Episode 122: A Heart for Seniors: Annie Baker’s Journey in Real Estate and Advocacy

Lynn Toomey (00:00):

Hello and welcome to the Her Retirement Podcast. I’m your host, Lynn Toomey. And here in my podcast each week I talk about how to live a better, more intentional and financially secure life now and in retirement. Whether you’re single, suddenly single or partnered up woman, your only short investment is an investment in yourself and financial wellness. Also known as financial security isn’t just a dream, it’s a decision. And when you decide to make a commitment to yourself and change your financial destiny, our fresh modern platform will help you know more and have more now and in retirement. Welcome to her retirement. Welcome to My Know More, have more financial wellness platform, and welcome to my podcast. Are you ready to get her done? Let’s do this.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Her Retirement Podcast. This week I have the pleasure of speaking with Annie Baker, and Annie has a very interesting take on retirement in an interesting lane that she operates in, and I thought it was so unique that I said I need to have this woman on my podcast to talk about this. So without further ado, welcome Annie.

Annie Baker (01:32):

Hi, Lynn. Thanks for having me.

Lynn Toomey (01:34):

Yeah, you’re coming all the way from sunny California on our podcast today.

Annie Baker (01:40):

Yeah, beautiful day here.

Lynn Toomey (01:42):

Yeah, it’s sunny in Massachusetts, but it looks like it’s going to be rainy later this week. So we’re in that, it’s supposed to be like April showers May flowers, but I think we’re like May showers, June flowers,

Annie Baker (01:54):

June flowers. Yeah, it does seem like weather patterns are kind of getting pushed back a little bit. Even for us, we’ve kind of had a lot of cooler weather than normal, and we just had our first warm weekend of eighties, but then I looked next weekend is supposed to go back to seventies.

Lynn Toomey (02:11):

Yeah, yeah. Well, anyway, so welcome and I’m really glad we could make this work today and chat. So tell my audience your official title and what you do.

Annie Baker (02:24):

Sure. So I’m a realtor. Most people know what realtors do, but I’m a little bit different in that I pretty much only work with seniors that are downsizing. So typically they’re retiring. A lot of them will retire and move out of the area out of California a lot of times to go be closer to family or they’ve really aged in place for a long time and it’s now time to move into a assisted living, independent community, something like that. And then I also sell inherited properties, so I’m definitely dealing with the older population. A lot of times my clients, if I have siblings that have inherited a property, the money that they’re going to get out of their house is really their retirement plan. So it’s super interesting and I love my little demographic because I just really feel like it’s, first of all, it’s such a privilege when I’m selling an inherited property because it’s the legacy of their parents typically. Occasionally I’ve done, it was an uncle that passed and didn’t have kids, so he’s leaving it to a niece and nephew or something, but usually it’s the parents. So it’s really emotional. And when seniors, sometimes when they’re downsizing and retiring, they’re super excited. So it’s easier, but more often than not, I’m dealing with the people that are moving into sometimes with family, but into the community, they need more help. So it is super emotional.

Lynn Toomey (03:55):

Do you have to get extra help getting them to leave?

Annie Baker (03:59):

Yeah, so I actually think I mentioned to you, I have this book, it’s called Next Chapter Real Estate, and it’s a book of all the things I’ve learned. So I’ve been specializing in this niche. I’ve been in real estate, gosh, 20 years now, but I’ve been really specializing in this niche for around 10. And there were so many things that would come up in these sales that were not really common for traditional real estate sales. So there are so many resources that help this demographic from a senior placement advisor. I essentially say that’s like a buyer’s realtor, except they’re helping them find the right independent assisted living community kind of senior community. So they literally will drive the family members around and show them different communities and they know all the ins and outs and that their fee is paid by the community where they end up getting placed.


It’s essentially a marketing fee for the community. So it’s a free resource for families. So I hear so many adult children like, oh my gosh, I can’t get my parents to go even look at communities. And then I always bring up the topic like, Hey, why don’t we call my, I have a couple people that do senior placement advising. They meet with them and it’s a totally different relationship because parents don’t want to be really advised by their children, especially the older they get. They really have such a fear of losing their independence and they feel like their adult children are now telling them what to do. And it’s a really complicated dynamic. So like I talked about in my book, get resources outside of just the family because it can really change things. I’ve heard of people getting written out of the will during that time when it’s gotten really ugly because parents are just angry and they don’t want to be told what to do.


But if it’s a separate person, there’s also senior move managers and they’re very specific movers that only deal with this demographic, whether it’s helping the senior downsize or an inherited property that has a house full of belongings, they can help with so much. My first client, actually, this is how I even got into this niche. It was back in 2010, I was referred an 82-year-old woman named Lillian. She was leaving her custom built 4,000 square foot home. She had lived in over 40 years and she was moving to 450 square feet, this little room, and she was still healthy and able to take care of herself, but she wanted to be in a community to have more social activities. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is going to be so emotional. And I kind of didn’t know what to do. And that’s where I found a senior move manager, and it was like I didn’t even know they existed.


