Simplifying Your Home, And Your Lifestyle

Home is a concept that is intrinsic to everyone. Everybody needs a home to feel centered, to feel like they are a part of the world. We fill them with our belongings and the various and sundry bric-a-brac that we amass throughout our lives, yes, but we create these places with the people we love most in the world. Without this love, a house is not a home, and in the opinion of Virginia Gariepy, owner/broker for The Gariepy Group, the real estate business would not be a business at all, much less a flourishing one.

Virginia GLAR photoUpon returning home to Kentucky after starting a family in New England, the flexible hours that would be necessary to raise that family were attractive to her. “It’s also one of the few professions where women and men make the same right out of the gate,” she explains. She goes on to say, however, that her true reasoning for being a real estate agent is much more altruistic: “Where else do you literally get to sell the American dream? It makes me cry, truth be told. People come from all over the world to own a home in the United States. [Real estate agents] get to be part of people’s lives, and a home is most likely going to be the greatest investment in most Americans’ lives.”

According to the Administration on Aging, people 65 and older represented 14.1 percent of the population in the year 2013 but are expected to grow to be 21.7 percent of the population by 2040, so keeping up with change means keeping up with the growing demand for realtors and brokers who can meet the needs of seniors. Right now, seniors consist of two groups: the greatest generation – those who were born in the ’20s and were young during World War II – and baby boomers – the children of the greatest generation.

A fierce dedication to ongoing education and an uncanny prescience for shifts in the real estate paradigm are Gariepy’s greatest assets, which is why she sought to attain her SRES (senior real estate specialist) certification. Thanks to knowledge afforded to her from this specialization, Gariepy attests that the greatest generation and baby boomers are vastly different, and she says to treat them as the same is a mistake: “The greatest generation is very capable and independent because they had to be. If something broke, they fixed it themselves. They want to look you in the eye and operate on a handshake, but that’s not the way the world works anymore. They require a lot of education. Most of them have been living in the same home for 40 or 50 years. Baby boomers were and are the wealthiest generation. They spent their money and educated their children; they have debt. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to entertain and live large. Neither group wants to get rid of their stuff either, so it’s not really downsizing. Simplifying is a better word.”

downsizing seniorsWith both groups of seniors, Gariepy advises that people be aware of safety hazards such as tripping and railings but also that they keep the goals and abilities of the seniors in question in mind: “Do they need to live on one level? Can they maintain a yard? If there isn’t room for their family, they won’t buy. Those little things are the things that can make you happy or miserable.”

When buying a home for a senior, Gariepy says there are other features to consider such as wider doorways to accommodate any access needs the senior may have, step-in showers and grab-bars. There are even special doorknobs with s-shaped grips for people with arthritis or other hand debilitations. “As a SRES, it’s important to make sure the homes have these things and to point them out. Say that they are going to have an upstairs. If there’s a stairway, you can get an elevator chair, but every time there’s a landing, it has to turn, which makes it a custom elevator chair,” explains Gariepy while detailing how easily things can get complicated.

Gariepy goes on to list more “do”s when house-hunting for seniors, whether it be for a house or a condominium: “Seniors should never live on the second floor unless there’s an elevator because they might not be able to do the stairs. Most seniors also want a garden, but they don’t want to take care of it or mow it. This is why patio homes are popular.” She goes on to assert that seniors like their privacy, “Most of them have lived in a home for a significant portion of their lives, so most of them want to avoid moving to apartment-style living.”

With some exceptions, most of these examples pertain to members of the greatest generation. Gariepy also has a lot to say regarding the needs of baby boomers. “A lot of them will a own a vacation home or a boat for their vacation home. They are young, vibrant, healthy and have healthy lifestyles. People think of old people as having difficulty moving, but that is just not the case with baby boomers. Many of them took a huge hit during the stock market downturn, so they’re still working. And they plan to work longer. They may have a second home, but they’re not necessarily moving completely away from their roots. This is completely different from the previous generation whose retirement dream was to move everything south.”

Chris Meyer and his family have been clients of Gariepy for years. He falls on the young side of the baby boomer generation, so in terms of residence, now is a period of transition. “Virginia [Gariepy] is helping sell one of our homes. It’s a lake property. Our kids are grown up, so we want to simplify things as we get closer to retirement. We want to be able to move more easily, even if it’s wherever our kids end up,” says Meyer. “Working with Virginia is fantastic. She’s ethical, completely transparent and very dedicated to making sure that certain processes are followed and handled the right way.”

Home is where the heart is after all, and just because seniors are older doesn’t mean they lack it. If you’re looking for knowledgeable, honorable and indomitable realtors for a senior in your life – or for a loved one of any age – you can count on Virginia Gariepy and her team at The Gariepy Group. Fill that house with love and make it a home today.

COURTESY PHOTO