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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Portsmouth, NH First Time Homebuyer Program

Are you a Portsmouth, NH first time homebuyer?  Would you like to be a Portsmouth, NH first time homebuyer?

Home ownership has long been a cornerstone of the American Dream, and can create opportunities to build equity and achieve greater financial security. Some may assume that, due to the recent economic uncertainty, few people – particularly younger generations – still aspire to homeownership. However, the vast majority of people across all generations say homeownership is a priority. (source: Merrill Lynch Retirement Survey )

Not sure if you can afford to buy a home?  Regardless of what state you live in there is probably a HUD approved organization that offers first time homebuyer training which in itself could help qualify you for various financial assistance programs that may be available to help get you into your first home.

Just yesterday for example,  I received a letter from David Moore, the Assistant City Manager for Special Projects/Community Development Director for the City of Portsmouth, reminding me that the city has valuable resources available for citizens.   For example.  A program called HomeTown.

What is HomeTown?

 Home Town is a program designed to make  financial assistance available to individuals and families who wish to purchase a home in Portsmouth, NH.  The program brings together the resources of the City of Portsmouth and Citizens Bank to help eligible individuals and families overcome the financial barriers to home ownership.  The program is administered by the Portsmouth Community Development Department*  in partnership with Citizens Bank.

What assistance is available?

Click Here for Full Details
  • First mortgage financing at a low fixed rate for a 30-year term.
  • Down payment assistance in the form of a 0% interest loan secured by a mortgage on the property. Loan repayment will be deferred for 10 years.
  • Additional down payment assistance in the form of a "sleeper" loan secured by a mortgage on the property. Loan repayment is required upon the sale or transfer of the home or if the customer fails to maintain the home as their primary residence.

Who is eligible to apply? 

 You are eligible to apply to this program if you:

  • Want to purchase a home in Portsmouth, NH
  •  Are a first time home buyer (or haven't owned a home in the last 3 years)
  • Earn within the eligible income guidelines**(see below) and
  • Are a resident of Portsmouth and have lived here at least 2 years, or have, in the past, resided in Portsmouth for at least 10 years and currently live within 30 miles of Portsmouth, or are a permanent, full-time City of Portsmouth employee.
  • Have completed an approved Home buyer training*** (see list of approved providers below)

**Household Size Maximum Eligible Income
One Person $72,324
Two Person $82,656
Three Person $92,988
Four Person $103,320
** Based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Income Guidelines.03/06/2015. Subject to change annually.

***Eligible home buyers must complete home buyer training through an approved organization such as: 
 The Housing Partnership (603) 766-3129  Education Link Click Here
New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (800) 649-0470 - Upcoming Events Click Here
York County Community Action (207) 324-5762  - Education Link Click Here

For full details on this program please visit the city of Portsmouth website at www.cityofportsmouth.com then look under the Community Development section of the site (click here ) for link to the Home Town Guidelines.

What is home buyer training?

Buying a home requires knowledge about housing finance, realtors, home inspections, insurance,
maintenance, and budgeting. Homebuyer education training programs that address these areas will
fulfill the HomeTown homebuyer education requirement.

Training programs offered by agencies listed above meet the HomeTown homebuyer training
requirement. You can learn about training program schedules and locations by calling the numbers
above or linking to their website and requesting information about their homebuyer education training program.

Weichert Realtors Points East Yankee Trader - believes 100% in Buyer Consultations -Regardless of whether you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned pro, owning a home is something many people continue to want for themselves and/or for their loved ones.  Having an experienced professional at your side and knowing who to talk to and where to turn for advice is half the battle.  At Weichert Realtors Points East Yankee Trader, we encourage our customers and clients to participate in our one-on-one Buyer Consultation meetings to understand the many steps involved in the buying and selling process.  Should you choose to apply for a program such as Home Town we would be happy to assist you in the process of finding the right home and walking you through the process towards a successful closing on YOUR new home.

*The Community Development Department is funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program.

The Home Town Program information for the City of Portsmouth is being posted as a community service for those individuals who may wish to find out more about what the City has to offer.  

