Monthly Archives: March 2014

7 Steps to Rapidley Sell and Stage Your home

7 Steps to Staging and Selling your Home

Are you getting ready to sell your home? Are you fully prepared? Do you want to move your property fast – and for the highest selling price possible? Well…you can with these 7 tips from Nick and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers (www.personalpropertymanagers.com ).  These easy, affordable staging tricks will help you sell your home and make your home attractive to the largest pool of potential buyers.

While the term has become more common over the past few years, home staging still remains a confusing concept for many people. What is it exactly, and how can it help with selling a home? When you sell your home, you want to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers. This will help you get the best possible price, with the least amount of time on the market.

Home staging is how you get your home ready for sale so that it appeals to a large number of people. Most buyers are not able to envision a home’s true potential; as sellers or caregivers of elderly loved ones who want to or need to sell their home, we must create this vision for our buyers. Try to think of your house as a product for sale, and look at it objectively. It is now a “house” and not a home.

Staging accentuates the positive aspects of your home, and eliminates or downplays the negative features. Your beautifully staged home is only seven simple steps away.

1. Evaluate..take a good look at your home for the first time:

You need to tour your own home as if you were the buyer. We often become so used to our homes that we don’t notice the imperfections anymore. During your tour, take some notes, create and complete checklists of things to look for, and take pictures. These will help you pinpoint areas that need repair or improvement. Often you will see things in pictures that you didn’t notice while actually in the space. Another option is to ask for an objective opinion from friends, family members, or your real estate agent.

2. De-Clutter…keep it neat and simple:

This is the simplest and least expensive step, but is the one most frequently overlooked. Buyer don’t want to have the impression that they are buying your clutter and your mess. They want to envision their stuff in your clean and de-cluttered home. In reality, only 10% of buyers can see the potential of a home.

3Keep your Home Clean:

Once all the clutter is removed, give the house a thorough cleaning. If you absolutely hate cleaning, hire a professional cleaning service. Nothing turns buyers off more than someone else’s dirt.

4Repair & Update…if it’s broke…fix it:

In the first step, evaluate and take a fresh look, you were asked to take notes on areas that might need updating or repair. If you don’t complete the repairs buyers will wonder what else is wrong with the home. They fear that you didn’t take good care of the home and that there may be deferred maintenance.

There are many simple updates you can do. Most are minor projects, such as replacing outdated cabinet knobs. This is not the time to take on major renovations.

5. Neutralize…simplify and keep it clean:

You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living in the home. If your home looks too personal (such as family pictures everywhere….), buyers feel like they are intruding and won’t allow themselves to make an emotional connection with the home. Most of us buy with emotion and then justify with reason. If your home is too specific in taste or style it will not appeal to a wide range of buyers, no matter how beautiful it is.

6.Keep it Bright and Tidy….Accessorize:

Homes need to be clean, bright, airy, and spacious. Traffic should flow easily through and between the rooms. The furniture arrangement needs to make sense. Create a flow that draws your eye to the focal point of each room.

Accessorizing can be compared to putting on jewelry when getting dressed for a special dinner or party; it’s the little touches that have a big impact. Keep it simple, such as a vase of fresh flowers on the entry table.

7. Price & List

It is important to get the house in front of as many buyers as possible. The first ten days a home is on the market are the most critical because this is when excitement is the highest. Do your research and make sure you are setting the correct price. The number one reason a property doesn’t sell is because it is overpriced. Once a home is listed too high, the damage can’t be undone, even if the price is later dropped.

In addition to pricing a home correctly for a potential buyer, it is very important to consider that the vast majority of buyers will need bank financing / mortgage. Banks will look at comps when evaluating your potential purchase. So, even if you have a meeting of the mind between buyer and seller, the buyers bank or mortgage company may not approve the loan if it is priced well above market comps.

These seven steps will give you the best chance of selling success. One of the most compelling statistics on home staging is that the cost of staging is almost always less than the amount of the first price reduction. And how many times have you seen homes get not one, but multiple price reductions? Staging really does sell homes.

For more information on home sales, staging and downsizing, please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at www.personalpropertymanagers.com  or simply give us a call at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping to transition elderly ones from their home of many years into senior care communities. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty to help sell homes.

