Downsizing can be a big chore after a lifetime of accumulating memorabilia and artifacts. Fortunately, in retirement you have the time to do this methodically over a couple of weeks or months. Begin by separating out the easier to part with items. You probably already have a list in your head of items in the garage and kitchen that you’re willing to let go of. You likely also have at least a partial list of items you want your children, grandchildren, and others to have. These are good lists to start pulling things together.

Move on to rooms with less emotional attachment and rooms that you won’t have in your new home. Most people aren’t too emotionally attached to the laundry room and you may soon have to do without a 4th or 3rd bedroom and basement. A good rule of thumb is only separating things into “keep” or “let go” piles. A “maybe” pile will drag out the process by making you think it through more than once. The exception for having a third pile could be a pile of what you will sell or donate.

But take the time to give each item a moment of your attention. You’ll quickly find you develop a logic to making the decision. Go through each room one at a time. You may find you have a different decision process for each room. You’ll also avoid regrets by giving everything at least a moment of thought.

Items that are easier to get rid of include duplicates and things you haven’t used in a few years or rarely use. That oversized roasting pan that you only use at Christmas might go to a grandchild who can bring it over once a year.

People have collections they find difficult to let go of. Photo albums can be digitized. You can select a few favorite Hummel figurines to keep and sell the rest for a nice roll of dollars. Family members might be interested in at least part of your collection or maybe you can divide it among several relatives.

Be sure your family knows that a big part of your downsizing means letting go of your treasures. Ask them to tell you what they want. Giving away some difficult to part with treasures can still bring you happiness. Giving your son the grandfather clock means you can see him enjoy it now and you can still enjoy it when you visit. You may also learn you have things you didn’t think anyone would want but your granddaughter actually does want your old sewing basket. Pick a weekend to invite the family over for a day to show them what you are letting go and tell a few stories behind your fondest possessions.

One reason to start downsizing early is to give yourself time to reminisce. There’s a reason you’ve saved this stuff all of these years, even if you haven’t looked at it for a long time. Now you have the time and reason to enjoy it again.

Investment properties can be a huge profitable venture. Many options to consider, and with an experienced Realtor, will increase your final investment dollars.

Want to buy an investment property? Refinance or renovate an existing home? Found a property you love but the renovations could be a nightmare?

I’ve been helping buyers and sellers for 20 years, and many of my clients are lifetime customers that have grown their future equity “portfolio” with my creative ideas and assistance one property at a time.

Myth #1: There is a lot of paperwork for the 203k loan.

Let’s be honest with each other, there is a lot of paperwork involved when getting a mortgage… period. No matter what type of loan you will be asked to provide required paperwork and additional information the lender asks for. There is additional paperwork needed for the 203k loan but is it mounds and mounds more? No, not at all.

Myth #2: Sellers won’t accept that kind of financing.

Many sellers and realtors believe that they will not be paid until the renovation project has been completed. However, this is untrue. All the renovation/upgrade work is done after closing when both the seller and realtor are paid.

In fact, it can benefit a stubborn seller or help sell a bank owned property because the home is sold “as-is” meaning, repairs don’t need to be made prior to the closing of the sale. Not even a conventional loan can offer that, with a conventional loan any health or safety violation of any kind must be fixed prior to closing.

Myth #3 Only FHA approved contractors can be used.

FHA approved contractors are not a real thing. The FHA does not have a list of contractors you must use or a list of those who you can’t. It’s true, you may come across contractors that advertise their experience with 203k but that does not make them a preferred or approved FHA or similar lender contractor. Hiring a contractor who has gone through the process of a 203k is a good idea because he or she is familiar and can help talk through things. But most 203K qualified Mortgage lenders may have their own network of choice of contractors.

Myth #4: FHA 203k loans are only for homes needing major repairs.

Almost all homes qualify for 203k financing except for homes built within the last 12 months. Homes in need of major work and homes with minor changes- like new cabinets or interior paint can qualify. In fact, the 203k Loan is a great solution as a refinance for properties which don’t have a lot of equity in them.

Myth #5: It takes several months to close a 203k Loan.

