Day 74, Scanning and Channing House

Tuesday, 2/12/2019

The refurb-Macbook seller is being extremely nice about my ordering the wrong kind of laptop. I don’t have details yet but they are quite willing to exchange what I actually ordered for something that sounds like what I intended to order.

I started out for a run but the temperature was so low, 41º, which, I know, would be quite comfy for people in some parts of the world, but I quickly found it too cold for running, even with a jacket on. No, I don’t have any sweat pants. So I cut it short, a bit under a half mile.

I scanned one picture of my father that had turned up in the pile of pictures I sorted through with Jean on Day 70. That day had yielded a little wad of old pics that I need to digitize and share with Jean, and this was the first. But looking where to store it in my Pictures folder structure, I realized there are some shortcomings in how pictures related to my own history are organized. I need to spend an hour sorting that out before scanning more.

Then I worked my way half-way through the biggest slide group of all, “120 Big Loop of 00”. In ’00 we went on a six-week ride in our van across the South to Memphis, up to Chicago, West through the Dakotas to Seattle and home. The slides are excellent documentation of that trip, if one wanted to relive it. Pictorially they aren’t yielding much.

At 1:40 I headed out for a meeting with Kim Krebs, the marketing director at

Channing House

where I learned the nitty-gritty about pricing and availability.

Availability is slim at the moment, owing to the on-going upgrade project that Craig told me about when I toured the place on Day 50. When that finishes in two years (!) Kim will suddenly have 20-odd units to sell — the units now being used to relocate tenants as one floor at a time is cleared for remodeling. Still, units also become available in “the natural cycle” as she put it. People die or make a permanent move to the nursing wing at fairly regular intervals. As a unit becomes available, Kim offers it to the next person on her wait list that is interested in that size of unit.

There are actually eleven sizes of unit: four sizes of studios; four sizes of 1BRs; and three sizes of 2BR/2bath units. The only vacant unit at the moment is an Alcove, which is a jumbo studio. She showed me this unit. Picture a rectangle about 25×30 feet. One wall is mostly glass and opens on a 5-foot-wide deck. The inner wall has a walk-in closet and a bathroom. There’s a minimal kitchen, more of a wet bar, by the door. (“We could install a cook-top,” Kim said.)

I’m sure that a good decorator could work out some kind of room divider arrangement that would give that space the feel of a living room plus semi-private bedroom, but I can’t imagine how to do it. Although this unit is ready now for anyone who wants it, I think I would hold out for a real 1BR. (Although again, the floor plans for a 1BR look a little confining, with about 700 sq.ft. divided almost equally between living and bedroom. Maybe the Alcove could work — if I only knew a good designer…)

I now have the official rate sheet. Both the entry fee and the monthly fee are different for each floor plan, and different for higher versus lower floors. For a single person the entry fee ranges from $200K for the smallest, lowest studio, to $500K for a medium 1BR, to $800K for the biggest 1BR on an upper floor. These are not outrageous numbers, given what they buy: lifetime occupancy with “continuing care” at no added cost (“We are a CCRC with a Type A contract” was how Kim worded it; here’s an explanation of that.)

There’s a monthly fee that also varies with the unit type and floor (the rate sheet is quite elaborate!). The range of monthly fees goes from $3600 at the lowest to $10K at the highest. For a medium 1BR it’s about $5500 in 2019. Kim said these fees typically rise 3%-4% each year.

A very interesting financial point is that about $2000 of each month’s fee can be attributed to “medical expense” and thus deducted from one’s taxes. Also, approximately 25% of an entry fee can be a deductible medical expense. I will discuss this with my advisors when I talk to them; I’m not sure what the net effect would be on my taxes.

We talked about the issue of “bridging” between the entry fee and the sale of one’s home. Webster House offers a 90-day interest-free note (a fact that seemed to be news to Kim). Channing House’s policy is 20% down on move-in, and the rest can be paid later, but they charge an annual rate of 10% on the unpaid balance.

Let’s say it takes 60 days to complete the sale of one’s house. The numbers for the $500K fee for a 1BR would work out like so: 20% or $100K down, $400K borrowed for 60 days at 10%, which if I do the numbers right, means paying about $6600 in interest. One would have to consider carefully (or actually, one’s financial advisor could get out the old calculator and do some real work) whether it would be cheaper to liquidate some stocks and pay the whole fee up front. (Bearing in mind that up to $120K of the entry fee is deductible, which ought to offset some capital gains. Not simple!)

In any case, Kim’s advice on selling is to not wait until a unit is available to start the selling process. She recommends getting your real estate person involved now to talk about what needs to be done to expedite a sale when it’s time. As it happens, I’ll be talking to one potential agent this coming Sunday, so I’ll bring it up.

Anyway I am going to begin their application process. This involves two extra steps: they have a health form they want filled out by a doctor based on a recent exam. So I need to schedule a routine physical. And they want a “non-refundable, non-applicable” $500 fee. What that gets you is sort of adjunct membership: you are on the wait list, you get the house email newsletter, and you can attend any of the concerts and such they schedule. I think it will be worth the money to be on the wait list whether I go with Channing or not — which is still an open question.



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