How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Their Finances

How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Their Finances – by Nick and Joe Santoro, Personal Property Managers

Most caregivers or adult children don’t know much about their parents’ financial situation or their elder loved ones financial situation or end-of-life plans, but they need to. Getting up to speed on your elderly parents’ finances, insurance policies, long-term care plans and other information is important because some day you might have to help them handle their financial affairs or care, or execute their estate plan after they die. Without this information, your job becomes much more difficult.

This is part of a continuing series of tips and insightful discussion topics by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers www.personalpropertymanagers.com specialist in senior lifestyle transition services. Personal Property Managers handles downsizing, estate sale and content removal, full service real estate / property sale and moving elderly loved ones from their home to a senior care community in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

We suggest having a heartfelt direct talk with your parents or elderly loved ones to get a better understanding of their desires and their financial situation.

If you’re uncomfortable starting up a conversation like this with your parents,  it may be a good idea to get your siblings or other family members involved. This can help you head off possible hard feelings, plus, with others involved, your parents will know everyone is concerned.

When you meet with your parents, you’ll need to sit down and create several lists of important information, find out where they keep key documents and how they want certain things handled when they die or if they become incapacitated.

Here’s a checklist of areas you need to focus on.

Personal information

  • Contacts: Make a list of names and phone numbers of close friends, clergy, their doctors, lawyer, accountant, broker, tax preparer, insurance agent, etc.
  • Personal documents: Find out where they keep their Social Security card, marriage license, military discharge papers, etc.
  • Secured places: Make a list of places they keep under lock and key or protected by password, such as online accounts, safe deposit boxes, safe combination, security alarms, etc.
  • Service providers: Make a list of the companies or people who provide them regular services such as utility companies, lawn service, etc.
  • Medical information: Make a copy of their medical history (any drug allergies, past surgeries, etc.) and a list of medications they take.
  • Pets: If they have a pet, what are their instructions for the animal’s care?
  • End of life: What are their wishes for organ or body donation, and their funeral instructions? If they’ve made pre-arrangements with a funeral home get a copy of the agreement.

Legal documents

  • Will: Do they have an updated will or trust, and where is it located?
  • Power of attorney: Do they have a power of attorney document that names someone to handle their financial matters if they become incapacitated?
  • Advance directives: Do they have a living will and a medical power of attorney that spells out their wishes regarding their end-of-life medical treatment?
  • Financial records
  • Income and debt: Make a list of their income sources such as pensions, Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, investments, etc. And do the same for any debt (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, etc.) they may have.
  • Financial accounts: Make a list of the banks and brokerage accounts they use (checking, savings, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.) and their contact information.
  • Company benefits: Make a list of any retirement plans, pensions or benefits from their former employer including the contact information of the benefits administrator.
  • Insurance: Make a list of the insurance policies they have (life, long-term care, home, auto, Medicare, etc.) including the policy numbers.
  • Property: Make a list of the real estate, vehicles or other properties they own, and where they keep the deeds and titles.
  • Credit cards: Make a list of all their credit and charge cards, including the card numbers and contact information.
  • Taxes: Find out where they keep copies of past year’s tax returns.

For more information, on this topic or other elder care transition services, such as downsizing, content removal, estate sale, home sale and full service real estate services and moving, please contact Nick or Joe Santoro at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909 www.personalpropertymanagers.com your one stop resources.  Personal Property Managers, services clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Top 10 tips for guiding you through a home downsizing

Ten tips for downsizing your home – by Personal Property Managers

This insight and others pertaining to senior transition, downsizing, tips on maximizing your home value, and other elder care options are presented to you by Nick and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers, your one call does it all solution…serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

1. Write a list of all the items you love and can’t part with; it will help you to discard the  things that didn’t make your list.

2. Start going through your belongings at least three months before the move. Take some time each day, or a morning each week, to go through that jammed coat closet and overflowing filing cabinet. Make sure to take out all important documents. Put them in a safe place.

3. Get a feel for the size of your new home and the size of the room and compare them to your home. You may think you can squeeze in items from your old home into your new home and that may not be the case…so measure each room to compare and contrast.

