Choosing the Right Senior Move Manager

What exactly is a Senior Move Manager? According to the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM), they are professionals that “assist older adults and their families with the emotional and physical aspects of relocation and/or aging in place.” If needed, they can be an integral part of your transition.

How can they help?

They can develop a plan to help you stay at home, if it is still safe to do so, or help you to move where you would like to go. Also, they can organize, declutter, if needed, organize estate sales, arrange shipments, storage or donate belongings. Additionally, they can design floor plans, oversee movers, coordinate cleaning or waste removal and set up a new home. The list doesn’t stop here.

Choosing the Right Senior Move Manager

Since you will be with them for quite some time, make sure you are comfortable with them. It would be a good idea to interview more than one candidate, in person if possible. Here are some topics to consider:

Credentials

There are several credentials that they may have including certifications or exams that they have passed. Some of these organizations may include NASMM – the National Association of Senior Move Managers (nasmm.org), CRTS – the Certified Relocation & Transition Specialists (crtscertification.com) or NAPO – the National Association of Professional Organizers (napo.net).

How Much Do They Charge?

You should find out if they charge by the hour or by the job. You should receive a contract or agreement stating what their services include and the estimated cost.

What Do Their Services Include?

As you can see, they can provide a variety of services. You can pick and choose which services you need and which ones you would like to handle on your own.

Insured

Please, please, please be sure to hire a Manager that is insured and/or bonded. Ask for a copy of their certificate of insurance. They will be in your home handling your possessions. Knowing that they are insured ahead of time will ease your mind.

References

References are always a good idea. This information will be very important as you contemplate which Manager you will choose. Ask the person from whom you are getting a reference from, what services were most helpful to them.

For more information on this topic, visit our website at Property Choices Real Estate. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more help is on the way.

What Not to Do Before Buying a Home

I have several clients who are about to buy a home. Two for the first time. I remember when I bought my first home. We were so excited that we slept on the floor in sleeping bags because our furniture was going to be delivered the next day. Yes, I was much younger then, but I still remember the excitement.

Even though you want to be prepared and buy everything you may need before moving day, please resist this urge until after the closing. Now is the time to save money, not spend. Here are some of the reasons why:

A Final Credit Report Can be Pulled Right Before Closing

If you are needing a mortgage, you want to make sure you protect your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and your credit scores (FICO®) right up until closing (FICO® is a person’s credit score calculated with software from Fair Isaac Corporation – in case you were ever wondering). Your FICO® scores can affect how much money a lender will lend you and at what rate. Higher FICO® scores can help you qualify for a lower rate, which can save you money. There have been times when buyers are so exciting about their new home to be, that they start buying things that they will need. This can hurt your chances of your mortgage going through…right up to the last day. Here are some things not to do before buying a home:

Don’t Buy Large Purchases

I know the urge to buy new furniture, appliances, etc. is normal, but don’t do it. Any time you put purchases on your credit, apply for new credit cards (even with no interest, no payments for a given period) or take out cash advances, will affect your credit scores. If you have any questions about finances, call your lender. Remember, he or she is part of your team.

Don’t Lease or Buy a New Car

If you need to lease or buy a new car, hold off until after the closing, if possible. Buying a car, especially with credit, will go on your credit report and lower your FICO® scores. Remember the debt-to-income ratio. Buying the car with cash can still affect your score.

Don’t Change Jobs

It is best not to change jobs, if possible. Lenders like you to have a steady source of income, preferably from the same company or at least from the same type of industry. If you do have to change jobs, please let your lender know as soon as possible.

Don’t Ever Cosign a Loan

If a family member or friend comes to you and asks you to cosign a loan for them, please say no. Everything I read about cosigning, tells me it is a bad idea. Remember, any loan you cosign will show up on your credit report as one of your own debts. If your family member or friend does not pay the loan or misses payments, the lender will come looking for you to pay.

Don’t Make Large Deposits or Cash Deposits into Your Bank

Lenders prefer for you to have the money for your down payment in the same account for at least two months. If family is going to give you money as a gift, try to deposit it in your bank ahead of time. Having a letter stating that it is a gift is also a good idea.

Don’t Miss Loan Payments

Make sure you stay on time with all your loan payments, even after you have received your loan commitment from your lender. Remember a credit report can be pulled right up until closing, so make sure you don’t miss any payments.

Happy house hunting!

For more ideas on this topic, visit me on my Facebook page or on our website at Property Choices Real Estate. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more ideas are on the way.

