Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Q: I don’t know who to ask so I’m hoping you can help me.

My mom died a couple of months ago and I’m here on Vashon trying to sort out all of her stuff and deal with getting her house ready to sell. I am stunned by how much junk she accumulated. I live in another state and, although we visited her often, we just didn’t realize the magnitude of the problem. It’s hard enough to grieve such a loss without the huge burden of all this stuff to deal with!

A: I have sent you a separate list of folks who do estate sales, cleaning, hauling and listed some locations to drop off usable items. Your comments remind me of a recent visit I had with a friend. She is very near the end of her 89 year life and she knows it. She has given most of her belongings, slowly over many years, to friends and family.
In the last few years she was able to put treasured photos and letters on CD’s so that she can look at them any time she wants on her computer. Then she gave those items to her children. She has given away furniture she no longer needs, clothing she no longer wants, books, garden tools and so many other things.
She told me that this is her last, best gift to her family; to leave no big mess of stuff for them to deal with. She said that it was her way of showing them how much she loves them by making her passing as easy as possible and not a burden.
Everyone in real estate has had to deal with selling homes where the owners have passed away. We see the massive amount of work and trouble family and friends must go through to clean up a lifetime of collections, clothing, furniture, and just plain junk. I believe that as we age, we should thin out our stuff regularly and do our families a favor. We get attached to stuff but in the end, it’s not really that important.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Q: What is going on with rentals here?

We’ve been looking for months and can’t find anything we can afford. The few things that have come up are double what we’ve paid in the past. I grew up here and now that I’ve returned to Vashon with my husband and baby we are appalled at the prices.

A: There are several reasons for the huge jump in rent costs here. One of the main reasons is that investors who owned rentals were waiting for values to climb back up after the recession so they could sell. At this point our market has not only recovered, but prices have pushed past the values we saw before the recession.

I recently took a look at the properties that have sold over the last 12 months. By my count 70 homes that had been rentals sold to home owners who will live in them. That’s a huge number of rental units to lose in a short time even though it’s great that those buyers are now homeowners. We hear stores almost every day from renters who have been in their place for years, suddenly being given notice so that the property owner can sell the home.

It can be very discouraging to come "back home" and realize that you can no longer afford to live here. I hear that story often. We also have a large population of seniors, some on very low fixed incomes, who are renters. They are hard pressed to find something they can afford.

There are no easy solutions. Part of the problem is although rents go up on a regular basis, incomes do not. We have a large population of people who work on the Island or are retired here and are paying as much as 50% of their income for rent. I wish I had a solution. There are folks here trying to find some answers. Vashon HouseHold and our social service organizations keep working on ways to provide help. Our community does respond when there is a need. Let’s hope they respond to this problem.