Monthly Archives: March 2017

How to Simplify your Life by Downsizing

How to Simplify your life by Downsizing – How to begin the process

Five Important Family Tips for Helping Seniors Clean, Organize and Downsizing their Home

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Helping Seniors Move in PA NJSimplify your life by downsizing – what you may be missing and beginning the process

Moving from your home often represents an emotional time in one’s life. Each room in the house and all its contents are associated with memories, which makes packing especially bittersweet. However, for those who are craving a more relaxed lifestyle, downsizing offers a variety of benefits.

This is part of a continuing series of articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers, who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in real estate, property management, home content downsizing and estate sale services.

First, remind yourself why you’re considering to downsize and move. The upkeep on a large home can become quite expensive, even after the mortgage is paid in full. When big-ticket items like new windows or a roof are needed, these repairs can quickly add up. Additionally, you realize that you have more space than you can possibly use and easily maintain. After children move out, there are often rooms that are used strictly as storage space, hardly ever to be set foot in again. Plus, it’s important to consider that the upkeep of a large home can easily become overwhelming in later years when tasks like raking leaves in the fall, cleaning a home top to bottom, and shoveling snow can become challenging or even dangerous.

After downsizing from your large home into a more suitable size to meet your current needs or moving into a senior living community or retirement neighborhood, most folks report a decrease in their stress levels. Many now have peace of mind knowing that they have less space to clean or living quarters all on one level. For those who move into a senior community this may include home maintenance which may now be the responsibility of someone else. For others who move into an assisted living community there is also comfort knowing that their future health care needs will also be met. Better yet…for many senior a downsizing move can lead to an opportunity to enjoy life-long learning and social networking where they can continue to grow relationships with others who share their interests is often a major perk

Joe Santoro shares that his parents who recently moved into an active adult community says that, “..every time I visited my parents I got the sense that my parents are having the time of their lives. There are so many activities within the community that even simple tasks like going to get their mail was an excuse to check in with their neighbors and hear all the latest news.”

Knowing When the Time is Right for Downsizing a Home
Considering a move to a senior living community before it becomes medically necessary is a smart decision that can help keep individuals as they continue down the path of aging. Joe points out that his parents did not realize all they are missing out on until they visited the community that they now live in.

5 Downsizing Tips for Seniors
After making the decision that it’s time to downsize and enjoy all that a retirement or senior care community has to offer, Joe points out that you must start preparing for moving day. It’s important to keep in mind that downsizing means not all belongings may be able to be brought to the new home. That’s where Personal Property Managers with its single source solution can help. PPM provides home cleanout, de-cluttering, estate sales and full service real estate services. For families considering downsizing, Joe says that you should keep the following tips in mind:

1. Ask for assistance. Start the process by asking family and friends for help. This may not be possible for many due to the mobile society we live in and the physical demands that a downsize can take. That’s were Personal Property Managers can help. Remember, moving can take a toll on even those in the most optimal health. You may also be surprised to learn the emotional attachment your adult children or grandchildren may have to certain items. Enjoy sharing memories with them as you go through the house together.

2. Keep the memories, not the items. Parting with belongings can be difficult due to the memories associated with them. You’ll need to make decisions about what to keep, what to donate to charity, what items to designate to family members, and what can simply be tossed.

3. Take your time. Packing up a home for a move is a challenging task for even the most able-bodied person. Therefore, keep in mind that it is probably not possible to go through the entire household in a single day – or even a week! As soon as the decision to downsize has been made, start sorting through smaller areas, like closets, drawers and storage spaces to quickly weed out items.

4. Write out lists. Lists are a great way to create a timeline and stay organized throughout the downsizing process. Make lists of rooms to go through and lists of items to pack, as well as lists for tasks like cancelling utilities and transferring mail.

5. Create a plan. Having a plan for moving day helps eliminate a lot of the stress of the day, so if possible, get a floorplan of the new living space. Knowing the exact dimension of the rooms helps map out what furniture can go where, as well as how much storage space is available.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

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7 Real Estate Myths – Buyers & Sellers

7 Common Buyer and Seller Real Estate Myths

Top real estate myths for both buyers and sellers.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Helping Seniors Move in PA NJAre you considering buying or selling a home? We are sure that you have lots of experts offering all kinds of advice. The experts offering you advice may come from a variety of sources such as the post office or your car wash attendant or your cousin or brother or trainer in the gym; right? Sound familiar? When it comes to real estate it seems that everyone is an expert. But take a moment to really think about it. You have the largest single asset that you will buy or sell and we often listen to people that are the least qualified to give you advice. I am sure that all have good intentions but what is really being offered is just their opinion, so treat it as such.