Connecticut Care Planning Council

I’m excited to introduce you to the Connecticut Care Planning Council (CtCPC), which is part of the National Care Planning Council (NCPC). You might not have heard about the Council, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Taken right from their website: “The Connecticut Care Planning Council (CtCPC) lists companies and individual providers on this website who helps families deal with the crisis and burden of long term care. One purpose of this website is to educate the public on the need for care planning before a crisis occurs. A second purpose is to provide, in one place, all the available government and private services for eldercare. Finally, our ultimate mission is to offer a trusted listing service that the public will recognize and turn to for expert help in dealing with the challenges of long term care”.

Some of the many services listed on the CtCPC website are accessibility equipment, assisted living facilities, elder law attorneys, geriatric care management, home health care, home care technology, hospice, home care (non-medical), relocation/real estate/moving, reverse mortgages and skilled nursing facilities. Many of the services that you may need in dealing with the challenges of long term care are right here in one place. They will be adding more services to the Council, so check back regularly.

As an Advisory Board Member of the CtCPC who represents the real estate industry as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) in Southern Connecticut, my mission is to help seniors and their families locate the resources and care that they need. Please reach out to me or anyone of the Members listed on the website for additional help. We are here for you!

For more information, visit the Connecticut Care Planning Council, Property Choices Real Estate or email me directly at kathleen@propertychoices.net. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more help is on the way.

Preparing Your House to Sell – The Bathroom

My last posts touched upon “Curb Appeal”, “The Entryway”, “The Kitchen” and “The Master Bedroom”. Now let’s talk about “The Bathroom”. How much to spend in the bathroom to sell your home is a tricky question. In most cases, it is not a wise investment to do a total, costly renovation just for you to sell it. However, you can create a spa-like atmosphere that will remind prospective buyers of a luxury hotel without breaking the bank.

Here are some simple ways to help showcase your bathroom:

Declutter

Clean out all cabinets and get rid of as many products as possible. Store away all personal items from the countertop and shower, including razors, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, scale, etc. Buyers do not want to see your personal hygiene products. Clear off the countertop except for fragrant soaps, bath oils and candles.

Clean – Make it Sparkle

It is very important to make sure the bathroom is spotless including the vanity, countertop, floor, shower and bathtub. Remove all mold and mildew. Replace silicone beading around shower and bathtub if needed. Empty waste basket and store under sink. I open a few of the perfume cards that I get in the mail and put them in the waste basket for a nice clean scent. Remove all cleaning products and store in another room.

Vanity

Be prepared for buyers to look inside your vanity to see how much space it offers. Therefore, it should be well organized. To maximize the space, you can buy storage containers that will not only organize the space, but give the area a nice new look. You can also use baskets or covered boxes to store personal items.  The cabinets and drawers should be no more than half filled, which will make the space appear larger.

Upgrades

Without spending a lot of money, there are some minor upgrades that will be worth the cost. If the walls need painting, repaint them with a neutral color. If this is the master bathroom, make sure the color coordinates with your bedroom color. If the bathtub is anything but white, I would suggest you reglaze it white or replace it depending on the cost. Since the reglazing process is only suited to certain types of bathtubs, I would ask a professional. I once hired a professional to reglaze a bathtub in an old house we were remodeling because I did not want to deal with the fumes. It made such a big difference. If you are handy and know what you are doing, you can do it yourself, but I don’t recommend it. Paint the vanity if it shows signs of wear and tear. Replacing the facet and/or knobs, installing new lighting fixtures, mirror and towel bars can give the room a fresh, new look.

In higher-priced properties, you might want to think about replacing the vanity, countertop, tile, and shower enclosure if needed.

Accessories

Remember you want to create a spa-like atmosphere. Buying a new shower curtain, white, plush bath and hand towels, sea sponges and bath salts will go a long way. You can store the towels away and bring them out for each showing. Don’t forget to add some fragrant soaps. Everyone wants a clean, fresh bathroom.

For more ideas on this topic, check out my Pinterest boards “House Beautiful” and “Get Organized” at www.pinterest.com/katurn or visit our website at Property Choices Real Estate. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more ideas are on the way.

Preparing Your House to Sell – The Master Bedroom

My last posts touched upon “Curb Appeal”, “The Entryway” and “The Kitchen”. Now let’s talk about “The Master Bedroom”. What you want most in a master bedroom is probably what prospective buyers want too. Words like spacious, elegant, calming, intimate, well organized and clean come to mind. The bedroom should have a different feel to it than let’s say the kitchen, so creating that atmosphere is very important. Color has a big impact on the mood of a room, so choose your colors wisely.