And they literally did. They got the floor plan of her new space, they walked around the house and what are your very favorite things? And on the day of the move, they spent days and lots of time with her getting rid of furniture and whatnot, but figuring out what her favorite things were and the day of the move, they said, okay, Lillian, you have to be out of your house by eight in the morning and then meet us at your new place at five. And I didn’t go that night at five, but I went about three days later to just see how she was doing, and it was a miniature replica of her house, and she was so happy they even knew what her chair, chair she liked to watch TV in and which side she liked her remote controls on. So she said when she walked in, it was exactly like then all her figurines. So it was amazing. And they’re not as expensive as most people would think. So there are just so many resources for people like this. And then the inherited property sales, it’s a whole different animal, but they know how to help with all of that and estate sale people. And there’s online estate sale companies now that have become really big that I really like. And so I’m helping people with that phase of life. And a lot of that money that they get if they’re inheriting it, is really their retirement.

Lynn Toomey (08:10):

So are the resources in your book specific to California, or would you say they’re the type of resources and then you look for them locally?

Annie Baker (08:18):

Exactly. So it’s not specific to California. I do have a chapter about all the legal documents, making sure that family house is in a living trust. That’s so key. I don’t know if you talked to your clients about that, but that helps people avoid probate, and that is across the board, having some kind of trust might be called something that’s slightly different. I mean, it’s always called a trust, but people might refer to a few things that are different. But I talk about the living trust, having a medical healthcare directive, having a power of attorney, having a will. A lot of people think if they have their will done, that’s fine in the will. They state the house goes to the kids and it won’t protect you. Then you have to go through probate. And probate is a legal process that costs thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.


And it’s great if it’s a complicated passing of assets, but when everyone’s on the same page and the kids are all splitting it to go through probate is just a nightmare. It takes between one and four years and upwards of 50 less thousand dollars, and it’s just super sad. So get the Living trust people. But yeah, so my book is really geared for everyone. It’s on Amazon, it’s an Amazon bestseller, so people say it’s a really easy quick read. I try to really simplify everything, but just kind of have all those resources for people and things like watching out for your parents and if they’re still living in their house, like removing area rugs. It’s huge tripping hazard for seniors. A lot of times they trip and then break their hip or something, things like that. So yeah, I talk about all of that. And then my other workbook I have, I actually have four different covers or titles I started out, which it is called Next Chapter Planner, and I kind of did a feminine cover and a masculine cover, and it’s all the practical things you need to be able to pass information on to loved ones, like passwords to your online banking or that also what bills are on autopay.


I’ve had people come to me and they’ve told me that their parents’ car insurance was on autopay, and for six months no one told them. They had no idea, they hadn’t really looked at the assets and the banking. They were still emotionally too overwhelmed and here all those months were getting paid and their parents weren’t alive. So things like that.

Lynn Toomey (10:50):

That happened to my mom. Yeah, that happened. Oh, did it? Yeah, she gave me all her information and I had a list, but I don’t think she specifically had, it was a handwritten list. It was really cute. And that’s what inspired me to do my emergency personal info and emergency planner. I call it net end of life wishes. It’s like a hundred pages, but it was because of what I went through with my mom that I created it and I went to the bank and I was like, wait, why? What is this coming out every month? And it was two things. It was her renter’s insurance and her car insurance,

Annie Baker (11:31):


Lynn Toomey (11:32):

She just forgot to put the renter’s insurance on there. And the car I actually sold, but somehow the Registry of Motor Vehicles didn’t notify the insurance company. I thought that happened automatically. I don’t know, it was like my lack of understanding too. But they ended up crediting me back. They kind of took sympathy on the situation. I mean, it wasn’t a ton of money, but still four or 500 bucks.

Annie Baker (12:00):

Oh, absolutely. And it’s just more like your book. You work by price, a lot of the same things, and it’s just a way, I mean, you’re going to be so overwhelmed when someone passes. So it’s just so helpful to have as much just practical information. And I know some people say, oh my gosh, my parents never want to talk about this, and I’m super comfortable talking about all of it because I don’t have a weird passion about being prepared for end of life. But with my parents, I was always like, I have my list. I just used to have a word document of things that I thought people would need to know. And so I’d always say that to my parents, I could pass before you do. We’re not guaranteed age is going to be the reason you die. So that’s why I always try to say, and I’d bring up the conversation, oh, I got my living trust done and my will. And so it kind of broke that down that, Hey, I’m not pushing you out the door here. That’s the last thing I want, but if you happen to go first, I’m going to be super sad, so please give me as much information so I’m not having to go on a scavenger hunt because it’s going to be overwhelming in this scenario. So

Lynn Toomey (13:11):

Yeah. Yeah, scavenger hunt is a really good way to put it. I was actually kind of a similar conversation with my dad, who’s 87, not forthcoming. My parents were divorced when I was eight, so he’s kind of been off in the distance and he has quite a bit of stuff. And I was like, I don’t know if my brothers know all this stuff. So I was just telling him a story, which was a true story of some clients that we had and they didn’t have a trust. And he’s like, well, I’m not dumb like that. I have a trust for you guys. And I’m like, oh, phew. Finally I got the info and I was like, well, I didn’t think you’d be dumb like that, dad. Then I was like, but somebody needs to know where it is or what the name of your lawyer is because it doesn’t matter if it exists if no one knows where it is. So he then told me where it was.

Annie Baker (14:09):

I’ve actually had, my senior move manager has literally had to help clients find those things through filing cabinets, but we’re not talking about the filing cabinet in the desk in the office. There’ll be filing cabinet from 20 years ago in the garage full of files and it would find something there, or they would find bond certificates and oh, is fascinating, some of the things they’d find. But I was thinking if that were my situation with my parents, I probably would’ve thought, oh, those files are so old and just tossed everything or, oh, let’s get it through the shredder. And I probably wouldn’t have thought to take the time to go through that. I mean, they knew they need to find important documents, but it’s how things can get lost.

