Q What do all of these various services cost?
A There is NO cost for any consultation, whether it is an initial meeting or any number of follow up phone calls, emails, texts or even additional face to face meetings. Once you are comfortable that you know all of the available options, specific and guaranteed up front pricing will be provided. Also, some services are free and some of our service providers will even help pay for other services when there is a need. You are never under any obligation to use any recommended service provider.
Q I don’t want to move, ever! What can you do to help me?
A Perhaps, like many folks, you have accumulated too many belongings over the years and just by “de-cluttering” your living space you would remove trip hazards and make it easier to keep your home as neat and clean as you would like. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed.
If your home needs modifications to make it safer or more convenient, we have a CAPS contractor. CAPS is an acronym for the national Certified Aging in Place Specialist designation. These contractors have special training IN ADDITION to being licensed general contractors in California, so that they know how to modify your home the right way. Whether it’s a walk in tub, or an access ramp, or lowered kitchen counters or any of a hundred other things, a CAPS contractor can often transform your home so you never have to move.
If your home is safe and convenient but you are challenged by still having a mortgage payment, a HECM mortgage via FHA can often be a lifesaver. By paying off your existing mortgage and deferring payments on the new mortgage until the last owner passes or moves out of the home permanently, money is freed up every month to allow you to remain in your home for many years to come. The home remains in your name and will remain part of your eventual estate.
Or perhaps you need some help with meals or other tasks and chores a few days a week. We have professional services that are licensed, bonded, kind and caring and they can be a big help in so many ways, allowing you to remain independent for a long, long time.
Q I am considering downsizing but haven’t made up my mind. How long do people usually “think about it” before moving?
A Some take longer than others but our experience has been that people take a minimum of 8-12 months to make an emotional move. The emotional move takes place in one’s mind. Once that emotional move has been made, a physical move can often occur within 30-45 days or even sooner.
Q What if my kids live out of state and I need help moving?
A Hiring a professional move manager is the ideal solution for people in this situation. A Realtor who is an accredited Senior Residential Specialist can recommend qualified organizers and move managers and sometimes they even help pay for that service in order to prepare the home for the market in a timely fashion.
Q Where do I start with sorting my possessions?
A Sorting can seem overwhelming at first glance, so we recommend you begin with one room, closet or dresser. Only look for items that you will be taking with you. If you open a drawer or cupboard and say “I don’t want any of that,” then close that up and just move on. A common misconception is that every nook and cranny needs to be gone through. Often, estate sale companies will allow you to take a last minute scan of items you may have overlooked during the move while they are setting up for the sale. As you sort, segregate items to be moved with you from those to be sold, by leaving the ones to be sold right where they are! Use sticky notes to label furniture, closets, cabinets and other areas, “sell,” “move,” “donate,” “family to take,” etc. See more tips in Step 4 of this workbook.
Q Doesn’t a home show better with furniture?
A This is a common question asked by people who are trying to decide whether they should move before or after their house sells. Every real estate professional will have an opinion on this matter. Regardless of how the house looks, furnished or unfurnished, there are other more important factors. Safety and convenience are primary considerations and good reasons to go ahead and move prior to placing your home on the market. Time and stress also factor into the decision. When the home sells, there might be as few as three weeks to as many as six weeks to make your move and liquidate the remaining personal property. Trying to manage all the details in a short time frame can be overwhelming. Thus, moving prior to the sale is preferable.
Q What do Realtors charge?
A REALTORS typically charge a commission which is based on a percentage of the home’s sales price – usually 5-7%, with 6% being the most common. Each associate negotiates a fee based on the services offered and the property being sold. By law in California, agents and brokers are prohibited from charging any up front fees, so beware of any who try. The Senior Residential Specialist designation (SRES) is a specialty that is earned through the National Association of Realtors through additional study and passing a rigorous exam and selecting an SRES helps to assure that you are dealing with someone who knows and understands the special challenges of a senior move, both emotionally and physically. Also, many SRES agents and brokers will include added-on value services in their fees, such as downsizing assistance or moving expenses, so look for that help and don’t hesitate to ask.
Q What do Estate Sale companies charge for their services?
A Estate Sale companies vary in their fees. Many base their fee on the projected gross sales expected to be collected. For instance, if a car is included in the sale, they may reduce their fee percentage due to the increased proceeds anticipated by selling the car. It may also depend on whether the sale is held on site (in your home) or if they are required to move your items to another location to sell. The typical fee percentage ranges from 25% to 35%, with more experienced and upscale liquidators often charging more.
Q What if the Realtor recommends I move before selling, but I need the equity from my home for moving expenses?
A Many homeowners use the equity in their home to pay for their next house, for a Senior living community entrance fee, and/or for moving expenses. If their move needs to be scheduled prior to closing the sale of their home, temporary financing can be an option. Banks, credit unions or mortgage lenders can provide loans which allow use of equity in a current home to finance the move to another home or senior living community. Once the home is sold, proceeds from the sale are applied to pay off the loan. Since many senior living communities will “work with” prospective residents when circumstances result in this type of delayed asset transfer, a mortgage loan should be reserved as a last resort for temporary financing.
Q What if my home needs repairs and/or improvements made before it is sold? Where do I start? Can I sell it “as-is?”
A It can be advantageous to make needed repairs and home improvements before placing a home on the market. This increases the appeal to prospective buyers and can many times have a net financial benefit for the seller by getting the home sold faster and for a higher price than otherwise would happen. Also, even when a sale is advertised as being “as-is,” quite often appraisers, lenders and home inspectors will call for repairs to be done in order for a home sale to close, so better to get them done up front to get the benefits. Often these repairs can be done and payment for them deferred until the sale is closing and payment be deducted from the proceeds of the sale. An experienced Realtor, especially one who specializes in Senior moves, will have the knowledge of who to use and what to prioritize when it comes to home repairs and improvements.
Q How many senior living communities should I visit?
A To make sure you are choosing from the best available communities, do your homework! While some cities have a number of senior living options, others are limited to fewer choices. If you are fortunate to have located several options, visit those that appear to fit your preferences. Use the survey and checklists in our Downsizing Made Easy Guide and go comparison shopping. Visit your top choices more than once, at different times of the day, and remember to review the tips prepared for you in the guide.
Q I need to move to assisted living but it is very expensive. Are there any resources to help cover the cost?
A Assisted living communities provide various levels of care, some of which may be covered by certain long term care insurance policies. If you have this type of insurance, contact your carrier in advance and be sure the benefits will apply at this time. Their guidelines are quite specific, so don’t leave it to chance. There is very little government help for assisted living with the possible exception for military veterans who meet very specific criteria for dates of service and amount of assets. California does have assistance through MediCal, however there are very strict rules regarding who qualifies, so you will need to be certain in advance of how you match up with their guidelines.
Q Why should I hire a REALTOR who specializes in working with seniors, especially one with the SRES designation, instead of my friend from church, my past agent, my neighbor or my daughter’s best friend?
A This particular move – a downsizing move – is likely unlike any other move you have made in your lifetime. In face, depending on market and economic circumstances (whether it is a “buyer’s market” or a “seller’s market”) it is more critical now than ever that you choose a trained Realtor possessing high level sales experience, superior knowledge and excellent negotiation skills that the average agent may not possess. Remember, your downsizing move involves a rather extensive set of unique components, requiring highly specialized professionals to assist you in several dissimilar areas. You will require the best negotiator and people manager available if you want your transition to be as trouble free as possible.