Left: This outdated shower/tub unit was rarely used and presented a fall hazard. Right: Bruce Graf updated the bathroom with trendy tile and frameless glass, which is now wheelchair accessible. (Photo: Graf Developments)

Left: This outdated shower/tub unit was rarely used and presented a fall hazard. Right: Bruce Graf updated the bathroom with trendy tile and frameless glass, which is now wheelchair accessible. (Photo: Graf Developments)

“For most folks, their home is the biggest investment they own,” said Bruce Graf, a home remodeler with more than 30 years of experience in working with multiple generations of families.

Graf has helped families remodel a house to accommodate growth, and then returned years later to adapt their home to special health needs so they can continue aging-in-place within that same residence filled with lots of memories.

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empty nesters

Aging in place is a big trend in real estate and housing.

Oh man, I’ve got to start this post with a quote:

“The back to the city” meme appeals to urban boosters and reporters but in reality the numbers behind it are quite small. A 2011 survey by the real estate advisory firm RCLCO found that among affluent empty nesters, 65% planned to stay in their current home, 14% expected to look for a resort-type residence, and only 3 percent would opt for a condominium in the core city. Most of those surveyed preferred living spaces of 2,000 square feet or more. RCLCO concluded that the empty nester “back to the city” condominium demand was 250,000 households nationwide, a lucrative but small market out of the 4.5 million empty nester households in the metropolitan areas studied.

250,000 nation-wide? I found this story by my pal Joel Kotkin to be very interesting and worth a mention or five. First of all, where ARE the most Baby Boomers living now? They currently make up 15 percent of the nation’s population, that figure expected to expand to 21 percent.

Answer: Tampa-St. Pete, Pittsburgh, Tucson, Miami, Buffalo, Cleveland, Rochester, Providence, Hartford, St. Louis and interestingly, Birmingham, Alabama, probably because of its manufacturing history. Two sand states and the rust belt.

The cities with the smallest percentage of Baby Boomers are Austin, Salt Lake City, Houston, DALLAS, and Raleigh, NC.

Why is this so important? (more…)

jeffrey green

In our ongoing series, Interview with an Architect, we speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals (you can read the last one here).

Jeffrey L. Green sees artistry in a home renovation, finding “the potential in what is existing and breathing new life into a home that many might not consider salvageable.”

Jeffrey Green, AIA

Jeffrey Green, AIA

This is something he practices as Vice President of Architectural Interior Design and Construction Administrator at Dallas-based PBH Construction.

PBH Construction is his family’s business, and Green helped with many projects before joining in 2009. His design and build experience includes new constructions, rebuilds, and renovations of single-family and multi-family residential homes, as well as commercial, retail, and institutional spaces.

In addition to older homes, Green is passionate about older people—namely, helping them build or re-create their homes so they can age in place. This is a big topic in the architecture community now largely because of the 76.4 million Baby Boomers, the oldest of whom will turn 70 this year.

Green is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), which makes him part of the growing dialogue on how to manage aging issues like a home’s livability for older Americans. He says this is just good design practice for all people.

“Ultimately, you want a home that is welcoming and accessible to all residents and guests,” Green said.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from Baylor University, and his Master of Architecture degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. While attending Baylor, Green completed a cooperative program, studying one year at Washington University’s Architectural Studio in St. Louis, Mo.

Green began his career with The Preston Partnership, LLC in Atlanta. He was responsible for site planning and due diligence, schematic design and graphic visualization, 2D- and 3D-rendering development, and more.

Green’s talent for design has earned him several recognitions, including a Rosser International Fellowship Award, a winner of the 2000-2001 Otis/ACSA International Student Design Competition in Istanbul, Turkey, and a Presidential Scholarship Award.

He answered eight questions from us about his work, trends in the architectural community, modern design, and Dallas. We learned a lot!

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WalletHub Retirement Map

WalletHub released its 2015 list of the best and worst places to retire based on 23 metrics across the 150 largest cities in the USA. Texas is a mixed bag. Unsurprisingly, six of the top 10 are in Florida (4) and Arizona (2) – states with no income taxes and long-time targets of the retirement set (and so resources targeting seniors). The first Texas city in the rankings is Amarillo at #14 – we’ll talk about that later.

The main buckets of “affordability,” “activities,” “quality of life,” and “health care” are each sub-divided into smaller buckets. Some of these sub-buckets are subjective. For example, within “activities” there are the numbers per 100,000 residents of senior centers, fishing, hiking, golf, adult volunteer activities and another WalletHub comparison on “recreation” that includes parks and overall climate.

I don’t know about you, but fishing, hiking and golf are not high on my list now or in retirement. And besides, many cities in Texas are penalized by geography. For example, coastal cities in Florida and Hawaii are the winners in fishing while cities with hilly or mountainous geographies nab the top spots for hiking. In flat cities like Dallas, hiking is called walking.

When looking for a place to retire, first examine your own needs and desires – and in many cases the subjectivity of intangible measurements. For example, there’s the assumption that retirees want to live surrounded by other retirees. Like gravity, the more old folks there are, the more it will attract. While there is something to be said for living around people with shared life experiences and longevity, personally I’d want to live in a more vibrant area to expose myself to the world of new ideas and change rather than a seniors-centric bubble of early dinners, coupons and golf carts.