Here are some tips to help showcase your master bedroom:

Declutter

The first thing to do is clear all the clutter from the room including the closets. There should be nothing on the floor other than necessary furniture. Remove all personal items including prescriptions, family photographs, jewelry, etc. Remember, you want the buyer to picture themselves living there not you. Consider getting a storage space if necessary.

Paint Color

Before you start buying anything new, decide on a paint color that will make the room look spacious and calming. Lighter hues like gray, blue, blue gray, griege (a mixture of gray and beige) and beige will do this for you. You can use a dark color like gray, but only do it on one wall and bring in some white or lighter accent colors. Use an eggshell finish which will reflect more of the natural light. If you have any bright, bold wall colors, repaint them, even if they are in the kid’s room.

The Bed

Since the bed is the focal part of the room, make it count. After all, it is called a “bed” room. Buy new linen, duvet and pillows that coordinate with your wall color. If you don’t have a head board, it would be helpful to buy one. You can find inexpensive ones that will attached onto the bedframe. I think a material headboard is always nicer. It softens the room and makes it feel cozier. Making the bed properly is important too. Turn down the duvet if you have one to let your nice new linens show through. Put your pillows, shames and accent pillow up against the headboard to add some drama. If you have a bed skirt, make sure it covers the view under the bed. Check out my Pinterest board “House Beautiful” on Pinterest.com/katurn for suggestions.

Furniture

Clear off the night tables and dressers leaving only a lamp, maybe an interesting book or magazine and clock if necessary. Adding some flowers in a vase or candle is always a nice touch. Make sure you clear out your night tables and store only essential items in a basket under your bed.

Closets

Be prepared to have potential buyers open your closets to see how big they are inside. Closets should be well organized by arranging your clothes by type, color and length (dresses together, shirts together and facing the same direction). Use the same type of hanger if possible. Shoes should also be arranged by type and color. Keep only the clothes you are now using. Try to have no more than one-third to one-half filled, which will make the closet appear larger. There should be nothing on the floor, or at least hidden from sight.

Window Treatment

I always like drapes that go all the way to the floor. You can get metal rods and attach the drapes with drapery ring clips. You can even attach the rods higher than your windows to give your room some height. Make sure you open all drapes or blinds throughout the house for every showing, unless you want to hide something unsightly.

For more ideas on this topic, check out my Pinterest boards “House Beautiful” and “Get Organized” at pinterest.com/katurn or visit our website at Property Choices Real Estate. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more ideas are on the way.

Preparing Your House to Sell – The Kitchen

My last posts touched upon “Curb Appeal” and “The Entryway”. Now let’s talk about what many people feel is the heart of the home…the kitchen. The kitchen is where all my friends and family seem to gather around. Is it because they love to see me cook, or it is because my island is filled with hors d’ouevres, food and cocktails? I think I know the answer to that. People invest a lot of money into their kitchen upgrades because it is the most important room when it comes to the resale value of the home. Remember preparing your house to sell is quite different than the way you would live in a home every day. If you have ever toured a model home for sale, notice how the house is staged. Clutter free is always important no matter what room.

Here are some tips to help showcase your kitchen:

Countertops

Remove as much as possible from the countertops. Since your house might take a few months to close, leaving a nice coffeemaker or toaster is fine, but nothing else. You do not want to have blenders, flour containers, etc. on the countertop. Make sure they are clean. Use a nice fragrant cleaner instead of one that has a chemical smell. If you have an island, you can put a pretty bowl with some fruit in it. You might want to think of replacing your countertops if outdated. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, quartz is the most popular kitchen countertop material then granite.

Cabinets

If your cabinets are showing some wear and tear, it would be a good idea to paint or refinish them. If you can afford using a professional, this would be a good time to use one. White cabinets have always been my favorite. If you have an island, you can paint the island a different color just as long as you use a neutral color (gray is a great choice). To give your cabinets a fresh, updated look, you can simply replace your knobs. Make sure your cabinets inside are clean and organized. Pack or get rid of any non-essentials to make the cabinets appear more spacious. Pay attention to your cabinet under the sink. This is especially a place where it can show some wear and tear. I have two white pull-out trash cans that I keep under my kitchen sink. One for the trash and one for recyclables. Just make sure you measure ahead of time. I keep a minimal amount of cleaning supplies in the middle. If you have a pantry, it should also be clean and organized. If needed, changing the cabinets and/or countertops altogether can significantly transform the mood and look in your kitchen and add value. Check out my Pinterest board “Get Organized” for some clever kitchen organization ideas at pinterest.com/katurn.

Backsplash

If you think your backsplash could use an update, replace it.  We used a simple glass subway tile in our last two houses, and I would do it again. I just love the look and it seems to be timeless.