Debbie Mae Kershaw - Realtor

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Maine Home Sales 2nd Quarter

 when open click on a town
As part of my services to all of my customers and clients (including fellow Weichert Colleagues) every quarter I review the markets in which we serve to give us a more in-depth look at what the trends are.  I review Single Family Home Sales - and on an as needed bases I will review other categories (i.e. Condo, Land, Multi-Family, Mfg Housing).  Both the National Association of Realtors and the Maine Association of Realtors report market activity on a larger basis (by State/County).

As a coastal Real Estate Brokerage firm we serve the Southern most areas of Maine, all of coastal New Hampshire and the Northern most coastal areas of MA.  We monitor and evaluate market trends for those communities in which we serve in order to better serve you- Our clients and Customers.  Check out the latest Sales activity for the MAINE boarder towns below.

Inventory remains light, Buyer demand still strong, and while interest rate have ticked up slightly still remain attractive.  Both the average sale price and median sale price increased over same time last year and in most cases over Q1 2015. Days on market average 99 days in these markets (some higher some lower).

These 1 page Summary Market Reports include the Following and may be viewed and printed by visiting the town below. Information Includes:

The Number of Sales for that Quarter
The Average List Price Of Homes Sold
The Average Sale Price of Homes Sold
Days On Market - From Original List Date to Date it Went Under Contract
List To Sale Ratio - Comparing what it was Listed at and what it actually Sold for.
Median List and Median Sale Price (some people prefer to look at the median so I have included it).

This chart compares the Average Sale Price to the Median Sale price
across all 7 towns  (Average is the value obtained by dividing the sum of the prices by the total number of sales - Median is the middle value of the set when they are ordered in ascending order.)


Printable 1 Page Summary by Town  

Berwick, ME   (ASP) $205,000 (MSP) $196,000
Eliot, ME (ASP) $307,000 (MSP) $291,000
Kittery, ME (ASP) $415,000  (MSP) $323,000
Ogunquit, ME (ASP) $661,000 (MSP) $601,000
South Berwick, ME (ASP) $279,000 (MSP) $263,000
Wells, ME (ASP) $334,000 (MSP) $286,000
York, ME (ASP) $455,000  (MSP) $358,000

According to the Maine Association of Realtors The median Sale Price for all of York County in Q2 was $231,500, so as you can see the boarder towns (to New Hampshire) are in higher demand.  Combine this with low inventory and Buyers should be prepared to make their best offer, since the seller or their agent are not required to notify them of the existence of other offers. If a home is in a highly desirable location, well presented and priced at the market, there are often multiple buyers competing for the property.

When you or someone you know is ready to buy or sell, it is important to enlist the services of a highly-skilled Realtor to assist you in uncovering the market dynamics of your neighborhood and thus ensuring a successful transaction.





Debbie Mae Kershaw - Realtor

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

19th Century Baseball In Portsmouth, NH

19th Century Baseball as played in 1864 Comes to Portsmouth, NH August 15th.  

 Mark your Calendars and come to Portsmouth, August 15th. 

 

The Portsmouth Athenaeum will again join with Essex Base Ball Association to bring Vintage Baseball to Portsmouth. 

 On Saturday, August 15, 2015, at historic Leary Field in downtown Portsmouth.

 The Portsmouth Rockinghams will host the Kearsarge Base Ball Club in a double-header.


 The Rockingham Club is a member of the Essex Baseball Association, an association dedicated to presenting baseball as it was played in its formative years.  

 Both teams are named after actual teams that played in New Hampshire in the 1860s.  The Rockinghams played out of Portsmouth.  Kearsarge BBC was based in Concord.  The teams play in period uniforms and utilize 1864 rules.


 The games played on August 15th are a much delayed (149 years) rematch of a home-&-home series played in September 1866 between the original Rockinghams and Kearsarges in which the later swept the series by scores of 31-26 and 32-19.  Consistent with the custom at the time, Kearsarge BBC  hosted a banquet for the visiting team in Concord following game two, at which former president, Franklin Pierce, praised the players for their spirited play and extolled the virtues of base ball in building a sound mind in a sound body.