We have put together a list of the top real estate myths for both buyers and sellers for you to think about.

This is part of a continuing series of articles and helpful tips and insights into real estate and life style transition services by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in senior transition services such as downsizing, content clean out and removal, estate sales, full service real estate and property sale and moving and services PA and NJ.

7 Common Buyer and Seller Real Estate Myths:

1. Set your initial home selling price higher that you want. Listing your home at a price that’s too high a price may actually net you a lower price. That’s because shoppers and their real estate agents often don’t even look at homes that are priced above market value. It’s true you can always lower the price if the house doesn’t generate any offers in the first few weeks, but that comes with its own set of problems. Buyers are highly suspicious of houses that have sat on the market for more than three weeks.

2. Don’t use a real estate agent… get a better price for your home. Wow… that’s a great one right? Wrong. If the house is listed with a real estate agent, the total sales commission is built into the price. If the buyers don’t have an agent, the seller’s agent will receive the entire commission.

3. Sell your house on your own and save money. Some people do successfully sell homes on their own, but they need the skills to get the home listed online, market the home to prospective buyers, negotiate the contract and then deal with any issues that arise during the inspection or loan application phases. It’s not impossible to sell a home on your own, but you’ll find that buyers expect a substantial discount when you do, so what you save on a real estate commission may end up meaning a lower price. It’s not impossible to sell your home on your own for the same price you’d get with an agent, but it’s not easy.

4. Hold out a little longer… the market will go up. In recent years, homebuyers and sellers have experienced a time of increasing home values, then a sharp decline during the economic downturn and now another period of increasing values. Most seller think that the market only goes up; who can predict when a correction will come? The recent recession should have reminded everyone that real estate prices can indeed fall, and fall a lot.

5. Definitely renovate your kitchen and bathroom before you sell. If your kitchen and baths work, a major remodel could backfire. Prospective buyers may not share your taste, but they don’t want to redo something that has just been renovated. In many cases you are better off adjusting your price accordingly. Additionally, you may only get back 20 cents on the dollar if anything at all. Most buyers want to put their own spin on things.

6. Renovate. Don’t worry. You will get your money back. Wrong. If you fix the heating and air conditioning system or roof, you will sell your house more quickly, but you probably won’t recoup what you spent. According to Remodeling magazine’s the only renovation that is likely to net you as much as you spent is a new front door. You’re likely to recoup only 67.8 % of what you spent on a major kitchen remodel and 70 % of what you spent on a bathroom remodel on a mid-range home. Very few things will bring you great returns. If you’re going to do these projects, it’s better to do them for your own enjoyment. Additionally, if your home has not been updated, you will need to factor this into the proposed selling price. Today’s buyers are not willing to spend money to update a home as was the case years ago, so you will need to discount the listing price of your home or else it simply will not sell.

7. Open houses sell properties. Homes rarely sell to buyers who visited them during an open house. Agents like open houses because it enables them to find additional customers who are looking to buy or sell homes. If you or your agent choose not to have an open house, it probably doesn’t hurt your sale chances although holding a broker’s open house for other agents may be worthwhile.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Challenges in working with aging parents

How to Work with Your Aging Parents – 5 Insights

Dealing with challenges involved with our aging parents.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Helping Seniors Move in PA NJOf all the fine lines we have to walk in our lifetime, one of the most challenging, yet most important, is how we deal with the challenges that inevitably crop up when working with our aging parents.

Everyone’s circumstances and family dynamics are different, of course, but there are certain commonalities. Chief among them is how to provide help, support and comfort while respecting our parents’ intellect and abilities. Even as the roles shift, they’re still our parents, and no matter how wise or experienced we are, to them, we’ll always be “the kids.”

We specialize in working with families and adult children who are managing the transition of thier elderly parents. We have learned a thing or two over the years and wanted to share these insights with you. We have put together list of the top 5 tips you may want to consider when working with your agents parents. These helpful tips are part of a continuing series of articles by Nick and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in real estate sales, real estate transition services, property management and content clean-out services in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

As our parents age and need more and more help, it’s natural to want to lend a hand, but when you get involved, you need to make sure that you don’t become domineering.

Seniors who feel like their children are trying to take over their lives get resentful and angry – and as a result often disregard their help just to spite them or assert their independence.

