Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Book Club and Aging in Place

I recently saw the movie "The Book Club" and it was hysterical.  Although meant as a comedy there were also some insightful reflections on the aging process as brought out by the stages of four adult women who got together since college days, baby booming and now through to the early retirement stage for their monthly Bookclub.  One of the characters, Diane recently lost her husband and had two grown millennial daughters who lived out of state.  They worried constantly about her safety and encouraged her to leave her comfortable home and lifestyle in Southern California to move nearby to them in the Scottsdale Arizona area.  Although well intended this was not what Diane aspired to and would have preferred to continue living independently in her California home.  That being said I am not going to write much more about the movie other than to say that often Millenial's think they know what is best and may force a situation that really is not what the "Adult" in the family wants.  Often it is better to allow one to remain independent and to stay in their home until it is their decision to move on or downsize.

Of course as we age safety measures may change based on physical ability.  When we have young children it is important for example to have child safety locks to prevent unwanted access to dangerous tools or hazards.  On the other extreme there are safety measures that should be considered as one ages to safely stay in place. The NYT recently had an article on such safety measures which should be considered. click here.

A recently published book “Age in Place: A Guide to Modifying, Organizing, and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home,” by Lynda G. Shrager, may be worth picking up as a guide to help a loved one begin this process if the goal is to stay put.  For those with out of state parents there are professionals who can help orchestrate this process to help declutter and make necessary recommendations for safety modifications to an existing home.

If you are into technology, there are now Robots available to help monitor health and even offer companionship to an elder who may be living alone.  Of course,  a digital companion cannot provide empathy or physical help one but they can help monitor vital statistics and send an alarm to medical services when intervention may be required. 

If you live in Massachusetts there are some very helpful options for those living alone.  MassOptions is a resource that provides a network of services available for both elder and disabled residents who wish to bring help into their home.  If you live in Norfolk County there is a service called Are You OK?  Registered seniors will get a daily phone call from the Norfolk County Sheriff's office to ensure the senior is safe.  

There are many resources available to allow seniors to age in place.  Often seniors don't like to ask for help so it may be helpful for those who are worried to do some homework and make a list of services and resources available.  When the older relative is ready for help they will indicate this by their behavior but perhaps you can proactively engage and make recommendations to ensure safety ahead of time.  

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Needham, Mass.  She also works with buyers and sellers on the lower Cape during the summer months.  Since earning her SRES, she has been networking and learning about available resources to help her more mature clients.  She is always happy to chat and make recommendations to help baby boomers and their aging parents.  She can be found at or on facebook  @wendybcb.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How to get rid of your stuff-garage sale?

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale
Its spring time and most of us feel inspired to do some spring cleaning.   Previously I have posted several blog posts about decluttering and downsizing.  I am now going to share some ideas on how to actually get rid of your "stuff".  One has the choice of giving things away, donating them or selling them.  The first two options are a great way to repurpose your treasures by sharing them with either someone who will appreciate them or possibly have a need for items they otherwise may not be able to purchase.

There are several methods available if you are considering the option of selling your things.  If you have a lot of time you may consider selling things online on sites such as Ebay or Craigslist.  If you are a facebook user many areas have Marketplace sections where you can also sell items.  These sites require you to take a photo of the item, write a description and post a price.  You have the option of shipping (you can charge the shipping fee) or arrange for pick up if local.  If you agree to have a local pickup you need to be cautious and may want to meet the purchaser as a mutually agreed upon public space.  For safety purposes I would not recommend welcoming an unknown buyer to your personal home.

I know from experience that the above methods are extremely time consuming and labor intensive.  In addition you need to be readily available to ship an item when there is an interested buyer.

If you decide to go the yard sale route it can be a fun social way to have a one weekend event.  The frequent problem though is that more often than not buyers cherry pick and may leave you with the "junk" you still need to get rid of.  Sometimes you get lucky and it is often true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Many times garage sales have benefited both buyer and seller. If you do decide to go this route below are suggestions to make this effort a success. 

What to Sell
lBecause variety is the spice of life, garage sale shoppers prefer sales that feature a little bit of everything. If you have nothing but used clothing and toys to sell, wait until you can pull together a few more items.  When deciding what to sell, never underestimate the value for absolute junk. One of my neighbors last year was selling used Tupperware containers.  Although shocked they are great for artists to use to paint or store supplies.  If you haven’t used something in the past year, put it up for sale.  lSince dealers and antique collectors frequent garage sales, proudly display one-of-a-kind items.  Buyers look for household items such as dressers, bookcases, baskets, tables, toys, and tools. If you do decide to sell appliances, make sure they work or if they note, include a receipt saying you are selling it for the parts.  You don't want to have the buyer return it because it didn't work. You may want to. have an outlet for buyers to test a TV set before buying it.

How to Price
Be sure to label and put price tags on items. Customers may assume that unmarked items are out of their price range. Part of the fun of a yard sale is that buyers want to get a "good" deal.  Be prepared to haggle. Price things higher than the price you really want for it so you can accept discounted offers.   Most garage sale enthusiasts love to negotiate but if you are selling something that you value it’s okay to say, “I’m firm on that price.”  Price things you want to move fairly.  It is common to sell items at a 10-30% discount from retail. 

How to Display
Presentation is important.  Be sure everything looks clean and if dishes sparkling.  Larger items bring the most foot traffic. If you sell a couch or table early in the day, ask if you can keep the item with a “sold” sign on it until the end of the day.
Keep things organized.  Clothing on racks sells higher than similar items thrown on a blanket. If possible, hang a line in your garage or buy a portable rack. People who dig through boxes expect to pay much less for those items.
Clearly mark your sales area or buyers may try to buy items you hadn't intended to sell. If you have a sale in your garage, cover the lawn mower, shovels, and rakes.
Attract attention with eye-catching balloons and signs.

How to Publicize
Use social media and if practical you may want to place an ad in a local newspaper.  Also it is a good idea to put posters around town and post at local community areas at strategic locations, directing traffic to your neighborhood, street, and house.  When the sale is complete don’t forget to take them dow.

When to Sell
Yard sales attract the most customers when the weather is nice.  Be sure to check the weather forecast before planning your sale.  Spring and fall are often good times to sell.  Saturday is often the best day for a yard or garage sale, though this varies regionally. In some places, people tend to favor Thursday or Friday sales. If you are new to an area, ask around to see which days are the most popular for sales.

What to Do with Leftovers

At the end of your sale you may have many items left.  You can decide if you want to donate these or store them away for a future sale.  If you decide to donate be sure to arrange to get a donation receipt as you may be able to get a donation benefit.  Again remember that one person's junk may be another person's treasure.

Clean and enjoy the new found space you have once you reorganize after the sale.  Feel proud that you were able to purge whatever you did.

If you need advise or ideas on how to get rid of your things feel free to reach out to me.  I have a great network of people who specialize in helping with the downsizing and process of asset liquidation.  

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham,  She has her SRES and specializes in helping clients with the downsizing process.  You can read more about her at her website.