Appliances

If your appliances are old or mismatched, you might think of replacing them. Stainless steel or platinum still seems the way to go to give your kitchen a professional styling which could be a great selling feature.  Make sure you clean out ALL your appliances and keep an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator.  It helps keep odors out. My sister-in-law told me a trick on how to clean the inside of your microwave.  Boil a cup of water inside and after it boils, leave it in for ten minutes. Then wipe it down. The steam helps to clean it without any chemicals.  Remove everything from the front of the refrigerator, including magnets, pictures, and drawings from your loving children. Pack them away for safe keeping. Remember, you want the buyer to picture themselves living there not you.

Lighting

Lighting is an important element of home design. The placement and type of lighting are important aspects of interior design. As with any room in the house, when showing the house make sure all the lights are on. Lighting will make the room appear larger. If you have recessed lighting, I would leave them. If you have overhead lighting that needs updating, I would suggest replacement. You could google “what size lighting to use” to get an abundance of information. How large your kitchen is, how high your ceilings are, if you are placing fixtures over an island, will depend what size the fixture should be and how high it should be placed. There are various formulas to calculate the right size and placement of fixtures.

Setting the Table

I don’t think there is a rule on whether to set the table(s) or not in staging your home. If you are still living in the house, I would not bother. I would just add some flowers as a centerpiece. In smaller dining rooms, I would not set the table even if you are still living there or not. I think it’s distracting and can take up most of the room.  It will make the room appear smaller. If you have a large dining room that rarely gets used, you could set the table by adding a centerpiece, placemats, some nice plates, silverware, glasses and cloth napkins. You can even add some unlit candles. Do not use expensive pieces just in case showings and open houses are not well supervised.  I would not use sharp knives, but butter knives are fine. Some do not use silverware at all for safety reasons. You want the tablescape to look plentiful, but not crowded.

Aroma

Most of us love the smell of fresh baked cookies or apple pie. We do not like the smell of seafood or strong spices when we come into a house. Make sure your house always smells fresh and clean. You never know when someone would like to come see your house. Make sure your garbage and recycle bins are empty and out of sight. I buy the trash can liners that have a scent (like Febreze). If you have a garbage disposal, you can add ice cubes and cut up a lemon to clean it. It will add a fresh, clean smell.

For more ideas on this topic, check out my Pinterest boards “House Beautiful” and “Get Organized” at pinterest.com/katurn or visit our website at Property Choices Real Estate. If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”. You do not need to register. Stay tuned…more ideas are on the way.

Preparing Your House to Sell – The Entryway

My last post touched upon “Curb Appeal”.  Let’s now go inside and start with the entryway or foyer (depending on the configuration of your home).  Even though you might not consider the entryway a room, it is the first thing that a prospective buyer will see when they step inside your home.  Remember, first impressions are very important.  Let’s make it count.

Doormat

Buy a new doormat if it needs replacing. I love “Capel Rugs” http://www.capelrugs.com.  Here you can pick your own style, color and size.  Target or Wayfair are also great alternatives.

Entryway Table

If there is room to put a table, make sure it is clutter-free.  Depending on the size of the table, you can add some flowers in a vase, scented candles, lamp(s), a nice box where you can put your keys inside, and add a mirror on the wall.  Make sure you do not put any family pictures on the table.  You want the buyer to see themselves in the house, not you.

Mirror

If you don’t have room for a table, try and find another wall to put a mirror on it.  Guests will always appreciate it if they can make sure that they are presentable.

Lighting

If you need to update the lighting fixture, now would be a good time to do it.  Make sure there is adequate lighting and keep it on when showing the house.  Natural light is one of the best ways to make a room appear larger.  If you don’t have any windows in the entryway, LED lightbulbs will give the appearance of natural light.

Closet

It is a natural tendency for buyers to open the closets to see how they are being used, so make sure you spend the time and clean them out.  Make sure there is nothing on the floor.  If you must keep gloves and scarfs in the closet, put them in a pretty box on the top shelf.  If you must keep your coats in the closet, make sure the closet is no more than half full.  Buy some nice wood hangers, and keep extra ones for guests.  You want the closet to appear that there is plenty of extra room.  Do not keep any shoes in the closet.  No ifs, ands or buts.

For more ideas on this topic, check out my Pinterest board “House Beautiful” at pinterest.com/katurn or visit our website at Property Choices Real Estate.  If you like what you are reading, please follow me by entering your email and clicking on “FOLLOW”.  You do not need to register.  Stay tuned…more ideas are on the way.