 The double-header will start at 12:00 noon.  It will be preceded by a children’s demonstration and an explanation of the 1864 rules at 11:30 am.   

Vintage baseball, or as purists refer to it, 19th century base ball, is a fast-paced, high scoring game guaranteed to be fun for the whole family.
 
The above blog post is courtesy of : Drummond Woodsum -Thomas R. Watson, Attorney
100 International Drive, Suite 340, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 03801 -800.727.1941 | 603.433.5384 Fax | dwmlaw.com


Interesting Links from Essex Baseball Association
 
Just another reason why I love the  Seacoast of New Hampshire-Debbie Mae
 


Debbie Mae Kershaw - Realtor

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Don't Panic Portsmouth, NH - It's Only A Drill

DON'T PANIC PORTSMOUTH,NH 

IT'S ONLY A DRILL

If you are downtown Portsmouth, NH tomorrow - Friday July 24th 2015, you may encounter sounds that would alarm an otherwise unknowing citizen.

This is is JUST A DRILL 

and nothing to be worried about.  

The following was posted in the Portsmouth Herald Newspaper and/or Seacoastonline.com  with regard to tomorrow's training exercises. 

By Press Release
On Friday, July 24th, 2015, the region’s first responders will participate in a large-scale regional training exercise designed to test the critical skills and protocols that would be used responding to a high-level critical incident. SWAT, Fire, EMS, and municipal police will have the opportunity to respond and train.
The Department of Homeland Security has gone to great lengths to design an event that incorporates almost all the necessary personnel and equipment needed to secure a successful outcome for such an incident. This means people in some Portsmouth neighborhoods and downtown areas will hear loud noises during the course of the exercise. The areas specifically affected will be the in-town neighborhoods around the high school and the middle school. These residents will also be receiving a Reverse 911 call reminder on Thursday, the 21st.
The noises and activity connected to the training are no cause for alarm. They are part of the training. Additionally, people will see uniformed officers with training weapons, and emergency response vehicles and equipment, which are also part of the exercise. Please do not call “911” or Portsmouth Dispatch in response to the training. 

The event is a scheduled and controlled training incident and is planned to run from about 9:00 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m. The Portsmouth Public Library will be open during the training period; no fines will be assessed for the day. The Portsmouth Pool will also be open.
The “Praetorian 724” exercise will afford the region’s first responders a unique opportunity to train to be able to best protect the residents of the Seacoast.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Maine Open Farm Day July 26th

www.GetRealMaine.com

Maine Open Farm Day -Sunday, July 26th 

A Maine tradition, farms will open their gates to the public this Sunday July 26th

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who help produce their food. Farms throughout Maine will open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, farm-raised products for sale and animals and crops to experience. 

All across the State of Maine, close to 100 family farms will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Held each year, Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine food producers and for farms to show the public their products.

From Governor Paul La Page "On behalf of Maine citizens, I thank our farmers and producers for their work bringing fresh and natural products to our tables every day," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture. The number of Maine farms is on the rise and so is the market value of our agricultural products. Since the last Census of Agriculture, the market value of Maine's agricultural products has increased 24%. At a time when the number of farms in the United States is declining, the number of Maine farms has increased to 8,174, up from 7,196 in 2002. This growth coincides with renewed consumer interest in locally grown foods." Read More

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Seacoast, New Hampshire - Home Sales Report 2nd Quarter

19 Seacoast New Hampshire Towns.

Sales Data for 

2nd Quarter 

April 1-June 30 2015  Home Sales -Q2-2015

 Click On A Town Below To Review The Report


 The numbers are in - We've just tallied up sales for the Q2-2015 in 19 Seacoast NH Towns.  Beginning Q2 we now include break out information for Hampton Beach and Seabrook Beach as the beach areas tend to be hyper-local with their own market dynamics.

Inventory of available housing remains low and buyer demand remains high. While most towns saw an increase in the average sale price compared to this time last year, several saw a slight decrease in average sale price.

Marketing time for a Single Family home averages 81 days (for the towns reviewed) with some areas seeing multiple offers within days of going on the market.

