Transition Thursday: Helping the Elderly Downsize

In her long career as a psychiatrist, Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross has been described by friends and colleagues as practical and calm. But two other traits, humor and patience, went right out the window when she decided to downsize.

“You ask yourself what you want to keep, and the answer is ‘everything,’ ” said Dr. Harrison-Ross, who turns 80 next month. “It’s an emotional roller coaster that takes a toll on you. It’s very tiring.

“I thought I could get down to the bare essence of things myself,” she said. “But that proved to be very difficult, much more than I had expected.”

Her solution: Dr. Harrison-Ross hired a senior move manager.

Read the rest at The New York Times

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday: Senior-Friendly Guide to Downsizing

Boomer Senior Couple Moving Boxes

Most seniors know that there will come a day when they’ll have to downsize, either to simplify their lifestyle, to cut costs, to be closer to grandchildren, or to address medical needs.

It’s often a stressful and tolling process – both emotionally and physically. But it doesn’t have to get overwhelming. Here are some tips from GoodCall to make your downsize easier.

1. Start early. Give yourself plenty of time for this process, because it will inevitably take longer than you expect. Take your time, and don’t try to sort through your entire house in one day or weekend. A couple of weeks to a month is a more realistic timeline. Take it one room at a time, and take breaks throughout.

“Go through each item one by one,” says Alison Kero, CEO of ACK Organizing in Brooklyn. “It’s important to give everything you own your attention for at least a second or two. It will also help you develop a great decision making system because you’re learning how to focus and then choose, if even for a second or two.”

If you aren’t rushed, you’ll find downsizing to be much less stressful.

2. Start small. You probably already have a couple of things in mind to toss out in the kitchen or garage, but avoid diving into such a big room at the very beginning. You have years and years of things to sort through. Start in an area with little emotional attachment. The laundry room or linen closet are good options. Understand your needs. If you’re moving into a two-bedroom house, four sets of sheets should be plenty. The rest can go.

“Garages/attics/basements are notorious for being the hardest rooms to tackle,” says Debra Blue, co-founder and CEO of Blue Moon Estate Sales. “These rooms tend to accumulate all the old hobbies, boxes, old holiday decorations, and clutter. They’re also known to be rather uncomfortable spaces. In the summer it’s too hot, winter it’s too cold, and in the springtime it can be too humid.”

3. Eliminate rooms you won’t have in your new home. If you’re moving to an apartment or townhome, you might not have a garage or office space. Nearly everything in those spaces will need to be sold, donated, tossed, or relocated to other rooms. These areas might also be good items for consignment or Craigslist sales; nice office furniture and outdoor tools are more valuable than old sofas or mattresses.

“Organize backwards,” suggests Jamie Novak, author of ‘Keep This Toss That.’ “A common suggestion is to pick out the stuff you don’t want and pack the rest. Try the opposite – pack the keepers. What’s left can be looked at and most can be shared or donated.”

4. Get rid of duplicates. You’ll find this is especially true in your kitchen. You have two or three spatulas and ladles; a couple of oversized stock pots; four different sized cookie sheets; a blender, a food processor, a coffee grinder, and a nut chopper. Now’s the time to reduce the clutter. If you’re feeling wary of handing off that second roasting pan because you use it every Christmas (but at no other time during the year), consider giving it to a child or grandchild who can bring it over for the holiday and take it home when they leave.

5. Only make Yes or No piles – no Maybes. When you’re going through years of belongings, some things are going to tug at your heartstrings, and you’ll be tempted to make a third pile of things to keep if you have space. Don’t fall for it. You’ll end up with a Maybe pile that’s bigger than either of the other two, and you haven’t really made any progress in sorting, just moved it across the room. Take a hard look at every item you pick up. If you use it regularly or expect to in your new home, keep it. If it’s been sitting in a closet or on a shelf for a year or more, it’s time to let it go.

“If you already weren’t using it, or didn’t like it, why on earth would you want to pack it up and schlep it to your next house?” says Hazel Thornton, of New Mexico-based Organized for Life. “I know it sounds silly, but people do it all the time. Moving isn’t cheap, either; do you really want to pay extra to move stuff you don’t even want? Don’t delude yourself by telling yourself you’ll deal with it at your next destination. No, you won’t.”

6. Reduce collections creatively. It can be hard to let go of a lifetime collection of porcelain dolls or snow globes from all your vacations, but they will eat up a lot of space or else end up stored in a box where you’ll never see them. Instead, pick a couple to keep and take high-resolution photos of the rest, then have them made into a photo book that can sit on your coffee table or mantle. You and guests will be able to enjoy them without the clutter. There are also tech tools or websites such as Fotobridge.com that will convert those boxes of photo negatives to digital.

Blue, of Blue Moon Estate Sales, says when you’re trying to reduce a collection, ask yourself, “Which one is your favorite?”

