mountain snow: 42 inches

Snow condition: Packed powder.

SIERRA AT TAHOE

www.sierraattahoe.com

Open lifts: 9

Open trails: 43

Upper mountain snow: 38 inches

Lower mountain snow: 36 inches

Snow condition: Machine groomed.

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Downsizing???

     With the current low interest rates now may be the time to downsize form your current home.  The positives could include money savings in the areas of energy costs, homeowners insurance, taxes, and maintenance.  Lifestyle changes include such things as less time on building maintenance and cleaning.

     The hardest part of the move will probably be deciding (or agreeing) what “stuff” to part with, and how to do it.  We had a garage sale over the Labor Day weekend that was very successful.

     One should also consult their tax adviser to find out about the tax consequences of downsizing.