Whether you are just now starting to look for a home, or perhaps getting ready to prepare your home for selling, give us a call and we will be happy to walk you through the market dynamics currently taking place in your neighborhood.

If you would like to view the individual town reports click on a town below jump on over to our  community page and select a town. 
Print View Print Flyer

At Weichert Realtors-Points East Yankee Trader, we continually review and analyze the sales information for the towns in which we serve. We strive to know the communities where you live, work and play.  This is our core business and, knowing what is going on in the local markets, helps us help you.   Real estate is local, and so are we.

For a more detailed and comprehensive review 
of your home's value call us for a 
Complimentary  Price Trend Analysis.

Time Period  April 1 - June 30, 2015 (and April 1 - June 30, 2014)
Property types included: Single Family Residential and Condominiums which are reported separately. NOT included in these analysis: Mfg Homes, Multi-Family, Commercial or land

Source: Market Trend Data is Sourced from: Northern New England Real Estate Network and is provided by an individual user of NNEREN. NNEREN has not reviewed the contents and do not make any representations, warranties or guarantees regarding the accuracy, timelines or completeness of any statistical information and data provided. Subject to Errors &/or Ommissions

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Balloons, Turtles and Flags

When I woke up yesterday morning it never occurred to me that I would be researching Balloons and Turtles instead of Sales Figures for the local housing market.

But when I finally settled in at my desk ready to finish up my Q2 Home Sales Report for the NH Seacoast, the phone rang.  On the other end of the line was a soft-spoken woman who sounded almost apologetic for interrupting my day.  She introduced herself as Jean Northrup of Hampton.  
Not Hampton, New Hampshire, but,
Hampton, New Brunswick, CANADA.  

She wanted to let me know that a Weichert Realtors Yellow Balloon had landed in her pasture.  

I found this interesting as our office is over 372 miles away. And in our office we don't use balloons. Could it be this balloon came from New York or elsewhere?  But, where the balloon came from really isn't the point of this post. Or Is It?

She told me that she didn't want to come off as a (I can't remember her exact words,  but I think it was something like a) "tree hugger".  Rather, she wanted to ask for my help. She lives about 20 miles inland from the Bay of Fundy and there is marsh land all around her. Recently the Painted Turtle has shown up.  She wrote in a subsequent email to me that "...The turtles in our marsh are just painted turtles but we were excited to learn that they had never been known to breed anywhere in New Brunswick other than around a large lake (Grand Lake) 50 miles north of here."   

I saw where our conversation was going and I was intrigued.

The Painted Turtle
Jean is a member of the environmental committee in her town and she is very aware and concerned about the marine life (and all animal life for that matter.) She wanted me to know that Turtles and other wildlife die from ingestion of foreign debris like plastic and balloons which the wildlife thinks is food.

Seeing a balloon with a name on it, and to then trace that name and make a phone call to share her concern, was in my opinion a great move. I learned a couple of things and hopefully this post will help create more awareness.

The thought that using a Balloon at an Open House might cause harm to something hundreds of miles away had never entered my mind before.  But the potential evidence was staring me in the face.  Here was a balloon in fairly good condition that had traveled at least 372 miles to land in Jeans pasture.  Who knows how long it had been drifting.  In reading a couple of articles I thought balloons were more likely to disintegrate at high altitude, but apparently that's not always the case.  As even though latex is biodegradable, the processing it goes through makes it no longer biodegradable (see below).   The result - right there in Jean's pasture. And fortunately Jean found it before it ended up in the marsh.


I did feel somewhat relieved as in our office we DON'T use balloons, we use flags.  Flags are easier to use, they are reusable and they don't drift away.  Even still, I told Jean that I would share this in an effort to help spread the word - that using Balloons filled with Helium while bright and attractive can be potentially dangerous and to use safer and more creative methods of attracting attention (see links below) - For Open Houses consider using flags like our office does.  

At the end of the day unless you dispose of Helium filled balloons versus letting them go (for any reason not just an open house), you really have no idea where that balloon is going to end up - In someones pasture or in the intestines of an innocent turtle. 