This is why it’s important that as our parents age and do start to lose some of their abilities, we stay aware of how we’re communicating with them. Nothing presses our buttons more than family.

While this kind of behavior feels most inappropriate with our parents, being respectful and mindful of boundaries are actually the cornerstones of all healthy relationships.

Stepping Up vs. Overstepping Boundaries

So where exactly is the line between being “helpful” and turning into a bully? Sometimes when you do what you feel is needed – arrange a doctor appointment, suggest grab bars – your parents will resent your good advice. People have a fierce desire to remain independent, often even though they really do need assistance.

Add to that the difficulty of accepting the shifting reality of who is now caring for whom. This can be more difficult for our parents to accept because they often view it as “losing power” to their children.

A big part of striking the right balance has to do with how we speak and act. It’s imperative that we show respect, not attempt to force our will, and to make everything a negotiation (or at least offer options).

5 Things Adult Children and Parents Fight About

It boils down to this, if you think your parents can do something by themselves, let them. But if they – or someone else – could be harmed, don’t feel guilty about getting involved. Most seniors who are slipping a bit are lucid enough to recognize their new limitations. they’re looking for someone they trust to make things easier for them.

Here are five of the big issues that are likely to come up, plus suggestions for avoiding conflict.

1. Driving

Nothing gives people a greater sense of independence than driving. A car gets them where they want to go when they want to go. Yet in the hands of someone with physical or cognitive limitations, an automobile can become a lethal weapon.

One must be extremely sensitive when you come to the point where you insist that your parent hand over the keys. Consider trying initially to negotiate ways they can drive their car less frequently – perhaps only locally and in the daylight. Elderly people who have become nervous drivers and don’t feel they have to put up a fight often discover they actually prefer not being in the driver’s seat.

2. Finances

This is a very sensitive subject and is often met with great resistance. Unfortunatley there are many stories of financial abuse of our elderly loved ones.

The best way to approach this is to suggest that our elderly loved ones open their checkbooks and show us their credit card statements and all their bills. But if they’re unwilling and you try to force the issue, they might accuse you of meddling. When there’s no evidence of a problem, it’s better to just offer help – like balancing a checkbook. Keep your antennae up for hints of trouble.

If you suspect they are mismanaging their resources and they resist your involvement, tell them you need to call in a social worker. It might be easier for your parents to listen to a neutral third party, and a trained professional might have communication or coping strategies that you don’t.

3. Home Safety

People can be slow to accept their physical limitations. If they’ve always gotten in and out of the shower OK, why worry now? The answer is that we all have a problem projecting in the future, yet for people over 65, falls are the leading cause of injury and death. When a parent is having problems with gait or limb strength or has recently started using a walker or cane, it’s time to start the conversation.

So how should you handle this? Often scare tactics go a long way. The image of lying alone, in grave pain, injured (or possibly dying) alone in the living room might be enough to “put the fear of God” into a parent who perfers not to discuss such issues. Often times elderly loved ones wouldn’t wear their life-alert pendant until they hear about someone who fell and waited several hours for the ambulance to arrive.

Most people will accept minor fixes, like rug tape or bathtub no-slip strips, so if you start with the little things (and build up to the larger ones), you won’t come off as oppressive.

4. Doctors, Treatments and Medication

Seniors are not always forthcoming about their medical reports. Sometimes they haven’t completely understood what a doctor has said, or they could be deliberately withholding information they think will make them seem enfeebled or cause you to worry.

If your parent seems healthy you may want to consider backing off (but keep a watchful eye). If, however, you observe any symptoms or notice your parent is missing doctor appointments, getting confused with his medications and won’t let you help, call in a social worker or nurse. Tell your parent you are doing so. In a life-or-death matter, there’s no such thing as a bossy pants.

5. End-of-Life Planning

No one likes to think about this heaviest of all topics – and yet if people want their wishes heeded, important documents need to be in place: a power of attorney, a last will and testament, a living will, organ donation papers, funeral preferences and more.

How to handle You cannot force your parents to do any of these things or tell you where they keep the safety deposit box key.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

How to begin Downsizing your Home

How to Begin Downsizing Your Home

4 Quick Tips

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Home Staging Tips PA NJThe vast majority of the clients who contact us are simply overwhelmed trying to tackle downsizing their home or the home of a loved one. It is physically and mentally draining. Often it entails going through possessions that have been in the house for 40 plus years. Where do you begin?