“This is a great way to thin out big collections and focus on the one that really brings joy. When it comes to the rest of your collections or newer ephemera, take pictures with your smartphone! You’ll enjoy it more when it comes up in your digital photos than it being stashed in a drawer or box. The memories will continue to live on through photos and conversations with loved ones.”

7. Don’t be afraid to sell things yourself. With Craigslist, Ebay, numerous smartphone apps, yard sales, and an abundance of consignment shops, selling your belongings has never been easier. You probably won’t make a ton of money on most items, so consider how much time you want to invest. Yard sales are usually faster, but items won’t sell for as much. Craigslist has its drawbacks, but you’ll have a much wider audience and can probably get more for your stuff. Consignment is a good option for high-end furniture, handbags and other accessories; prices are reasonable, and they’ll sometimes pick up heavy furniture for you. If you aren’t handy with a computer, your grandchildren can probably help. But if that all sounds like more than you care to deal with, hiring a firm to run an estate sale might be your best bet.

8. Consider legacy gifts early. Is there an antique clock in your foyer that you plan to one day leave to your son? Maybe a china collection your granddaughter adores? If there are certain heirlooms or pieces you plan to leave to your family in your will, consider instead giving those gifts now. This has two benefits: you’ll get the items out of our way, and you’ll be able to enjoy the feeling of giving those items to your loved ones now. While you’re at it, find out if there are any items your children want that you don’t know about – you might find an easy way to make them happy and lighten your load.

9. Allow some time to reminisce. While you’re cleaning and sorting, there will be some days when you want to stop emptying the kids’ bedrooms and just look through the kindergarten drawings, soccer trophies, and once-prized stuffed animals. It’s OK to pause and let the nostalgia take over for a bit. Cry if you need to, or move on to another room and come back. This is why you started early – just don’t let it prevent you from eventually getting the job done.

“I always ask my clients how the item at hand makes them feel,” says Morgan Ovens, of Haven Home in Los Angeles. “If it brings up any negative feelings, let it go. If it brings happiness of course it stays! The idea here is to only be surrounded by things you absolutely love. Isn’t that a great goal?”

10. Use this as a chance to bond. Invite the kids and grandkids over for the weekend. Talk to the young ones about where you bought your favorite trinkets. Tell them about your family’s heirlooms. Let them help pack, ask questions, and spend time with you. Get help posting items for sale online. It can be one more moment your family shares together in the house you’ve loved – before you start making those memories together in your next home. Remember that it’s your family that’s important for the memories you cherish, not the stuff around you.

Read the rest here.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Transition Thursday: 10 Best Retirement Steps to Take Right Now

Chalk drawing of house and dollar sign on blackboard1. Have a discovery phase
Call it an assessment, checkup or discovery, but a key part of planning for retirement is taking an overall look at what’s going on. See where your money is invested, check the performance and scrutinize your contributions. Online tools, such as Bankrate’s best retirement calculator or retirement income calculator, can help you to see if you are on track to accumulate enough money to meet your expenses and the live you want to live in retirement.

2. Learn the rules
The rules of retirement financing are complicated, but you don’t have to be Einstein to learn them. Get the lowdown on a couple of specifics. Should you be in a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA? One has tax-deductible contributions, the other has tax-free withdrawals.

Social Security has different claiming strategies, and one notable loophole — “file-and-suspend” — is over. As you prepare for retirement, check your Social Security account to see how you might claim a bigger benefit by waiting until your full retirement age. At the very least, you should know that for every year past 62 you delay benefits, your monthly check increases.

Read more tips at Bankrate.com

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday – Downsizing with Estate Sales – Part Two

estate sale shopping cart signIn Part One of this series, we learned that most estate sales occur when the homeowner is downsizing.

Now you will learn more of the important things to know when considering using an estate company to conduct your downsizing sale.

What do estate sales companies charge? Estate companies generally charge 30% to 35% commission on the sale’s gross proceeds. Additional fees may also be charged for transferring some items off-site for sale. Even with the commission charged, an estate sale will almost always net more than a garage sale you hold on your own (and you don’t have to do as much work!)

What are estate auctions? Estate auctions, which can be held on-site or off-site, work a little differently, although generally cost the same. On-site auctions are similar to estate sales, except items are not priced in advance. Instead, items are placed strategically and auctioned in an order pre-determined by the auctioneer. When liquidating a large estate, it is more practical and efficient to have an estate sale or an on-site estate auction.

Off-site sales can be advantageous when the sale is not extensive and items can be easily transported to the auction house. The auctioneer will come to your home to evaluate your belongings, and then arrange for your items to be to be boxed and transported to their site. You will most likely need to gather together the items for auction. Your auction will be scheduled and the date advertised, just like an estate sale.