4. Go through times in your home that don’t have as much sentimental value. Take the kitchen, for example; most people don’t need 10 mixing bowls and won’t get teary-eyed over losing a second spatula. If you’re downsizing from a house to a condo, target the garage. Snow shovels, the lawn mower, ladders – you won’t need any of them. Please remember that when discarding unwanted items
that not all trash companies or local municipalities will take items such as TV’s, air conditioners, refrigerators, tires, paints and old computers. Check with your local providers and townships for more details.

5. Consider recycling or donating unwanted items. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead.  Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors if they can use any of the small items in your house (cleaning products for example) instead of just throwing them away.

6. Label your packing boxes…which ones you want to Keep or Sell or Donate. Just a rule of thumb…when downsizing..only keep about half of your current belongings. Charity’s are a great way to get rid of unwanted items. Some charities will even come out to your property and pick them up (depending on condition of the item as well as the size)

7. Don’t be afraid to ask others for their opinion. If you can’t decide whether to keep or get rid of a specific item, don’t be shy in asking for a second opinion either from family, friend or neighbor.

8. Be very mindful that when selling your goods, they will not sell anywhere close to what you originally paid for it.

9. Sketch out and map out a floor plan to prearrange your furniture before the move. This is another useful reality check. To start, draw plans if you don’t have any, and sketch in a furniture layout. Don’t wait until after you move to contend with.

10. Once you get to the packing stage, use a system to organize all of your boxes. There are many ways to help organize your move, but one way is to choose a color for each room and mark the boxes destined for that room with a coordinating color sticker. Another option is to do it numerically so each room will have a number.

Personal Property Managers services New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We specialize in providing a single source resource for home transition services, downsizing, estate sale, full service real estate buy/sell services via our association with EveryHome Realty and assisting caregivers take care of all home and property issues for their elderly loved ones. For more information, please contact Nick Santoro at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909  www.personalpropertymanagers.com

Where are Seniors Moving? A look at Senior Housing Trends

Senior Housing Trends – Where is the market going?

Where is the housing market going for our seniors? What are their options?

This is part of a continuing series of articles and tips into elder care and ideas on how to address topics such as downsizing, estate sale, content removal, home clean-out, property sale, moving and other real estate transition insights by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers (www.personalpropertymanagers.com). Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

According to demographic researcher Arthur C. Nelson, aging baby boomers increasingly want to sell the large homes they bought to raise their families. This, in turn, could cause the next housing crisis later this decade.

But the single-family sector’s loss may be the multifamily industry’s gain, since many of those senior citizens are likely to downsize into newly constructed apartment communities – many of which emphasize multi-generational living.

Arthur Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah, calls the emerging trend “The Great Senior Sell-Off.” Nelson and Earl Blumenauer, in their book “Reshaping Metropolitan America: Development Trends and Opportunities to 2030,” say that by the end of this decade about 7% of seniors ages 65 and older will move each year. Furthermore, roughly 74% of new housing demand then could come from the current owners of the typical 1960s-1980s single-family homes: which are typically single family houses, many more than 2,500 square feet and some on large lots of at least a half-acre.

In an interview with “The Atlantic,” Nelson indicated that though the boomers hope subsequent generations will buy their homes, the demand might not be there as younger families choose condominiums or urban townhouses.

“That demand used to be almost zero percent (for condos and townhomes), and now its 25 percent,” Nelson told the Atlantic.

Nelson also said the growing population of lesser-educated minorities might cause an income gap that will further reduce the demand for the Boomers’ old homes. He blames the nation’s education system on this possible trend.

The next housing crash is predicted to take place around 2020 due to changing preferences and declining median household income due to unaffordable higher education, people just don’t have the money nor are they willing to spend it on education which may not produce the return on investment it once did.

But the seniors have to move somewhere if they’re able to sell their homes. That will likely be apartments.

“They’re going to rent,” Nelson told the “Chicago Tribune.” Some 80% of seniors age 65 are home owners, which is the highest of any age group. Currently, about 4% of senior homeowners move each year, and of this group, about 60% of them move into rentals of one kind or another.

It is predicted that two-thirds of all new housing demand between 2010 and 2030 will be for rental housing. An article in “Building Design and Construction” stated that 5% to 8% of those seniors will choose seniors-only facilities.