By the way after our call I started looking up some information that I will pass along here one of which was an article titled "The Effect of Balloons on the Environment,"  published in the NY Times NY/Region in 1990 the author says "...It is estimated by the Entanglement Network that over 100,000 marine mammals die each year from plastic entanglement or ingestion. A study performed in the Gulf of Mexico by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute concluded that 5 percent of the dead sea turtles had ingested latex (balloons). Although latex, in its natural state, is extremely biodegradable, in its processed commercial state latex is not biodegradable at all. Ordinary latex balloons will not start to degrade for about five months in the ocean, and shiny Mylar balloons last for years..."


For more information on the topic of Balloons and Turtles:
Plastics-at-Sea Catastrophe -http://www.conserveturtles.org/velador.php?page=velart88How Balloons are made - https://youtu.be/PJQecDCS1aI
Eastern Painted Turtle - http://novascotia.ca/museum/amphibians/en/turtles/painted.asp

Friday, June 26, 2015

Selling Empty Homes

Image Courtesy of Julea

Selling Empty Homes, Do they sell?

Yes Empty Homes Sell.

But without being prepared (which includes staging), the bigger question is WHEN will it sell and for WHAT PRICE?

In a very hot market like Portsmouth, NH it may not matter if a home is empty or staged. If it's within walking distance (like a couple of blocks) to the center of town, chances are good that prospective buyers are influenced more by the location than whether the home is empty or not. On the other hand, properly preparing a home even in a hot market (especially with competitive listings), is going to improve the potential of selling quickly and for the terms and conditions one is looking for.

Of course there are many other variables that influence how quickly a home will sell and at what price that one needs to consider.

Everyone will offer an opinion and mine is to listen to the suggestions presented by your professional REALTOR® when it comes to preparing and staging your home to sell (which by the way is only part of the process). 

I can write until my fingers are numb about the benefits of staging, but rather than go into all the reasons a homeowner should stage their home, I came across a great blog post today that demonstrates the benefits of staging "visually." Here are some other tidbits from that post.
#1. An empty home leaves an empty canvas to paint negative thoughts on. Prospective buyers will find imperfections or they’ll not be interested or overlook features. An empty home amplifies negative thoughts.

#2. Empty homes lack a vision of its layout. What is this room? A staged home shows off how the home flows and how each space can be used...

...Check out the original post to see some compelling before and after images.

Home Staging Works!

Portions of this post were reprinted with the original authors permission - For the full blog post go to http://www.julea.com/home-staging-interior-styling-blog/2015/4/7/why-empty-homes-dont-sell.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Understanding What A Reverse Mortgage IS and ISN'T

Don’t be misled by reverse mortgage advertising - 
Today the CFPB is issuing an advisory warning older Americans to watch out for misleading or confusing reverse mortgage advertisements. The advisory highlights facts that consumers should keep in mind when seeing the ads: 
  • A reverse mortgage is a home loan, not a government benefit: Consumers need to know that reverse mortgages have fees and compounding interest that must be repaid, just like other home loans. 
  • Reverse mortgage ads don’t always tell the whole story: Reverse mortgage ads don’t always tell the whole story, such as that a consumer can lose ownership of their home. 
  • Without a good plan, a consumer could outlive the loan money:Consumers should have a financial plan in place that accounts for a long life. That way, if a consumer needs to tap into their home equity, they won’t do it too early and risk running out of retirement resources later in life. 
If you have a family member or friend that is considering a Reverse Mortgage Please share this information with them.  A Consumer Guide to Reverse Mortgage may be found here.

