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

Moving Mom Monday: 6 Tips for Touring Skilled Nursing Communities

Registered nurse comforts elderly woman patient

Skilled nursing communities (also referred to as “long-term care communities”) attract residents who are no longer able to live independently and need consistent medical assistance.

If you have a parent who needs this type of care, here are some suggestions that can help you appraise a skilled nursing community:

1. Visit the community on different days and at various times, including mealtimes. Take note of staff morale, resident activities and nursing staff levels.

2. Talk to members of the nursing staff about how long they have worked there.

3. Ask the nursing community administrators about staff-to-resident levels.

4. Obtain a copy of the most recent state survey to learn whether the community has been cited for deficiencies.

5. Ask if they have a plan of care for each resident, and if it is revised continually. Ask to see a sample copy of such plans.

6. Contact the local ombudsman organization and ask about the specific long-term care communities in the area.

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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

Moving Mom Monday: Housing Needs Checklist

Helping your aging parents simplify their lives?

Here are the questions to ask when planning your parents’ housing needs:

1. Do they need an apartment on a ground floor?

2. Do they need special accommodations for accessibility?

3. Do they need assistance with daily living activities? (Bathing, dressing, medications, toileting?)

4. Do they need help with meal preparation? Do they need some meals provided?

5. Do they need a place for their car(s)?

6. Will they be bringing pets to their new location?

7. Do they need a place that offers social activities?

8. Do they need housekeeping help?

9. Do they need a yard, patio or porch?

10. Do they need to be close to their current neighborhood?

11. Do they need to own?

12. Do they need to rent?

13. If buying, how much can they afford for monthly house payments?

14. If renting, how much can they afford for monthly rental payments?

15. What other factors are important to your parents when considering a move?

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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 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

Moving Mom Monday: Questions to Ask Aging Parents When Planning a Move – Part Three

Helping your aging parents simplify their lives includes a plan for preparing for a physical move.

In Part One of this four-part series, published on this blog every Monday, we started a list of questions to ask your parents concerning their current lifestyle…and how they see it changing in the future.

In Part Two, we discussed the questions to ask that can help determine where your parents stand financially.

In Part Three, here are the questions to ask when planning your parents’ move to a new location:

1. WHAT TO DO WITH POSSESSIONS: Which items do they want to keep and take with them, give to family and friends, liquidate or store?

2. MOVE ASSISTANCE: Who will assist your parents with the details of the move? List professionals, family and friends.

3. TIMING: What date or time of the year would your parents prefer to make the move?

4. PREPARATION: What will your parents need to do to prepare their house for sale?

5. EXPERIENCE: What can your parents learn from other people who have been through this type of downsizing move?

6. MEDICAL: Will your parents need to consult with their physicians regarding health care needs as they move?

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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

Moving Mom Monday: Questions to Ask Aging Parents When Planning a Move – Part Two

Helping your aging parents simplify their lives includes establishing where they stand financially.

Finances are a key component when planning a parental move, affecting how and where your parents will live. Managing your parents’ finances are not like managing your own, especially if you don’t have all the information you need.

Again, it all starts with a plan.

In Part One of this four-part series, published on this blog every Monday, we started a list of questions to ask your parents concerning their current lifestyle…and how they see it changing in the future.

In Part Two, here are questions to ask that can help determine where your parents stand financially:

1. MONTHLY INCOME: What is your parents’ monthly income today? Is it expected to change in the future? If so, what will be the difference in monthly income?

2. SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS: Determine how much your parents have in savings and through investments. What investments do they have? Where are those investments held? Who are the contacts for the investments? How are these investments titled (joint accounts, individual, etc.)? Is there a financial adviser in the picture? Also ask about IRAs (individual retirement accounts), credit union accounts, bank accounts and insurance policies.

3. HOME EQUITY: How much equity can your parents expect to receive from the sale of their home?

4. ESTATE SALE: How much can your parents expect to earn from an estate sale?

5. MONTHLY EXPENSES: What are your parents’ monthly/annual expenses? How will these expenses change when your parents sell their home?