Lynn Toomey (14:54):

Well, and the other issue is just the aging brain. That’s why senior scams are so they prey on people aging and not being a hundred percent brain wise. So even if you have a conversation with your parents and say, if your brain starts failing in your memory and do you want to leave this to the probate courts to decide or just guesses, this is just a way to organize and protect what you want to have happen, right?

Annie Baker (15:30):

Oh my gosh. Exactly. Yeah, the elder abuse is just so rampant. It’s terrible. And I do find that things can be great with the parents in their seventies and early eighties. And then, I mean, I’ve heard some real horror stories that people that have inherited the house, but they would say, oh my gosh, the last six months, my parents were almost belligerent with us because they didn’t want us telling them what to do with their money, but they were donating huge sums of money, and they turned out to be, I mean, one, it was a terrorist group and the FBI showed up at that. I mean, it was terrible. I think this one situation I heard was like $600,000 went out the window in the span of one month, but the parents didn’t want anyone to tell them what to do with their money. And so it’s so scary.


So there are things you can do is have durable power of attorney, which you can go and close your parents’ bank account if you thought it was that. It is a fine line. You don’t want to give your adult children too much control unless you really have a trusting relationship. But my brother and I are sort of facing that because we do have all, and we have the durable power of attorney and my parents, we might end up having to put them in a memory care facility, but we’ll have the legal right to do that, but they’re not going to go willingly. We’ll be doing it for their safety. And I hope we don’t get to that point, but I have these conversations with my parents years ago and my mom was like, oh my gosh, no, I trust you guys. And I don’t know if she’ll be glad now, but I said we’re not quite there yet.


But yeah, I just think it’s super important to be prepared for all this stuff. When I do talk about ways to pay for either in-home care or if you are moving to assisted living, but in-home care, one of the great ways, I think you and I talked about this before is doing a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages have such a bad wrap from a lot of people heard some scam years ago, but back in 2014, the whole program was revamped and there are a lot of safety nets in place. So oh my gosh, the day I turned 62, I want to get a reverse mortgage just for peace of mind to know I have access to money. So if I did need any kind of extra care and didn’t have the funds, it’s there. And if you don’t use it, you don’t use it. No harm, no foul. But yeah,

Lynn Toomey (17:59):

Yeah, it could be a lot. It could be depending on the situation. Sometimes it’s a replacement for long-term care insurance. Sometimes it’s a hybrid where you do a little long-term care. It kind of depends on your situation, what you have. You could have


Life insurance with a long-term care rider, but I think with where we are going in the future, the aging of our population, we may end up finding ourselves, our generation aging in place and needing to have people come in because the beds will there be a bed available for our generation, and then the care is a second issue. But I’m like, most people probably want to age in place or would like to. I know when I think about the future, I’m like, well, I want to age in place, but I want to age in place where there’s people, I don’t want to live in the woods. Some people say, well, I want to just live out in the woods by myself, but I don’t want to do that. I want to be around people. I decided that the other day I went on a bike path and it was a beautiful bike path along the ocean and Rhode Island, and there was people and they were walking and rollerblading and biking, and I’m like, I think I like to be around people versus being alone on a bike path in the middle of nowhere. I mean, that has its appeal too. But I was like, no, I think I want to live. I have great neighbors. I moved to this little neighborhood and I didn’t used to be in a neighborhood, but there’s comfort. My neighbors checked on me. My significant other was away. One came and checked on my dog and I told my neighbor their garage was open when they went away on vacation, and we just kind of look out for each other


And we hang out. I

Annie Baker (19:49):

Love that.

Lynn Toomey (19:50):

So I think those connections are really important. So I think one of the things that when my mom, she was ill, but I had her based on a conversation, she was willing, I didn’t force her, but she went to an assisted living facility near the end of her life, and I was like, darn, she would’ve flourished there if she had gone a couple years before, she would’ve loved it. She was a social butterfly and for the couple months she was there, she really liked it. And all the little ladies with their rollators and they had craft and dancing, and it was a very active community. And I don’t think it’s for this age, but I’m like someday having those like-minded people and connections I think are important.

Annie Baker (20:40):

And I think there’s a lot of stats I talked about a little bit in my book about that, that the sense of community can actually keep people thriving in their extra golden golden years because they are so social. And I have a little dog that I do emotional support therapy and we go to assisted living communities and everything, and I’m telling you, I am ready to go. Some of these places are so fun and social. I’m like, I’m going to have no problem saying that. Let’s go, because there’s just so much more to do. And it’s also, well, I’m 56, but when I was 54, I actually bought a house in a 55 and older retirement community because I was like, are you kidding me? This is gorgeous. And we don’t live there yet. We just bought it in a few years when we’re more retired, but they’re so active and so fun, and I still have friends near me that are like, oh God, I’m not old enough for that. I’m like, okay, go to some of these 55 and older communities. It’s going back to college. It’s ridiculous. People are so, there’s so much to do. I’m saying that’s the first phase and then the next phase. But I think most people when they think of an assisted living, especially I think they think more of a nursing, nursing

Lynn Toomey (21:56):


Annie Baker (21:57):

And then especially nursing homes of years ago are super depressing. And that’s more like a rehab, nursing home kind of mentality of like, oh gosh. But some of these other communities, they’re trying to build them as fast as they can, and I don’t know that they’re keeping up with the demand. What is, I think there’s just over 11,000 people a day turning 65 in our country. And I think when I wrote the book, it was like 10,000 a day and it’s ramping up. I think by 2030 we’ll have the highest number of people turning 65 a day, so that part of our population will be over 20%. It’s already over 20%, but I think pushing upwards of 3%. And so they are trying to build a lot of these communities and they’re just making them better and better, a lot of them. But part of it, a lot of times people can’t go because of the cost.