While the senior-housing market is building, another option is rapidly emerging: That of multi-generational communities, which serve everyone from millennials to baby boomers. These developments usually consist of several buildings, at least one of which is earmarked for seniors only. A common community area with dining facilities, recreation rooms, outside walking and sitting areas and, when climate allows, swimming pools allows all residents to intermingle.

And unlike many seniors-only facilities, children and younger adults can enter the senior building freely, allowing parents, their adult children and grandchildren to live separately, but very close if they desire.

In summary, while seniors might have trouble selling their homes at the end of this decade, the multifamily industry is providing some nice options once the “Sold” sign goes up.

For more information on the senior housing market or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at  215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909 www.personalpropertymanagers.com  Personal Property Managers specializes in helping to transition elderly ones from their home of many years into senior care communities. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, full service real estate home sale services.

How to pay for the long term care of elderly loved ones

How to pay for the long term care of elderly loved ones

Are you the caregiver of an elderly loved one? If so, there are important realities that you should know about long-term care. Long-term care is more expensive than most people think. It is often a topic that is avoided and never discussed. Most people are in denial. It just sort of creeps up; then one day it hits you like a ton of bricks. Did you know that the cost of care is usually paid for out of pocket and via ones savings, the sale of their home and income?

This is part of a continuing series of articles and tips into elder care and how to address topics such as downsizing, estate sale, content removal, home clean-out, property sale, moving and other real estate transition insights by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers (www.personalpropertymanagers.com). Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

Did you know that about 70 percent of people turning 65 can expect to need some kind of long-term care as they age? A number of public programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, may help pay for some long-term care services under certain circumstances. However, each program has specific rules about what services are covered, how long you can receive benefits, whether or not you qualify for benefits, and how much you have to pay in out-of-pocket costs. The process can be overwhelming, because it is often combined during a stressful and emotional time.  

MEDICARE FOCUSES ON ACUTE CARE COSTS

Do not be fooled into thinking that Medicare will take care of everything. Medicare covers medically necessary care and focuses on medical acute care, such as doctor visits, drugs and hospital stays. If very specific conditions are met, Medicare will help pay for all or a portion of a short stay in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care or home health care.

Did you know that Medicare does not cover custodial long-term care services? These services  help people perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are non-medical, such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, and bowel and bladder management.

MEDICAID AVAILABILITY

What about Medicaid? What is it? Did you think that whatever Medicare did not cover that Medicaid would? Medicaid is a joint federal and state government program that helps people with low income and assets pay for some or all of their health care bills. It covers medical care, long-term care services in nursing homes and long-term care services provided at home. Rules about who is eligible for Medicaid benefits and what services are covered are based on federal requirements, but states have considerable leeway in how they operate their programs. Each state is totally different and may choose to cover long term care or not.

To be eligible for Medicaid, you must meet certain requirements, including having income and assets that do not exceed the levels used by your state. The Medicaid eligibility process considers the value of your home to make sure it is under the state set limit, your assets and your income. Documentation from your financial institutions and your portfolio are reviewed for qualification and a “look back” of five years will be required. Once your state determines you are financially eligible for Medicaid, the state will conduct a functional assessment to determine whether you are disabled enough to qualify for long-term care services. Your state Medicaid Assistance office is the best source for information about how to qualify for Medicaid in your state and if you qualify for long-term care services.

If you receive Medicaid coverage for long-term care services, federal law requires states to recover the amount Medicaid spent on your behalf from your estate after you die. Most states recover the cost of long-term care services.

PAYING OUT-OF-POCKET FOR CARE

If you have enough income and savings, you will need to pay for long-term care services on your own, from your incomes, savings and, possibly, the equity in your home. Many people believe wrongly the medical insurance or the disability insurance they currently have will pay for all or much of their long-term care. In general, health insurance covers only very limited and specific types of long-term care. Disability policies serve to replace income and, as such, but do not cover long-term care at all.

Long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term services and supports. Insurance policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for services to assist them with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or eating. You can then select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them. If you are in poor health or already receiving long-term care services, you may not qualify for long-term care insurance.

For additional methods of paying for long-term care can be found at longtermcare.gov.

For more information on home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909  www.personalpropertymanagers.com  Personal Property Managers specializes in helping to transition elderly ones from their home of many years into senior care communities. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, full service real estate home sale services to help sell homes with proceeds going towards paying for the long term care of elderly loved ones and moving services.