The process to close a 203k Loan should not take any longer than 45-60 days. If you are working with an inexperienced lender, the FHA 203k or any other kind of a home loan can be a long, drawn out process. However, if you are working with an experienced 203k team and both the homebuyer and realtor do what is required the 203k will run smoothly. If you are considering a 203k Loan, be sure to have a consultation with your mortgage banker at the start to ensure everyone is on the same page!

One of my partners, “AnnieMac Home Mortgage” will give you the widest range of options and the best customer service available in the home lending industry.

Before you put your house on the market, ask me for guidance on improving your home’s presentation. I can tell you what buyers expect in your particular market and at your home’s price point. The following 10 steps are a way to get a good head start on preparing to sell your home.

1. Welcome buyers. Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers. Paint the door, clear debris and clutter from the walkway and yard, mow the lawn and prune hedges. Pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to attract attention from the street. Fix broken screens, doorbells, roof tiles, shingles and outdoor lighting, and replace your doormat. Exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers.

2. Make it sparkle. Cleanliness implies a home has been well taken care of, so deep cleaning can win points with buyers. Buyers scrutinize homes, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Recaulk and repaint to give these grime-prone rooms a fresh and clean look. Clean rugs and carpets to eliminate unsightly stains or dinginess and eliminate odors. Tidy each room, including cabinets, closets and the garage, before showing. And if it seems daunting to do all that cleaning yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning company to take care of all of it for you.

3. Start packing. Cramped and cluttered rooms turn buyers off and make your house look smaller. A home packed with your personal belongings also makes it difficult for others to envision living there. Start by storing away excess furniture, toys and personal decorations, such as family photos. Pack up things you don’t use on a daily basis, and put them in storage or ask a friend to hold onto them. Decluttering your house also gives you a head start on your move.

4. Paint wisely. A well-done, no-frills paint job is all you need. Put a fresh coat of paint on white or beige walls, and repaint walls that have eccentric or unconventional colors. Nature- and spa-inspired neutral colors, such as taupe and subtle gray, are the best choices. Definitely don’t forget the trim and molding either. And a fresh paint job on outdated or worn cabinetry goes a long way, too.

5. Fix the small stuff. Repair or replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. You can install new door handles, faucets, towel bars and curtain rods – fixtures that are readily visible to homebuyers – rather inexpensively. New hardware in the bathroom, kitchen and on windows and doors also improves the functionality and safety of these components.

6. Update lighting. Replace decorative light fixtures that no longer fit your home’s cleaner, fresher look. Install new bulbs with the appropriate lighting for specific areas of your home. For example, ambient, low-key lighting fills a room, whereas directional or task lighting works better in areas like a reading nook. Use accent lighting to highlight focal points in a room, such as the artwork above a mantle, to draw buyers’ attention to certain selling points.

7. Frame windows. Ensure you have the right window treatments, which enhance natural brightness and boost the appearance of a home. Window treatments also can impact a room’s temperature because they reduce or increase the amount of light entering the space. Adjust window treatments appropriately when showing your home in the mornings, afternoon and evenings.

8. Set the table. Fresh, decorative flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. Also, keep place settings handy for your tables so you can quickly set them out right before showings or an open house. Pull out all the formal stops for a dining room, and keep the table casual in the kitchen.

9. Hide unsightly everyday items. Don’t leave children’s toys and pet belongings out in the open during showings and open houses. Move litter boxes, pet dishes, toys, animal crates and kids’ entertainment to less conspicuous areas of the home, such as an outdoor storage unit or garage before each showing or open house. Also think about where you can store things like dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.

10. Don’t forget the back. Keep your backyard looking spacious and functional. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after your pets so buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.

Here are 10 things to consider

Be aware that some properties just aren’t worth the price. Here’s what to watch out for

Buyers looking for a fixer-upper? Here are 10 things to consider

I’ve done these projects many, many times. I’m receiving feed back that many buyers prefer the ease and convenience of a fully turnkey property, but occasionally you may get a buyer who is looking for a bargain and is willing to put in some sweat equity to make it work. While this can be a great idea for a skilled Do it your self, some properties are just too far gone for a casual home makeover. 

Here are 10 things that you should tread carefully when shopping for a

Key Take away’s Kitchen and bathroom (37 percent), other interior remodels (23 percent) and additions (21 percent) were the most popular renovations homeowners took on this year.