So they do age in place and that’s where the reverse mortgage is better. And I talk about there are a lot of senior daycare centers, which is exactly what it sounds like, just not child daycare center, but for seniors. So people that are aging in place, but they have an opportunity to go be social one day upwards of five days a week depending on what they want or the family wants. And so that’s kind of getting a combo of moving to a community versus just aging in place and it’s more affordable, but you get that social because it really is important, I think for a lot of people

Lynn Toomey (23:24):

Now, there’s a great wealth transfer coming from the baby boomer generation and a lot of that will be real estate. So do you think that the effect of that will be more real estate on the market, or do you think the trend will be less because people are deciding to age in place?

Annie Baker (23:44):

So it is interesting. When I meet my clients the first time, if they were referred to me and they inherited a property, I always start the conversation, is there any way to keep this house in the family because you can’t go buy that house for that price anymore. And except nine out of 10 times. I’m finding though that between the siblings, some have houses that they’ve lived in for years, so they don’t want to move into it, but they want their part of their money out. And if there’s one sibling that has been renting all these years, then they want to move in. They don’t have the, they’re not capable of refinancing it and getting enough of that equity out to pay off the other siblings. So it’s very rare that I see that people keep the homes, which is kind of too bad, but at the same time, each sibling can go and invest that money in another way.


So I’m seeing that there is more of them are being sold, whether that’s really affecting the overall inventory, it’s definitely not affecting it in my neck of the woods that it’s not. We’re seeing a glut of inherited property sales, and they definitely are some people that it is just an only child, or maybe they had a brother or sister who passed away already, maybe they’ll keep the house. I just actually had one like that recently. It was two brothers, but one brother died a couple of years ago, and the other brother, he lived about an hour away, but he had no interest and having a rental property and he had no interest of moving to that community. So he sold it. I mean, I think it was within two months of his mom passing. He was super sad, but he is like, I don’t want this. I don’t want the overhead. I don’t want anything. So I tried to kind of say, it might be a good great investment, give yourself a little time to think about. He was like, Nope.

Lynn Toomey (25:38):

I think I have a best friend that lives in the state of Vermont, and there’s actually quite a few abandoned properties there, because what happens is maybe the parents lived up there, they pass away and the kids are like, I don’t want to go live in Vermont, and it gets tied up in probate or whatever. And it’s kind of sad because they’re like, I don’t want that property.

Annie Baker (26:02):

Well, and I think it also is really affected by the value of the house. So I have a YouTube channel and I talk a lot about siblings going through the process with other siblings. There’s a lot of emotions that come up. I always say it’s even if the siblings are in their sixties or seventies, they revert to being teenagers and Well, mom liked you better. It’s really interesting. And I mean, I love it and I have so much compassion for everyone going through it. So I talk about a lot of those issues on my YouTube channel and whatnot, but I get calls from all across the country from people, oh, I just inherited this property in some tiny little town in Indiana. I say, what’s the value of the house? And it’s like $80,000. So I totally know there are definitely some investors that go after targeting those properties just to get them for 20,000 or something, just because hey, there aren’t very many people looking for those kind of houses. And so they’ll kind of take advantage of them. But I would wonder if some of the property values in Vermont, especially if they’re a little bit more rural, if they’re not as high here in my neck of the woods, I mean, it’s hard to sell shoebox for under 1.5 million, even if it’s a hundred percent original from 60 years ago. It’s like there’s so much money. So we have a different issue with kind of the greed of that.

Lynn Toomey (27:23):

Yeah, money does change people sometimes, sadly.

Annie Baker (27:29):

Yeah, I do see a lot of times one sibling may have moved in with the elderly parents and kind of cared for them the last couple of years of life, and the other siblings who weren’t there day in and day out, literally just see the parents gone, let’s get the house sold, but the one sibling still living in the house, it’s like, wait a second, I’ve been here every day and this is harder on me to have just lost our parent. Give me just a little extra time. And a lot of times siblings are like, no, you’ve been living for free. Get out. We need to sell the house. And it really gets kind of ugly. And for some reason I’m really good at sort of mediating in situations like that, but it can be really heart wrenching because I always feel a lot of compassion for the sibling that cared for the parent. I mean, the stories of changing adult diapers and the memory wandering out of the house, and it’s just really heart wrenching. And the other siblings lose sight of that. And I’m like, do you know how much you just saved them by having to not pay for in-home care? So yeah, you were getting a place to live for free, but it’s a lot of work to care for a really aging parent like that.

Lynn Toomey (28:40):

Yeah, and I think also as, I mean, you’d like to think and believe that your children or people’s children are going to do what’s best for them, but I always think, oh man, what if there’s this greedy kid that wasn’t close to their parent and they’re just, oh, I’ll go live with them and we’re not going to put them in a facility because we want to keep their nest egg intact. So totally, are they really getting the care that they should have? On the other hand, people would say, well, you want to keep ’em home, but I believe in keeping them home if you have the proper care because it’s dementia patient who’s skilled at that. You know what I mean? I don’t know. It’s just,

Annie Baker (29:21):

Oh, absolutely. That’s another form of elder abuse. And it happens too. I mean, it is sad that it can go sideways quickly towards the end if everyone isn’t on the same page.