Some numbers are head-scratching. For example, Dallas is ranked #72 out of 100 for climate while Arlington nets #36 and Fort Worth #32. Winter-filled Boise, ID is ranked #26 while “driving with potholders for half the year” Scottsdale, AZ is #3, Phoenix is #17 and neighboring Chandler, AZ, is #14. How do weather and climate differ so dramatically in the space of 20 or 30 miles? They don’t. And if that’s not enough, aside from Dallas, all these cities, including Tulsa and Oklahoma City, rank higher in climate than #43, Honolulu. Really?

So how did the metroplex fare?

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Curbless shower master bath Graf Developments

Bruce Graf says that aging-in-place can be stylish with key updates in often-used rooms, such as master suites.

A survey recently released by the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business polled 1,000 people ages 50 to 80 years old. Only about 1 in 5 respondents to the survey had any plan to remodel their homes or incorporate technology to help them as they age, and yet, the vast majority (96 percent) of respondents said they want to remain independent while they grow older, and 91 percent said they wanted to stay in their own home, commonly referred to as ‘aging-in-place.’

Bruce Graf, a nationwide renovation consultant with over 32 years of experience and a Baby Boomer himself, scoffs at these survey results.

“It’s funny, people will spend $50,000 for a car. This is something with a relatively short life and depreciates the very second it’s driven off the car lot,” Graf said. “However, they think twice about spending that amount on their home, a place they could spend the next 30 years in easily, and it appreciates greatly.”

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Photo courtesy of Robert Hensley via a Creative Commons license

Photo courtesy of Robert Hensley via a Creative Commons license

Dallas is one of 15 top markets poised to attract baby boomer homebuyers because of an affordable cost of living, sunny weather, and friendly business climate, according to new research by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

NAR looked at 100 metro areas with lower state taxes (or none at all, as is the case in Texas), stable job market conditions, and strong migration patterns of “leading-edge baby boomers” (those 60-69) moving to that area. By doing this, they predicted which housing markets are likely to see a boost from baby boomers. Cost of living, housing affordability, and housing inventory availability were also factors in their rankings.

For these reasons, Dallas was identified as one of five markets with strong potential for attracting baby boomer homebuyers.

“It comes down to housing affordability, and lower tax rates in the Dallas area and the state as a whole,” said Adam DeSanctis, NAR economic issues media manager. “More boomers after 65 are working, some because they have to, or feel like they have to, but also those that are healthier and want to maintain an active lifestyle. Those [baby boomer] business owners come to Dallas for its dynamic local economy.”

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Coventry Front

You just have to love how homes change as demographics age. Now that Baby Boomers are retiring, a growing number of single-family homes are being marketed just to this demographic.

So I wasn’t surprised to get this note from superstar Dave Perry-Miller agent Christine McKenny (woman is ON FIRE!) about a very special listing in the Downs. With almost 5,000 square feet, four bedrooms and four full and two half baths, well, you get plenty of space without having too much at 2 Coventry Court. Here’s how Christine put it:

“There are so many empty nesters looking for a master down with the majority of the square feet on the main level. This property also offers both the master down as well as an additional bedroom down. It is also one of only a handful of homes in the Downs that offers a complete private zen landscape with flagstone deck, arbor with fans and lights, redone pool and a small yard that is lushly landscaped. (Yes, a small yard in the zero-lot-line subdivision!)”

Yep, this house has exactly what every Baby Boomer wants. What do you think?

Coventry Living Coventry Kitchen Breakfast Coventry master Coventry Backyard

boulder front

Southlake is such a fabulous town, with great schools, incredible shopping, and beautiful neighborhoods. I just love this area, which is perfect for families with school-aged kids. But what if your nest is empty and you’re not expecting a boomerang kid? Downsizing has probably crossed your mind.

That’s what Merlene Ingraham and her husband are doing. They’re selling their barely-lived-in Southlake home and heading closer to Dallas, like many Baby Boomers, so they can be close to the arts.

Boulder staircases

This house is just magnificent, with four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and one half bath, more than 5,800 square feet and the most amazing finish-out you can imagine. Really, I am in awe of 517 Boulder Drive, which is marketed by Dave Perry-Miller agent Christine McKenny for $865,000. Plus, it’s hardly been lived in at all. This home has so much visual impact, from the pristine, white exterior to the twin staircases in the foyer, your eyes will just pop.

Boulder Kitchen

My favorite part of this home, which will surprise absolutely no one, is this bright and beautiful kitchen with cottage-style white cabinets and stainless steel appliances. There’s an ample island, too, for preparing feasts for all occasions or perhaps just being a gathering space for girlfriends as you gab over glasses of Pinot. It’s open to the living area, too, which has high ceilings and huge windows.

Boulder pool:backyard

The master bath is amazing, too, with a soaking tub and luxurious tile, but the place I can see myself relaxing is the backyard. I just love the garden, which has a great English feel with short, wandering hedges. The pool is just beautiful, too. But it’s pretty large for just two people, right? I’m sure Merlene and her husband will find a gorgeous condo near the Dallas Arts District that will give them everything they need.