If anyone can produce books at a faster pace than Winston Churchill, it's Tom Kelly.
The reasons, however, are much different. Sir Winston wrote rapidly during the 1930s to pay off his creditors.
Kelly, on the other hand, is trying to keep up with housing and finance trends that change faster than the weather, and that's the reason for Real Estate for Boomers and Beyond (Kaplan Publishing, $19.95).
Kelly's New Reverse Mortgage Formula went a long way to clear up the confusion about how that relatively new method of financing works. He tries to do the same for the boomer housing market. It's refreshing to see someone writing a real estate book with universal appeal, instead offering another way to circumvent the bubble or make a million every day with no money down, even while they are asleep.
The problem: An American turns 50 every seven seconds. Since there is no legal way to stop that from happening, Kelly's job is to make aging, and the move to the next house along the route to retirement and beyond, filled with fewer potholes.
For those who write regularly about boomers and their needs, some of what Kelly covers might be considered old hat. What Kelly recognizes, however, is that his readers will likely be looking at what he's written for the first time, and needs to be addressed again and again, in the same way that I can never write just one column on how to get rid of private mortgage insurance or tankless heaters.
The point he's making is that when entering the active-adult-call-it-what-you-want market, you cannot use many of tools you used when you bought your first house, or anything other during your 20s, 30s and 40s.
Many people in this age bracket are likely getting back into the real estate market for the first time in 20 or 30 years, and are shocked that things have gotten more expensive, even after they've recovered from learning how much their current house is worth.
How do you choose the rest of your life wisely? One thing you do is not make decisions in a hurry. There is no need to move fast. In fact, real estate agents who focus on this market tell me that their clients often take five years to decide on whether to move at all, let alone where to go or what to buy.
Too often, those decisions are based on, if not the wrong reasons, then certainly not the right ones.
To attract alumni and, of course, their continuing financial support, for example, many colleges and universities are building active-adult housing near campus. While that may be the right choice for some people, too often it is done in a belief that by doing so, you can recapture something of your youth.
The chances are when you get there, you won't find what you thought you would, or, as Kelly puts it, "your lifelong basketball buddy may be an entirely different person after he has blown out a knee" and isn't going to join you on your morning bicycle rides.
Since both college and grad schools were both in cold, snowy climates, my choice would be a warmer climate, but that would depend on what my wife wanted and how close my sons would be to me. The fact that the Sun Belt was not the ultimate retirement answer led Pulte's Del Webb division to begin building outside Chicago and Philadelphia, and successfully so, while not cutting back from sunnier spots.
Boomers need a choice, and the goal, says Kelly, is to "safeguard the ultimate asset." Real estate is the only investment that seems to be offering a consistent return on our investment.
The choices of what and where to buy are enormous, and increasing daily. Trends change just as rapidly, and Kelly emphasizes that you have to watch the market carefully so that you don't buy something that might be old hat tomorrow.
Five years ago, every developer and demographer claimed that boomers were interested in downsizing, but that was a definite misreading of the market. These buyers don't want to give up space; they want to change that space to meet present and future needs. Houses are getting larger, to accommodate entertaining, grandchildren, new life focuses and a lifetime of memories.
Fewer of these buyers are focusing on whether their new home has a golf course and more on how close the medical or assisted care facilities are in case something happens to one or both spouses.
Kelly's book tackles all of this and more, including financing (he does bring his reverse mortgage expertise to the book), buying a second home, caring for older parents, tax rules and whether or not you should move at all but try to age in place.
It's an excellent addition to your real estate library.