Lynn Toomey (29:37):

So it sounds like you’re very passionate about what you do. Do you have any plans to retire? Do you have kids?

Annie Baker (29:45):

I do. And my kids are grown and living well, actually one daughter, she lives in Vermont, so it’s funny you said that She played a sport in college back east, so she stayed. Yeah. So I am not one of those people that’s starting to retire, so I kind of have a job that I love, and I’ve added another piece of my business of coaching, other mentoring other realtors across the country to specialize in this niche. So even if I’m not selling the actual properties anymore, I could live from anywhere and mentor other realtors, and I love it. So right now, no real plans, but who knows what I say I’m 56, so maybe when I’m 76, I’ll think about it. No, I don’t know, maybe 66.

Lynn Toomey (30:35):

Yeah, I always say when I get grandchildren, the game might change kind of significantly because I’ll be like, okay, how long do you have to really enjoy? That’s how I was with my kids. I left my corporate career to raise them because I said, I’m not going to get this time back

Annie Baker (30:56):


Lynn Toomey (30:57):

So I’m like, okay, I’m just going to work crazy now with a healthy balance, I guess, but enjoy my kids at this age, but man, when they have kids, I’m going to be hands on.

Annie Baker (31:13):

I love it. Yeah, I do think it also is such a difference if you have to go to a job every morning, have an alarm clock. I have friends that are retiring from Apple or Facebook or whatever. Oh, it’s so great not to have an alarm clock and they’re still up early, but I’m thinking, wow, I haven’t had an alarm clock in years. Not because I sleep half the day, but I usually get up by seven and I can just work from home for a while. And if I have an appointment, I usually plan my appointments in the middle of the day so I don’t have to fight traffic. And so I’m like, I really enjoy my days. I’m not looking to get out. And so I think, well, if I had grandkids, it might be different. They wouldn’t be local. My other daughter’s in Southern California, but so I’d have to take time away, but I do that now, so we’ll see.

Lynn Toomey (32:02):

Yeah, I think this all comes down to having a plan, right? A plan A and a plan B, because life can throw you a curve ball.

Annie Baker (32:13):

Totally, yes.

Lynn Toomey (32:14):

Gray divorce is like three times the rate of other divorces. The average age of a widow’s 59. Oh, is

Annie Baker (32:21):

It really? I’ve not heard that. That’s interesting.

Lynn Toomey (32:24):

Yep. Yeah. I actually had two friends within two years, a year, two years ago actually. They both lost their husbands kind of unexpectedly same friend group, and it was like, dang, that’s really young. These guys weren’t super healthy. They didn’t really take good care of themselves. So it was kind of on them, but still it’s a loss. So one situation, she hasn’t really changed her lifestyle much. The other one completely changed her whole life, and I think you have to have a

Annie Baker (33:06):

Plan. And how so did she move and that,

Lynn Toomey (33:09):

Yeah, I think they always had a plan to downsize their house, but later on they were going to try around the country in an rv, which huge RV that they purchased. So that got sold and she just moved closer to family and just completely different plan. But

Annie Baker (33:29):

Yeah, I definitely, I mean, I am so all about we all, my husband and I are pretty fit and healthy and exercise and eat well, but I’m like, that does not guarantee us anything. So I’m constantly talking like, well, if I’m gone, are you going to do, if you go, what am I? And he does not like to talk about it, so it’s kind of a joke, but I force the issue because who are we kidding? We just don’t know. So I definitely really do think about it where so many people are so afraid to think or have the conversation and that’s why just got to have the conversation.

Lynn Toomey (34:05):

Yeah, it’s a tough one. I actually have a book on, I have a little shop on her retirement website and in there is a book called In Case You Get Hit by a Bus.

Annie Baker (34:14):

Oh, I should read that.

Lynn Toomey (34:16):

Yeah. It’s all that stuff that you don’t really want to talk about, but you should. And so many Americans don’t have a will. Maybe they haven’t figured out the housing plan. I mean, housing costs is your number one cost in retirement. What do you think, as we wrap up here today, what do you think about people paying off their house before retirement? Any opinion about that? I know you’re a realtor, so you’re on the other side of the financing part of it, but what do you think about that? Any opinion?

Annie Baker (34:49):

Yeah, I definitely don’t think it’s smart to have a large mortgage, but I also am not totally convinced that paying it all off is always the best answer. Sometimes having a small mortgage that is very manageable, that is a really small portion of your retirement funds, but it can help with taxes and it can also leave extra money to possibly have a rental property that is, or invest in something that’s generating more income than just having your house paid off. And that’s sort of dead equity in that sense. So I’m kind of a believer in using the equity of your house to keep building your wealth, and maybe it’s not building the wealth so much in retirement, but having some other assets coming in. But I definitely don’t think people should retire and have a huge mortgage, but maybe a thousand dollars a month or less that you’re using money to keep it growing.

Lynn Toomey (35:52):

We touched on reverse mortgage, but also it’s one of the strategies we talk to people about when I meet with women and say, retirement readiness, what do you got? We take an inventory, you have a house. Do you know that you could leverage it? You just need to be aware of all these strategies. It doesn’t mean you need to take advantage of them, but you should be aware of them. But we also talk to people about hecu for purchase, which is the home equity conversion mortgage for purchase. So people could use that strategy as well as the hecu loan.