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released results of a focus group study on reverse mortgage advertisements that found many participants were left with misimpressions about the product. After viewing the ads, consumers were confused about reverse mortgages being loans, and they were left with false impressions that they are a government benefit or that they would ensure consumers could stay in their homes for the rest of their lives. Today, the CFPB is also issuing an advisory that warns consumers that many reverse mortgage ads do not tell the full story.  
“As older consumers consider reverse mortgage loans to tap into their home equity, they need to be careful of those late night TV ads that seem too good to be true,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “It is important that advertisements do not downplay the terms and risks of reverse mortgages or confuse prospective borrowers.” 
A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that allows older homeowners to access the equity they have built up in their homes and defer payment of the loan until they pass away, sell, or move out. The loan proceeds are generally provided to the borrowers as lump-sum payments, monthly payments, or as lines of credit. The reverse mortgage market is about 1 percent of the size of the traditional mortgage market, with 628,000 outstanding loans, according to industry reports. Most reverse mortgages today are federally insured through the Federal Housing Authority’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program, which carry some regulatory requirements. 
The number of reverse mortgage originations is likely to increase in upcoming years with the retirement of the “baby boom” generation, which has more home equity than retirement savings. Studies have estimated that among Americans nearing retirement, 41 percent have no retirement savings account. But a majority of them, about 74 percent, own their homes and have built up good equity. The most common ways for consumers to access this home equity is to refinance their original mortgage, take out a home equity loan or line of credit, sell the home and downsize, or obtain a reverse mortgage.  
Today’s CFPB study is based on 97 unique ads found on TV, radio, in print, and on the Internet. The CFPB interviewed about 60 homeowners age 62 and older in focus groups and in one-on-one interviews in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The study found that many of the ads were incomplete and/or contained inaccurate information. While advertisements frequently do not describe all the details of the particular product or service being sold, the incompleteness of reverse mortgage ads raises heightened concerns because reverse mortgages are complicated and often expensive loans intended for older, and frequently vulnerable, homeowners. The study found that the ads were characterized by: 
  • Ambiguity that reverse mortgages are loans: Some consumers found it difficult to understand from the ads that reverse mortgages are loans with fees and compounding interest; that the loans need to be repaid. Most ads either did not include interest rates or included interest rates in fine print. Other consumers thought that because the money they received through a reverse mortgage represented home equity they had accrued over time, there was no reason they would have to pay it back. 
  • False impressions about government affiliation: The advertisements left some older homeowners with the false impression that reverse mortgages are a risk-free government benefit, and not a loan. The study found that consumers often misinterpret the role of the federal government in the reverse mortgage market as providing consumer protections that are not actually offered. 
  • Difficult-to-read fine print: The study found that some consumers did not pick up on key aspects of the loan because the loan requirements were often buried in the fine print if they were even mentioned at all. Many reverse mortgage ads reviewed did not, for example, mention helpful information like interest rates, repayment terms, and other requirements. 
  • Celebrity endorsements that imply reliability and trust: Many ads featured celebrity spokespeople discussing the benefits of reverse mortgages without mentioning the risks. Most consumers recalled TV ads that featured spokespeople portrayed as reliable and trustworthy. One consumer in one focus group said, “When it’s a former Congressman endorsing it, it makes it sound like a good idea.” 
  • False impressions about financial security and staying in the home for the rest of the consumer’s life: The study found that many ads implied financial security for the rest of a consumer’s life. But a reverse mortgage does not guarantee financial security no matter how long a consumer lives. A consumer can tap into their equity too early and run out of funds to draw on. In addition, borrowers with a reverse mortgage are still responsible for paying property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and property maintenance. Failing to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that results in foreclosure. Most of the advertisements reviewed failed to mention such requirements. 
Incomplete or inaccurate statements made in advertisements about reverse mortgages can pose serious risks to older Americans. Without more balanced information, consumers may not make the right financial choice and jeopardize their retirement security. This means they could run out of money for their day-to-day expenses or even lose their homes. 

The Bureau has questions and answers about reverse mortgages at Ask CFPB. The Bureau also has developed a  consumer guide for older Americans with key facts on reverse mortgages. Consumers can submit a complaint with the CFPB about reverse mortgages online at www.consumerfinance.gov, by phone at 1-855-411-CFPB or TTY/TDD (855) 729- 2372, or by mail. 
More information for older Americans and their caregivers about making financial decisions, protecting assets, preventing financial exploitation, and planning for long-term financial security can be found at: consumerfinance.gov/older-americans/ 
###

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.