Fifty-two percent of first-time applicants knew they needed a permit, while five percent of first-time applicants had never heard of a permit.

The average permit costs $500 or less and takes two to four weeks to obtain.

1. As-is listing

While an AS IS listing, isn’t in and of itself, a no-go, it does indicate that the seller may be aware of some necessary repairs and or updates and is unwilling or unable to complete them. EXTREMELY CRUCIAL! Ensure that you do a thorough to try to identify the elements in need of repair and determine whether your buyer is able and willing to take them on.

In the case of bank-owned properties, you may find that the home is listed as-is because the bank is not in a position to speak to its condition. Again, as-is doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but should definitely prompt thorough investigation. Be on guard, some of these deals are corporate owned, and already purchased from the bank and just want to dump them.

2. Bad roof

Since a bad roof isn’t usually a DIY type of project, a roof repair should be cause for concern. Even if your buyer is willing to have the shingles replaced, a roof in poor condition can be the cause of major leaks that could affect the structural underpinnings, interior ceilings and other areas of the home. Moisture intrusion can result in dangerous mold, and costing thousands more to remediate.

3. Wall cracks

Not all wall cracks automatically indicate a foundation problem — but some do. Generally, the wider the cracks, the more problematic, while cracks in concrete walls are often serious indicators of structural deficiencies. In addition, long cracks along the margins between interior walls and upstairs ceilings can indicate roof truss issues, which can be quite serious — and costly.

4. Deferred maintenance

If the house has been unoccupied for a long time — either because of a foreclosure or because the previous owners were unable to sell in a timely manner — there will generally be a certain amount of deferred maintenance. Over time, this can add up and create significant repair issues.  Make certain you can complete this project in a 12 month window.

In addition, if a house has not been properly heated or cooled because it was standing empty, the new owner may face some unexpected repair issues once they are occupying it.

5. Window unit air-conditioning

Wow, this is a serious, problematic challenge. If a house does not have central air, your buyer may believe that they can add it for the cost of a new HVAC unit. However, the pitch of the roof may inhibit installation, they’ll also need to factor in the cost of duct work, registers and other system elements that will be required for the installation. Make sure that they get some estimates from well-qualified HVAC installers during the home inspection process.

6. Moisture and mildew smell

Even if you don’t see water damage, a strong smell of mustiness and mildew is an indicator that there is hidden water seeping in from outside or leaking from the current plumbing system. This can indicate a small intrusion — like a leaky window frame, for instance — or a major moisture problem like a prone-to-flooding basement. 7. Bad floor plan

It’s one thing to switch out light fixtures or change the tile in the foyer. A bad floor plan, however, is something that most weekend warriors can’t tackle on their own. If your buyer hates the flow of a home but thinks that a new paint color or some updated fixtures will make things better, please think again. An experienced Realtor may be your savior, we’re not all bad guys.

8. Outdated plumbing or wiring

Your buyers may think that updating the plumbing in a home stops with a new kitchen faucet and that updating the electrical means a new light fixture. However, an outdated plumbing or electrical system is a big job requiring the skill and training of an experienced plumber or electrician. 

Talk to your home inspector about the materials the pipes are made of and the condition of the electrical system. Sub-par materials or amateur installation should generally serve as deal-breakers for your buyers.

9. Ugly bathrooms or kitchen

It’s easy to fall in love with a house “except for” an out-of-date kitchen or an ugly bathroom. However, these are among the most expensive remodeling projects, even for skillful DIYers. 

Living without a kitchen for what could be weeks or months on end, or without one or more of the home’s bathrooms, can create major inconveniences that make the new home experience awkward and even unbearable. Believe me, this has happened to me more than once!

10. Bad grading

A poorly graded property can result in extensive water intrusion and make it difficult to keep the basement dry. In addition, amateur fixes can make the problem worse, introducing termites and other pests into the home’s siding or foundation. These signs can easily be hidden with a power washer and then you end up with compromised walls, ceilings, rafters etc.

If you see standing water or excessive dampness in the landscaping close to the home, discuss the need for interventions with your home inspector or a trusted landscaper and determine whether bad grading can be corrected simply or will require the installation of drains and other diversions.