Annie Baker (36:24):

Exactly. Yeah, I love it. Yeah,


I think that’s really being smart. I have a client right now, we’re about to sell their house and they’re moving to Texas and they’re just adamant, they just want to pay cash for the house. And thinking, I’ve kind of brought up, what if you just mortgaged $80,000 something little just so that you kind of keep your nest egg to do some other things with it because sell money leftover and they are just so adamant we do not want to have to worry about it. So I mean, I don’t push it, it’s choice, but I don’t think they’re totally educated on what they could be doing to keep investing versus just I think they’re just going to keep their money in a savings account. Any left?

Lynn Toomey (37:06):

Yeah. Well just if you run into people that could use a conversation with CFPs, you could refer them to your retirement advisor because we work with people all over the country. That’s the financial advisory practice. I do the coaching on her retirement side, but I co-own the financial advisory practice where we have CFPs that actually get down and dirty and say, okay, what’s your situation? Is it best to purchase outright rent, reverse mortgage? How come for purchase in addition to the investments and the insurance and estate planning and long-term care and social security decisions and all the decisions we have to make.

Annie Baker (37:45):

Oh my gosh, I love it. Love it.

Lynn Toomey (37:47):

We want to help people make the best decisions for their situation and to be prepared for those shocks. I guess that could happen, right? We don’t know.

Annie Baker (37:59):

Oh my gosh. Exactly. And that’s part of it. People just don’t even know who to ask to have a look at the overall picture versus just one aspect. I’m just real estate, so I’m kind of thinking, Hey, maybe you could buy a rental property on this side or take some of that money and go invest it in something else. I don’t have the full picture though. So you get the best resource.

Lynn Toomey (38:23):

Yeah, it’s like you said, you enjoy what you do most days. We enjoy what we do. We have a little bit of flexibility. I just walked my dog before this podcast and I’m like, I can do some more work tonight. This afternoon’s looking really nice out, so I might go play hooky for a little while. But what’s nice as you age and you have a profession that you can do well into those traditional retirement years, it doesn’t sound like you plan to retire. My company’s called her retirement. I’m actually starting a second brand called her second half, which is more focused on creating that life in the second half that may not entail retirement. Retirement can have a negative connotation. And to me, embracing that word almost feels like, well, I’m an old person and I’m like, I don’t want anything to do with that. Even though one of my companies is her retirement. There’s many women that want to leave their corporate world or sell their business or whatever, but they want to keep doing something

Annie Baker (39:30):


Lynn Toomey (39:31):

From anywhere to be

Annie Baker (39:32):

So common now. Yeah,

Lynn Toomey (39:33):

Yeah. Start that business now, I tell people, or that consulting or whatever it is that gives you that location independence where you could go spend a month with your daughter in Vermont and still get your job done, do your consulting, but I think doing the mentoring and consulting with other realtors to focus on this niche is so important. I think I mentioned a friend of mine that’s in the real estate world, and we were on a hike and I told her, I said, you know what? You should really brand yourself as the senior real estate specialist. So I’m going to have her look at your book, watch your YouTube channels, because I think it’s really something she could do to differentiate herself, and I think she’d love it. I think she would love it too.

Annie Baker (40:18):

Yeah, I mean, it’s such a fun niche. I love it. I do not enjoy just working regular buyers work showing property at six o’clock at night, but this, I’ll meet an inherited property sale the siblings at six o’clock any night of the week. I love it.

Lynn Toomey (40:34):

So do you think that this is seeing that our population is aging, I work with women that are trying to figure out like, oh, what should I do? I want to leave the corporate grind. Would you advise getting a real estate license and focusing on senior market and inherited sales?

Annie Baker (40:54):

Yeah, I mean, it is going to be a big part of our population moving forward the next 20 or so years for sure. And you do have to know a little bit extra. There’s a designation for realtors called the SRES, it’s Senior Real Estate Specialist that you can get that designation. I know a lot of realtors are trying, they get it, but you still really don’t know the practical application of a lot of that stuff. And so it’s definitely one of those things. I see regular realtors that will do, I’ll help anyone buy or sell, and now they’re adding the SRE realtor, but they don’t really, they just want to help anybody. And I think they can do a disservice. And I do find that quite a bit, that siblings, if it’s an inherited property, they’re like, oh, my friend from high school is a realtor, and I’m always encouraging them to have other realtors to interview.


I might not be the right personality fit for people. So I’m like, oh, fantastic. So they’ll be like little sheepish. Well, we are interviewing other realtors, and I can’t remember the last time I lost a listing in a situation like that because I come at it from such a different angle than a traditional realtor that has an SRES designation. They kind of don’t really understand the extra dynamics and making everyone feel heard and validated. The sibling that’s living in the house, the other sibling are kind of ganging up, get out of the house. Well, I can pick up on that in a heartbeat where I think other realtors are just like, well, yeah, you need to get out of the house so we can fix it up and sell it. And it’s like, oh my gosh. So little things like that. So if someone wanted to do this and specialize in it, well, first of all, looked at me. I have my mentoring website that I talk a lot about this, but there are other people that will do it. There aren’t many of us, but there are a couple across the country that I’ve run into. But if you’re going to do it, do it well. Don’t just sort of add it to your toolbox because you’re not going to do yourself any favors or your clients any favors.

Lynn Toomey (43:08):

Yeah, I would think also that geographically you probably want to be in an area where there is a lot of turnover, right?