This is part of a continuing series of articles and helpful tips and insights into helping you move forward and sell your home and clean out your contents by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers. Personal Property Managers specializes in real estate sales and marketing, home downsizing, content clean out and removal and estate sales, and services Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Moving from your home of 20, 30 or 40 years is a daunting task. Often our client tell us it’s an “oh my gosh moment” – where do I begin? This is where we can help you.

Did you know that downsizing and moving ranks as one of lifes most difficult events, along with loss of a spouse, divorce and job change. People feel overwhelmed, and wonder; where do they even start?

At Personal Property Managers, we understand the emotional toll downsizing and moving can take on our clients and their families. If you are moving from your home of many years into a senior care community or just relocating, our goal is to help you transition seamlessly to this exciting new chapter in life.

Nick Santoro says that of the many challenges of moving, downsizing is the most difficult. Nick says the reason for this is that you have to make decisions about every personal possession in your home. Personal Property Managers is at your side helping you every step of the way.

Santoro suggests viewing downsizing as a process. We suggest that you start with small goals, and plan on sorting for just a few hours at a time.

  1. Sorting through the easiest and obvious first. Choose a room where what needs to go or stay is the most obvious – like your bedroom or a room that’s rarely used.
  2. Using colored stickers, labels or Post-It notes to identify where items will go. More efficient than writing out a list, movers and family members can use the stickers as guidance on moving day.
  3. Assessing practicality and sentimentality. Items that are both practical and sentimental should move with you. Items that are neither should be left for family, sale or charity.
  4. Eliminating duplicate items or items that are the wrong size. Chances are, you only need three sets of towels, not six. If clothing does not fit, do not bring it with you.

Before the move, Santoro recommends creating a floor plan and determining the practicality of existing furniture. Nick says, do not go out and buy new furniture. Instead, be open to using furniture in new ways.”

Taking measurements of available space is also important. Virginia, a recent client said, “We had large paintings that we really loved, but did not think we could bring with us. Nick had our floor plan and measurements and said, “Oh, yes we can. I know just where those paintings can go!’”

“It’s the sentimental items that make a house a home,” Nick reminds our clients. “Those are just as important as packing up your sensible shoes and kitchenware.”

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Top 5 tips – how to flip houses

Top 5 tips – how to flip houses

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Property Manager PA NJAre you considering investing in real estate? Are you interested in buying an investment property, fixing it up and selling it, often called flipping a property? House flipping in the real estate sector refers to where you invest in a property with the objective of making a nice profit on it, often in a relatively short period of time.
The golden rule with making money on property is always to buy low and sell high, but there are risk factors that must be considered. Especially if you are a novice investor or renovator, you need to really do your homework and then some. Your ‘flip’ can quite easily turn into a ‘flop’ and a significant financial loss says Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers.

This is part of an on-going series of real estate articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in real estate, home content downsizing, property management and estate sales.

We suggest that home buyers, should buy with the view to creating security for themselves and their families. Real Estate does present the opportunity to not just grow your personal wealth, but make some nice profits, if you approach it in a careful way.

Some of the popular types of property that house-flippers tend to look for are fixer-uppers and quick sale or distressed properties.

Older, up and coming neighborhoods also tend to be good areas to consider if you want to profit from the property flipping trend. This means that buyers are able to invest in older properties, upgrade these and sell them for a profit.

If you are thinking about getting into the house-flipping trend and want to make it a profitable venture, then consider these 5 top tips:
1. Buy smart
Always do your homework and ensure you buy smart. Investing in property is a costly exercise, especially if your finances are tight. Even if you are flush with cash, you would still want to exercise caution and ensure you understand the area and market that you are investing in. Be sure that there is a demand for the type of upgrades or renovations that you are planning as it does not pay to overcapitalize.

2. Understand the market
It is important to have a good understanding of whether there is a demand for the type of remodeling or upgrading that you are planning. While a smart investor will create the need for his/her property, you are often unfortunately guided by what buyers want and what they are prepared to pay. This means that you need to research the area and market thoroughly and ensure that your plans, asking price and profit expectation match the current market.

3. Start with the end price in mind
Always start with the end price that you may be able to sell your property for in mind. That is, the price right now that you could get in the market given the economic and market cycle. Also be sure to price in line with what the market will pay. Often, investors will overspend on the upgrade of their investment property and then price it at the top end of the market. Top end buyers tend to be few and far between and can be quite discerning and will not pay an inflated price regardless of how fabulous the upgrades are.