6. MOVING EXPENSES: Will any family members be contributing to your parents’ moving and/or living expenses? If so, who will be participating? How much will each person be contributing? Will these contributions be one-time payments or payments that continue on a monthly basis?

7. OTHER BENEFITS: What types of benefits do your parents have that can offset their housing expense? Is either parent a military veteran?

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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

Moving Mom Monday: Questions to Ask Aging Parents When Planning a Move – Part One

Helping your aging parents simplify their lives can feel daunting and stressful.

While adult children may have their parents’ best interests at heart and think they have all the answers, they don’t always know what’s best for their parents. One of the biggest mistakes? Waiting until a crisis occurs to have the conversation about housing and care options is the number one mistake we see in most families.

So, how does one help Mom and Dad go about selling a home they’ve lived in for decades and one that is full of a life’s worth of ‘stuff!?’

It all starts with a plan.

In Part One of this four-part series, published on this blog every Monday, here is a list of questions to ask your parents concerning their current lifestyle…and how they see it changing in the future.

1. HEALTH CARE OR NUTRITION: Are you tired of planning and cooking dinners every night? How would you describe your diet? Do you need assistance with grocery shopping and food preparation? How would you describe how you feel physically and emotionally? How many doctor appointments do you have scheduled per month? Will that change in the future?

2. TRANSPORTATION: Are you still driving? What are the options in your area if you need to stop driving at some point? Do you drive yourself to your doctor appointments now? Do you find yourself depending on rides from family/friends more these days? Do you ever use public transportation? Will you depend more on public transportation in the future?

3. LIVING INDEPENDENTLY: How long do you think you can live independently? What household tasks seem more difficult to accomplish now? What household tasks (lawn care, housekeeping, etc.) can you still handle? Which tasks do you need help with? Do you know who is available — volunteer or professional — to give you assistance?

4. CURRENT LOCATION: Do you want to stay close to your current neighborhood or move to another area? How important is it to you to have your family nearby? Will that change in the future?

5. FAMILY: How involved are your children and other close family members in your every day life? If so, how would you want that to change, if at all?

6. FRIENDS: Who do you consider your close friends? Do they live nearby? Will that change in the future?

7. TYPES OF ACTIVITIES: What activities do you participate in now? How important is it to you that you continue to participate in these activities?

8. LIVING SITUATION: If you were to move out of your current home, what type of living situation would appeal to you? An apartment? Senior living community? A smaller private residence? Could you rent or do you need to own?

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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

7 Things That Can Delay Close of Escrow

The May real estate market is fast and furious with most listings receiving multiple offers. Anyone can sell a home, right? Then why is it that I recently read 25% of all transactions fall apart before closing escrow?

Consider what happens when a transaction gets a bit, well…complicated. In my experience, most real estate transactions are anything but “normal.”

Here are 7 reasons I see most often that can cause an escrow to be delayed or not close at all:

1) The buyer discovers major issues with the home via inspections that either need to be repaired or credited for repairs to be done at a later date.

2) Buyers request repairs, and sellers in turn can agree to all, some or none of the requested items. When an agreement is made that seller will complete repairs and they aren’t done correctly or on time, this also delays closing.

3) The home can’t be insured, perhaps due to a safety issue, like knob and tube electrical wiring, leaving the buyer high and dry and not able to close until insurance can be secured.

4) The appraisal comes in below the offered purchase price. If the buyer can’t come up with the funds to close, and the seller won’t’ agree to sell their home for less than the offered amount.

5) Incorrect information on the loan documents or the final settlement statement.

6) Title issues can appear, including such things as liens filed by unpaid contractors. This must be rectified before the transaction can be closed.

7) Final walk through or ‘verification of property’ is another sticking point that can occur if buyer finds something different from the last time they saw the property or junk has been left inside or in the yard. The closing can again be delayed.

You owe it to yourself to hire a seasoned real estate professional who will manage your risk, successfully negotiate on your behalf, effectively communicate to all parties on a consistent basis and who takes their fiduciary responsibilities very seriously.