Annie Baker (43:17):

Yeah. I mean, I always say to any realtor, and actually really any person in general, there’s a lot of fear mongering out in the world, whether it’s on the news or just your neighbors, oh my gosh, this is going to, and so that’s a lot in real estate too. Oh, the interest rates are, oh my gosh, all the baby boomers, it’s just going to be a glut of inventory and it’s just this. And people just talk and I sit there and say, turn it all off. Turn it all off. Because there are always going to be people buying and selling, whether there’s a lot of inventory or not enough inventory, whether buyers have to pay 13% interest rate or 4% interest rate. There’s always going to be movement. And if you’re good at what you do, you don’t follow the bell curve of, well, that’s a good business or bad.


It’s like you’re always going to have business, whether it’s the day before Christmas, I’ve had people call me because their parents are getting older and they have to move whatever they need to do something and they need advice. So to follow a trend or listening to the noise of the news, it just doesn’t help anybody. Just be good at what you do and enjoy it, and you’ll do great no matter what. And so a lot of people, I was crazy to say that I was really specialized in this niche and really go to networking events and have people say, well, I have a friend that they’re a first time buyer and can I refer them to you? And I’m like, I’m happy to have a conversation with them, and I know someone else who’s really good at that niche, but that’s not me. So I’ve literally turned away from things I don’t enjoy because what I enjoy, I get good at. And there’s always business.

Lynn Toomey (44:57):

I love that. Now you in a small, what’s your radius? How far around?

Annie Baker (45:02):

I’m in Silicon Valley, so I do go, oh gosh. I had one client, it was like an hour and a half away from here, which I never do, but I had sold her dad’s house locally and years ago it helped her buy her first house, and this was her grandmother’s house, and she was like, Annie, you can do it. And I think that was the furthest I’ve ever gone, but I adore her, and she actually lived in Texas, so I had my contractors fixing up. I would be driving up there not too often, but a little bit. But typically I go about a half hour. So if you think of Google and Facebook, so Palo Alto, mountain View, San Jose parts, the Bay Area. So yeah, I just do my demographic versus my geographic really help the type of clients. So yeah, it’s all the Bay area of San Francisco.

Lynn Toomey (45:57):

Yeah, I remember the area I used to work for three Common Santa Clara, so I spent quite a four years out there.

Annie Baker (46:04):

There you go. Yeah. That’s where I am actually lives in just outside of Boston. And we grew up around this area, but he has lived in Boston for years, and every time he comes back, he’s like, oh my God, let’s just go drive around. He loves to see, oh, there’s Google and there’s YouTube, and you see all these signs so often he just, he’s in the investment world and he just thinks it’s so fun.

Lynn Toomey (46:26):

Do you think people are leaving California? I keep seeing that in the news.

Annie Baker (46:30):

Oh, yeah. There’s always people leaving. They’ll come out with the stats that there are more people leaving than coming. I will say I definitely see more other cultures than just Americans here. And so in the last, I’d say almost 10 years, like 90% of my business is just selling houses. Only time I help buy is if the senior is downsizing and moving locally. But I don’t even know if I can count on one hand having other Americans buy that house. It’s almost always Indians and Chinese. So there’s a lot of that other cultures coming in. And that’s part too, with the inherited properties, a lot of times the adult children have left the area because it’s so expensive. So I’ve sold properties where they’ve never, they haven’t stepped foot in the house in years, and they’re away. But I handle everything here. So when people say, oh, everyone’s leaving, well, there’s a lot of people coming too. So I don’t know what those stats are. I think it’s more like people that have been living in California and they’re leaving, leaving, leaving. There’s more people coming in from other countries.

Lynn Toomey (47:51):

Well, if you’re on the selling end, I guess selling and moving isn’t necessarily a bad thing for you.

Annie Baker (47:57):

Yeah, it happens. Gosh, I know some people that specialize in divorce, and there’s always, unfortunately, people getting divorced and having to sell houses. And so I just always felt like there’s going to be movement. Are there going to be shifts and changes? Of course, things kind of change around, but I really try not to get caught up in the stats because I’m dealing with people and I need to know numbers and what’s going on with interest rates and what’s going on with the other housing prices. But really my job is to get them the most I can in that situation. Excellent.

Lynn Toomey (48:33):

So can you show your book one more time? I want you to be able to go check it out on Amazon. So it’s called Next chapter.

Annie Baker (48:39):

This chapter? Yeah, next chapter, real estate. And actually, my name on the book is Annie Baker Cleaver. I got remarried and had been remarried for five years and decided to change my name to my husband Cleaver, and it lasted two months, and I was like, I can’t be Annie Cleaver. I’ve been Annie Baker for 30 years. And so then these are my workbooks. So I made two funny titles. One is God don’t want me yet, but when he does, I’ll be prepared. So this is actually my bestseller, and then this is The Devil Don’t Want Me yet. And then the other two are just next chapter planners.

Lynn Toomey (49:15):


Annie Baker (49:16):

Yeah. So I can actually give you a link on my website. I have it so you can, for all four books to Amazons, it’s a little easier if people want, but yeah,

Lynn Toomey (49:26):

For people that, because I have a lot of people that are writing books and putting them on the Amazon. How do you get to bestseller? What’s your tip?