What do estate auction companies charge? Estate auctions typically charge between 25% and 35% of the gross proceeds, comparable to estate sale fees. You can also expect a transportation fee for removing items from your home, depending on the location and the amount of items being transported.

What is right for me – sale or auction? Time is the biggest deciding factor – if you are planning on staying in your home right up to closing, there will probably not be enough time for an estate sale, which can take from a week to a month to prepare for and hold. If you can move out of your home (including packing and taking the belongings you want, and leaving the rest) a few weeks before the new owners take possession, an estate sale is viable. Your time frame will help you determine whether an estate sale or auction makes sense for you.

Will I really get market value for my “stuff”? There is a big difference between “market value” and “resale value.” Often we expect the price we paid for the item to determine its re-sale value. while in fact, most items depreciate in value, with the exception of some antiques and collectibles.

Your 20-year-old refrigerator may not bring $20, if it sells at all. Your old sleeper sofa might yield an end-of-year tax deduction if donated to charity. The old pot you’ve been using in your garden for years, could sell for $50. This illustrates why using professional and reputable estate sale companies or auctioneers to value and sell your belongings, rather than doing it on your own, will generally maximize the proceeds resulting from the sale.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Transition Thursday: 4 Tips to Start a Bidding War on Your Home

Chalk drawing of house and dollar sign on blackboardPrice low to sell high.

Listing on the high side and testing the market doesn’t work. Your home will sit on the market and you are helping the neighbor down the street to sell his home. Listing below market value will attract attention, increase traffic flow and generate showings in the first few days.

Set a deadline for offers: Yes, this is scary, as you may not get any offers. Yet, it can light a fire under the procrastinators. Agents and buyers like to know the expectation of when contracts will be reviewed. You can wait until the first weekend of open houses to determine if this is the best course of action for your property.

Spark interest ahead of time:

Announce your Coming Soon listing before placing the details on the multiple listing service. Using social media channels is a strategic way to begin creating a buzz. Mass emails to potential buyers and realtors is also key. You can also list the home on the MLS, but state no showings are allowed until the open house. People want what they cannot have.

Create a unique open house experience:

People want to come to a party. How about a neighborhood sneak-peek? I had a lovely property with a pool cabana and offered chair massage. Another, I hosted an art show. The next will offer interior design tips from my stager extraordinaire. Stand out, be different and entice people to come see the home and experience it for themselves.

Toss It Tuesday – Downsizing with Estate Sales – Part One

estate sale shopping cart signDid you know that most estate sales occur when the homeowner is downsizing?

In this two-part series, you will learn the important things to know when considering using an estate company to conduct your downsizing sale.

What do these companies do for me? Estate sale companies evaluate and set up your items to sell, price them accordingly, monitor the sales and the flow of traffic, and provide security and extra personnel to deter theft during the sale. They will arrange for appropriate permits and advertise your sale in advance, to ensure a high flow of traffic.

What goes and what stays? Estate sale companies will ask you to leave everything you want sold in the estate sale exactly where it is, allowing you to focus on packing and removing just the items you want and need – no sorting, organizing or arranging items you no longer want. For instance, simply leave that 45-piece china set in the cabinet and the estate sale company will clean it and ensure it’s attractively displayed. Lastly, estate sale companies also recommend that you do not discard any items – allow them to be the judge of what should be thrown away, taking the guesswork out of the equation for you.

How are my belongings priced? Estate sale companies are experienced in pricing items based on current market value. Although to you, your great grandmother’s old and tarnished teapot may appear worthless, an expert might recognize its real market value. These companies’ personnel are often trained in antiques and appraisals – their expertise in pricing your belongings at appropriate market value will help you maximize the results of your sale or auction.

Why not just have a garage sale? You can request the estate sale company set a “reserve” on any item. If it does not sell for the minimum amount you set, you can keep it instead of selling it for less.

Next Toss It Tuesday – Downsizing with Estate Sales – Part Two

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Toss It Tuesday – Tips for Getting Rid of All That Stuff You Don’t Need

Simplifying your aging parents’ life can be complicated and stressful…especially when downsizing their belongings before a move to a more manageable living space.

TIP: When in Doubt…Sort It Out!

Use these categories to sort your parents’ belongings:

1) Necessities – What are the most commonly used items in your parents’ everyday living? Furniture, personal toiletry items, kitchen and eating utensils, clothing, and more. You want to make sure these items are moved to your parents’ new location.

2) Family Heirlooms – Jewelry, furniture, china and more.

3) Sentimental Items or Keepsakes – Gifts, photos, souvenirs

4) Disposables – so sentimental value and not useful at new location

5) Charitable Contributions – unwanted musical instruments, craft supplies, books

6) Trash – all items that can be thrown out

7) Valuables – items that can be sold

PROCESS: Use three different colors of Post-It notes to classify the items in Categories 1 (Necessities), 2 (Family Heirlooms) & 3 (Sentimental Items) that will go with your parents to their new location. This will make it easier for you to figure out what needs to go where as you sort through your parents’ possessions.