4. Renovation costs
Most renovators will tell you that it is almost inevitable that your planned renovations or upgrades will turn out to cost more than initially anticipated. Nonetheless, there are many examples of well-budgeted and planned renovations that have turned older homes and complexes into trendy spaces that have not only attracted buyers, but contributed to upgrading the area.

5. Economic climate and property cycle
Generally, house flipping relies on a strong property market because you would want to get a good price and for this, you need willing buyers and some competition. The economy and property market are cyclical in nature and heavily sentiment driven. This is something that we see right now.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.

Selling your home? Understand the importance of various Home Inspections

Home Inspections – Understand their Importance

If you are selling your home it is very important that you understand how important various home inspections are.

Bucks County Home Downsizing

Home Selling Tips PA NJIf you are planning on selling your home, you can count on a qualified buyer spending money out of their own pocket to have an independent third party conduct a home inspection. This is a virtual certainty in today’s market. For a seller, this can be an extremely stressful time. Let’s face it, as sellers we all think our home is just fine. We’ve live there a long time and often overlook small seemingly insignificant things as we go about our lives. However, you can count on a home inspector to find just about everything wrong with your home. They will generate a report often 40 pages in length with pictures to document their discoveries. Often times this is where a seller can become insulted and frustrated and a buyer can begin to have second thoughts. Having a strategy in place and remaining calm is very important.

That’s not all…in addition to a home inspection, your local municipality may also require very specific inspections on things like chimney, fire places, septic systems, smoke detectors, carbon detectors, building permits for work that was done on your home, sidewalks and more. So, getting an understanding of what the process is and how to prepare for it is very important.

This is part of a continuing series of articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers, who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in real estate, property management, home content downsizing and estate sale services.

Selling a home can be a stressful experience for most homeowners. When it comes to home inspections, most homeowners are not used to having a stranger peer into their attic, open every cupboard and closet or test every appliance. For some, this stress can turn into a major nightmare.

While most sellers look at inspectors as the bearers of only bad news, there are some positive factors. Often times, in today’s market, sellers contract with a home inspector to conduct an audit prior to putting their house on the market. Home Inspectors can give sellers the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition. Home inspections can ensure a smooth transaction and assist sellers in receiving the asking price. Maintaining your cool, as a seller is a must. Here are three tips for navigating the home inspection process:

1. Be prepared for the inevitable.
When the home inspector comes through and begins pointing out flaws, many homeowners take the comments personally. This is why it’s important to make sure that your house ready for inspection. Before the inspection process, it can be helpful to do a walk-through of the home yourself and note potential issues. By taking a really hard look at your home prior to putting it on the market will reduce the shock when the inspector points them out, and it will give them the opportunity to fix it preemptively.

2. Be proactive.
Before the inspector arrives, as a seller, you will want to decide if you want to be in the house during the inspection. You can count on the buyers being present during the inspection, which can take several hours. It can be very helpful for a seller to be prepared to answer questions that the inspector may have such as repairs, stains, leaks and other commonly asked buyer and inspector questions. This can help alleviate any tense or awkward moments.

3. Remain calm and focus on your goal.
When the time comes for the actual inspection process, sellers should be reminded that the home inspector is simply doing his or her job. It is important for all parties to remember this especially when the inspector comments on the improper installation of their favorite fixture. If the buyers are present during the inspection it is very important for the sellers to understand that often times the home inspection, with all the emotions that may be associated with it can terminate a deal. Every seller thinks their house is a castle and every seller wants price concessions or repairs for often even the smallest home inspection identified issues. It is important for sellers to take the emotion out of the situation. Sellers should be reminded to keep their eye on the bigger picture, which is their goal of selling their home in the first place and getting the best return on their investment and finding a new home.

Lastly, sellers should be made aware that a home inspection is just the first step. Often times local townships also require a certificate of occupancy inspection. C of O inspections often focus on safety issues ranging from sidewalks, steps, railings, smoke detectors, carbon detectors, septic tanks, chimneys, heating ventilation systems and will also check to see if proper permits were taken out for work done on this house. If a buyer is financing the purchase with an FHA or VA mortgage there will be additional inspections, so having a sellers house in order is critical to any deal to move forward towards settlement. Additionally, FHA and VA backed mortgages require the seller make the necessary repairs to a home prior to mortgage approval and settlement.

For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with Every Home Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.