Annie Baker (49:32):

Oh, yeah, that thing. So that’s actually the other business I started. So I do on the side, I have a business, I predominantly work with other entrepreneurs that want to write a book. And it’s Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists are the only lists you can reach bestseller status based on the number of sales you have, where a lot of other bestseller lists are more feedback and what people like and stuff. So, so my publishing company can help people get, it’s a lot less expensive to become an Amazon bestseller list that my program for that. But we do ghost striding and everything. And then also we just are adding New York Times bestseller list, so it’s a lot more expensive program, but I help people with both. So that’s kind of a little bit my retirement plan, because I love hearing people’s stories, so I get to help people bring their story to life. And so I just launched that a year ago because when I got my book Amazon bestseller status, I didn’t even really understand it when I first did it, but I got it to the bestseller status and had kind of learned about the process when I was going through it. And so now I’ve had so many people, that was almost two years ago, and people kept asking me, you do it, how’d you do it? I started that business. That’s Tugboat Publishing. We do the heavy lifting for you.

Lynn Toomey (50:55):

I might be circling back to you on that.

Annie Baker (50:58):

Oh, there you go. Yeah. I love it. I really, really believe everybody has something to share, whether it’s just a personal story or if it’s teaching as part of their personal story. And so many people, I think are a little afraid to tell their story, and I’m like, no, no, no. We’re going to tell your story, and I help get it done. Because I mean, you can’t read enough. There’s always something to learn.

Lynn Toomey (51:21):

Yeah. Yeah. I think you could do some workshops too. I could totally imagine that financial advisors would gather their clients together for a workshop to hear about what you’ve talked about in your book to give people tips on downsizing or selling or passing on their property to their kids.

Annie Baker (51:42):

And it’s so funny because I hadn’t really started doing podcasts or talking as much about all of what I do until my book came out. And even then I was a little slow to really talk about it. I kept thinking, well, most people kind of know some of this stuff. And then the more you talk about it, everyone’s like, wait, what? No, wait, tell me that again. And even my parents have it when their neighbors was an ex senator or something. And my mom, of course, is giving everyone my book, and he read it and said to my parents like, oh my gosh, I really learned. And I said, what should he? No. And he really liked it because I think it is just a simple, easy read. It’s not, I try not to overcomplicate things and just, I always say that too with my clients, this is what I do day in and day out, and I don’t want to use an acronym that you’re going to be like, what?


So I’m always slow me down if I’m not explaining something properly. And it’s probably similar in your business. You do your retirement plans and the different money markets and different ways to invest. It’s like you really have to slow it down so that people understand. And I hate asking questions if I think I’m going to look stupid. So I always say I would rather communicate like I’m talking to a first grader in the sense of just simplify it so that I make sure don’t feel dumb about this. This is what I do. So I might say, A reverse mortgage, that’s a great idea. And people are like, oh, those are bad. And so I always say, let’s talk this through a little bit. This is why I think, or I do my YouTube channel and ask people to explain it too. But yeah, so I do think I have something. I’ve had a lot to share on this podcast that in my book, and I feel like we all have that. And a lot of times we don’t get that. We know as much as we know.

Lynn Toomey (53:30):

Right? Absolutely. So I’ve been encouraging people to do some self-publishing and just put it out there. So I’ve been doing that too, but I’d like to get more eyeballs on what I’m working on, and I’m working on a new book, so I’ll definitely be circling back. Oh,

Annie Baker (53:45):

Good for you. I love it. Yeah, talk anything about the publishing side.

Lynn Toomey (53:50):

Awesome. Well, Annie, thank you so much for all of your time today and coming on the podcast to talk about real estate and downsizing and passing our properties on. I highly encourage people to go check out Annie’s books and workbooks on Amazon, and if you’re a realtor who wants to really niche down into the senior market, it sounds fabulous. I’ve always kind of toyed with the idea of getting my real estate license, but I’ve got a few different business cards right now. So yeah, I’m one of those people that needs 10 more lives to pursue all my interests. But yeah, and you know, when you do what you love, there’s no such thing as retirement. So thank you. Thank you for what you do. I’m sure a lot of people benefit greatly from

Annie Baker (54:39):

The work. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Lynn Toomey (54:40):

Yeah. All right. So as I say ladies and gentlemen who listen into my podcast on a regular basis, it is truly a better, more intentional, financially secure life. And retirement, I believe, is about knowing more and having more. And that’s the intent of my podcast, is to bring you interesting guests and topics so that yeah, less ladies can be happier, healthier, and wealthier. So thanks for listening to this episode, and here’s to getting her done.



Episode 119: Camp Reinvention…Because Age is Just a Number

In this enlightening podcast episode, Wendy Perrotti and Dana Hilmer from Camp Reinvention, seasoned coaches and mentors, share invaluable wisdom and guidance for women navigating life transitions. Wendy, a seasoned life coach, and Dana, a successful entrepreneur, emphasize the transformative potential of their 12-week program, designed to help women rediscover their passions and chart a fulfilling path forward.

They encourage listeners to take action and approach life with curiosity, highlighting the importance of embracing imperfection and challenging limiting beliefs. Wendy underscores the notion that past experiences do not define one’s future, emphasizing the opportunity for growth and change at any age.

Host Lynn, who also leads “Never Too Late to Launch” a community for women over 50 who are launching businesses, finds resonance in empowering women to explore new opportunities. As the conversation unfolds, they delve into topics such as retirement, entrepreneurship, and the endless possibilities for personal and professional fulfillment. Listeners are invited to explore Camp Reinvention and ponder the empowering question: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”  Click here to learn more and to register for the next Camp Reinvention starting via Zoom on April 30.