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DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

FREE SEMINAR: June 7 – Tax, Legal & Financial Issues

 The “Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series” presents “Tax, Legal & Financial Issues” on June 7.

We all know there can sometimes be complexities related to the transfer of property. More times than not families try to solve these problems during a crisis, but creating a contingency plan in advance is a far better way of dealing with potential pitfalls. Your home is often your most valuable asset and there are thing you need to know before you move forward with any major decisions that will impact your future.

You may be asking…

– What legal documents are needed when selling my home??
– What are the tax implications of owning, selling, or transferring property??
– How should property be deeded to avoid potential future challenges?
– What other issues should I be aware of?

Join us to hear first hand from legal, financial and tax experts about how to avoid common challenges faced by families just like yours.

Admission is free. Location: Lafayette Library Community Hall, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd in Lafayette. Time: 10 AM – 11:30 AM. Please call 925-788-6582 to register or sign up online at http://savvyseniorsliving.com/schedule/. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

55+ Senior Living Options

Ad for 55+ Senior Living OptionsREGISTER NOW FOR THIS FREE SEMINAR: The “Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series” debuts on Wednesday, February 1, with “55+ Senior Living Options”. You will learn the facts about the many types of retirement communities available in the East Bay area and the questions you should be asking when considering your options. This is the perfect place to educate yourself so that you can make the right decisions for you and your family.  Admission is free. Location: Lafayette Library Arts & Sciences Discovery Center, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd in Lafayette. Seminar start at 10 AM. Please call 925-788-6582 to register or sign up online at http://savvyseniorsliving.com. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

“Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series” to Educate and Empower East Bay Senior Homeowners

Savvy Seniors Living Seminar SeriesThe facts. It’s what East Bay homeowners want concerning late-in-life housing issues like reverse mortgages, 55+ senior living options, selling a house in today’s market, and preparing to “stay put” in your own home as you age-in-place.

These topics, along with others, will be presented in the upcoming Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series as 90-minute monthly educational seminars beginning in February at the Lafayette Library Arts & Sciences Discovery Center, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd in Lafayette.

Adults 55+, seniors, and caregivers are invited to attend the free Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series to learn the actual facts about issues related to home ownership and post-retirement downsizing in the S.F. Bay area.

This series of candid conversations and expert panel discussions about the unique and often complex issues facing long-time homeowners is to be moderated by Dayna Wilson, Seniors Real Estate Specialist® [SRES]® of Keller Williams Real Estate-East Bay, who has a team that provides comprehensive “senior friendly” transition services related to downsizing, late-life relocation, and (55+) senior living solutions.

“Emotions get in the way, and fear often sets in,” said Wilson. “Seniors often have to deal with the prospect of leaving the family home, of losing their independence, and sorting through all the stuff they’ve accumulated over the course of their lifetimes. This is where our expertise and experience in dealing with these types of moves comes in.”

Increasing numbers of 55+ active adults in the East Bay and beyond have many questions. “Many seniors have no idea what is available to them, how much it will cost, or the process for making all the pieces fit together,” Wilson continued. “We want to give them helpful information, introduce them to trusted local resources, and answer their questions. Beyond helping with immediate needs, our intention is give individuals and families both direction and confidence so they feel empowered when the time comes to make a major life decision.”

The Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series debuts with “55+ Senior Living Options” on February 1 at 10 AM. “You will learn the facts about the many types of retirement communities available in the area and the questions you should be asking when considering your options. This is the perfect place to educate yourself so that you can make the right decisions for you and your family,” said Wilson.

Additional seminars include:

February 1: 55+ Senior Living Options
March 1: Independent Living Options
April 12: Estate Liquidation Strategies
May 3: Selling Your Home in Today’s Market
June 7: Tax, Legal & Financial Issues
July 12: Reverse Mortgages -Truth vs. Myth
August 2: Aging in Place (a.k.a. ‘Staying Put’)
September 6: Assisted Living Options
October 4: Downsizing Lessons from People (Just Like You) Who Know
November 1: Rightsizing 101 – Professional Panel
December 6: Storytelling – Legacy

The seminars are open to all individuals who want to learn the facts about local senior living options from some of the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the senior living industry. Admission is free. All seminars start at 10 AM. Please call 925-788-6582 to register or sign up online at http://savvyseniorsliving.com. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

More about the host and moderator: Dayna Wilson has been serving clients in the East Bay communities of Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Pleasant Hill, Concord, Clayton and Martinez and beyond since 2009. As a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist® Dayna helps Boomers, Zoomers and Savvy Seniors explore housing options, ensuring that their next home best serves their current and future needs.