A home is full of memories. Deciding on what to keep and what to do with everything else when downsizing a home can bring back cherished memories that may keep you from decluttering.
You can rent a storage unit to hold it all, but that can get expensive. Consider this: if you’re storing something, what’s the likelihood you’ll pick it back up again? Don’t hoard all of your household items just to keep them locked away in storage.
Here are some tips for deciding what to keep and what to give away when downsizing a home:
Sentimental items. Everyone has sentimental keepsakes: a child’s handprint on a school painting, a ring from a grandmother, a favorite childhood toy, etc. The key when downsizing is deciding what’s most important to you, what another family member might enjoy having and what really isn’t all that valuable and needs to go.
You don’t need to keep every scrap of paper from your kid’s childhood, but you can frame a few drawings instead of storing them all in the closet never to be seen again. Or, maybe your son or daughter wants to keep a few things to show their children.
Try to keep items that have a strong sentimental value to you, and get rid of repetitive things. The less you have, the easier it will be to make the transition to a smaller home.
Documents. You don’t need old receipts and other irrelevant papers that are crumpled throughout the house. Only keep paperwork or documentation that you may need in the future. These include your will, passport, any birth or death certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, property deeds, vehicle titles, diplomas, medical records and military service documents. Carefully store these away and always scan them into your computer as a backup in case they’re lost or destroyed during a natural disaster.
Small furniture. Functional furniture that fits in small areas or has a double purpose can be a great thing to take with you when downsizing a home. A bed that can fold up into a couch can be useful, as can an ottoman with storage or a foldable table that can be put away easily.
Things you rarely use. Chances are that you’ve kept plenty of useless items out of laziness. Things that have sat unused on shelves or forgotten in closets for years. Downsizing is the time to get rid of them.
These can include old magazines and books you’ve been meaning to read; news clippings; old electronics or kitchen appliances that are rarely used; DVDs, outdated clothes; old spices; toys with missing pieces; and everything in your junk drawer.
Separate items into piles that can be sold or donated. If they’re not in good enough condition, throw them away. Your future home will thank you for it.
Your home is your castle. Sometimes, however, it can feel a little less regal than you’d like it to.
Outdated fixtures or not having enough space or light, among other things, can make a home feel tired and old. For about $100 or less, many features of a home can be improved to help add value to a home when selling it.
You won’t be able to expand the dining room on the cheap, but there are some simple improvements that can spruce up a house cheaply and quickly:
Start in the kitchen, which is one of the first areas home buyers look at. Replace the kitchen sink faucet, replace cabinet door handles or install a new sink if you can find a deal on one.
Bathroom fixtures such as towel racks and toilet paper holders can be easily replaced, and a new toilet seat is cheap.
Replace old lights with a ceiling fan/light combo, or install a nice chandelier in the dining room, for example. These can cost $300 or so, but if you only need to make one change, this is the one that can pay off.
Old homes often don’t have much closet space. Buy $100 worth of wire shelves and install them yourself and you’ve got a closet that at least makes the space look organized.
Check leaks and electrical
Hire a plumber or electrician for an hour to check your electrical services and plumbing. They can make sure everything is safe and working properly so that a potential buyer doesn’t find a leaking faucet or broken light switch or faulty outlet.
Buying new carpet can be expensive, but an area rug can be just enough to cover an area showing serious wear. Even if you can afford it, installing wall-to-wall carpeting before selling your house isn’t recommended by most real estate agents because the new owners may want to choose their own style.
You can get your carpet professionally cleaned for a few hundred dollars, or maybe less if you can find a coupon. If your carpet is in good shape, a professional cleaning may be all it needs to look in top shape.
Plant flowers, mow the lawn, pull weeds and sweep the walkway in front of your house. It will give viewers a strong first impression and can be done for much less than $100.
If all of that doesn’t work, bake cookies at home on the day of the home showing.
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Buying a home is likely the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. From the down payment to moving costs and insurance, the entire process is likely to take a large bite out of your bank account. That’s why it’ll pay to try and cut costs during the process wherever you can, and one expense you could save on is the closing costs.
Closing, or settlement, costs are expenses over and above the price of the property. Both the buyer and seller incur some of these expenses when transferring ownership of a property. Who actually pays, however, often depends on local custom and what the buyer or seller negotiates.
Closing costs typically range between 2 and 5 percent of the total home purchase price, which adds up to thousands of dollars. These costs normally cover title insurance, loan points, escrow or closing day charges, property taxes and document fees, among other expenses.
So, how can you save on closing costs? Below are five quick tips:
1. Haggle with the seller. He or she may be willing to pay all or part of the closing costs. A real estate agent can help negotiate and will work hard for you.
2. Nab a no-point loan. You may have to pay a higher interest rate, but if you are strapped for cash and can qualify for a higher interest rate, you may find this type of loan can significantly reduce your closing costs.
3. Grab a no-fee loan. Although the fee is usually wrapped into a higher rate loan, it does offer one advantage–you get to save on the amount of cash you would need up-front.
4. Secure seller financing. These loans typically avoid the traditional fees or charges imposed by lenders.
5. Shop ’til you drop for the best deal. Every lender has its own unique fee structure; you are bound to find one that works for you.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.
Homeowners insurance is supposed to cover catastrophes such as fires, hurricanes and a tree falling through the roof. But there are some much lesser problems that a typical insurance policy can cover.
Here are some of the surprising things covered by many home insurance policies. Check with your insurer first to see if you’re covered for them:
Riot: Called a “civil commotion” by insurers, riots can include vandalism, fire and explosions, which are normally covered by home insurance. Having a state of emergency declared in your area because of rioting could make it easier to file a claim, as could a police report on damage to your home.
Volcano: If your home is in the path of an erupting volcano, your home is covered. Earthquake damage, however, isn’t covered by most standard policies.
Dog bite: Up to $300,000 in medical care may be covered if your dog bites someone. Other claims, such as for pain and suffering in a civil lawsuit, may only be covered up to a certain amount or may require additional coverage.
Spoiled food: If a storm caused your power to go out and the food in your refrigerator is spoiled, your homeowners insurance should cover the cost of replacing the food. However, check if you’ll have to pay a deductible first and if it’s low enough to make filing a claim worthwhile.
Items stolen on vacation: Your belongings should be covered wherever you go by a homeowners policy, including on vacation under an “off-premises” provision. Had your laptop stolen in Lithuania? You should be covered. For more expensive items, such as a wedding ring, you may need to buy an additional rider to cover it.
Dorm theft: Just as your belongings are likely covered when you’re on vacation, so are your child’s things at college — up to a point. A dorm room on campus may be covered by your homeowners policy, but off-campus housing may not be. The liability limits on a student’s belongings may be lower, so an expensive computer or bike may need to also be covered by renter’s insurance.
Gazebo: Your home is covered, and so is your entire property. This can include structures such as gazebos, storage sheds and patios. Tell your insurance company that you have such structures, and provide photos and other documentation such as work orders to show they exist and how much they cost.
Feel free to contact me for more real estate tips.