Increase your home’s appeal for yourself or for buyers on the market with these organizational tips.
Decide what’s working in your home and what’s not.
Take stock of items in your home and how they are organized. What spaces work for you, and which ones feel overwhelming or inconvenient? Do you have too many items stored in a space that is too small? Go room by room and evaluate your closets and drawers. Ask yourself, “what do I like about this current organizational set-up? What should change?” Take notes.
Come up with a plan
After evaluating your current system, come up with a new plan. Get rid of items that you no longer need or have space to keep—remember, the fewer things you have, the less time and space you will need to keep them nice. After decluttering, organize your items using bins, shelves, racks, or other systems for separation. Your system will work best if the objects you use most are easy to access without bending or reaching.
Take a “step-by-step” approach
Avoid burnout by breaking up tasks and starting small. For example, you could start with a closet that you can reorganize in a day, or you could sort through old clothes to give to charity. Once you are done, take a break before moving on to the next project.
Ask for help
Some labor-intensive tasks are hard to do alone. When needed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Larger projects likely require the help of family, community members, or hired professionals. Talk with people in your network, including your SRES® professional, for recommendations for qualified professional organizers, cleaners, or movers in your area.
Tips For Getting Rid Of Excess Things
Toss duplicate items:
If you have more sets of work clothes or measuring cups than you need, consider giving away what is extra.
Sort items into four piles:
One for things to keep, one for things to donate, one for things to throw away, and one for valuables to appraise and/ or sell.
Pass on belongings:
If there are items you no longer need, or keepsakes you would like to go to a certain person, gift them personally now.
Anyone who has emptied a loved one's house after a death or a move to a nursing home knows the unique melancholy it brings.
Scraps of paper, a song, or a piece of clothing can all send you down a rabbit hole of memories and bring on waves of grief.
That's some of what Anderson Cooper covers in his new podcast "All There Is." (https://apple.co/3SFbEPA)
The setting for the first episode is his late mother's New York City apartment, where Cooper is packing her things.
The task is daunting. Isn't it always?
His mother was Gloria Vanderbilt, a woman born into incredible wealth who made her mark in the fashion industry with her brand of women's jeans in the 1970s and 1980s. Vanderbilt saved everything, even mundane notes, saying, "I'll be back at 10." Cooper faced plowing through books, journals, thousands of Christmas cards and photos, telegrams from Frank Sinatra, and even the clothing Vanderbilt was wearing -- boxed and labeled -- when another son committed suicide in front of her years earlier.
He likens the process to an archeological dig.
It forces Cooper to face not just his mom's death but also the grief and loss of his brother and his father, who died when Cooper was young decades earlier.
Plus, he realizes he's the last living person in his small family and now the keeper of its memories.
The podcast is poignant and, at times, funny. Cooper sheds light on and articulates what many cope with when sifting through the remnants of a life.
"We don't talk about loss and grief very much, which is odd because they're among the most universal of human experiences. All of us will lose people we love," he says. "And yet, when you're the one grieving, it often feels like you're all alone."
"You're not" is just one of the podcast's takeaways.
The annual Houzz Bathroom research is always a good read, whether you want to make tweaks to be sure your bathroom is keeping up with trends or if you're planning a major renovation.
Here are some highlights from the 2022 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.
The biggest trigger for bathroom renovations is an outdated style. This year, 87% of respondents changed the style of their bathroom, with a transitional look being the top choice (25%). That was followed by contemporary and modern (16% each).
The transitional style has been steadily gaining ground in recent years. In 2018, just 16% chose it, but by 2021,19% opted for it. This year's least popular styles include Mediterranean, Rustic, Craftsman, and Eclectic (all at 2%).
There's also a shift in taste around vanities. Though white is still the leading color (32%), 30% opted for wood.
In addition, the popularity of multicolored countertops slid by four percentage points, with most choosing solid colors, including white (59%), gray (10%), and beige (9%, up by two percentage points).
Other motivators for renovating include:
· Finally having the money to make upgrades (28%)
· Improving resale value (28%)
· Personalizing a recently purchased home (22%)
· Safety or health risk, including removing toxic materials and mold (9%).
In addition, homeowners are budgeting more to upgrade their primary bathrooms, with the median spend rising 13% to $9,000. Spending by homeowners with bigger budgets (the top 10% of project spending) jumped by 17 percent to $35,000 or more.
Forty-one percent of homeowners say they use their newly renovated bathroom as a place to rest and relax. Features contributing to that vibe include cleanliness, a lack of clutter, soaking in the bath, long showers, and natural light.
Premium features that further enhance the space include a rainfall shower head (52%), dual shower (19%), body sprayer (16%), mood lighting (8%), and a soaking tub (71%).
See the complete report at https://bit.ly/3dRU8Jg.
Bankrate's "How do aging-in-place remodels affect a home's value?" (https://bit.ly/3CeAKPT) is worth reading, especially if you're about to renovate your house.
When you weigh what aging-in-place modifications to make, a significant consideration is the effect your changes will have on the resale value of your home.
Will they help or hurt?
To find out, Bankrate talked with certified aging-in-place specialists.
One takeaway: Look to universal design modifications -- hands-free faucets and dimmer switches, for example -- that benefit multiple generations. Those won't hurt resale value.
After all, institutional-style designs and permanent features like exterior metal ramps may make a home less attractive to future buyers.
The other universally appealing modifications that can improve your home's value include a full bathroom on the main floor, lever door handles, smart lighting systems, and doorways at least three feet wide.
Those that detract from resale value include permanent exterior ramps (if you need a ramp, look for a temporary one that can be removed easily), an elevator, and walk-in bathtubs.
Another consideration is money, and the piece outlines the potential cost of incorporating aging-in-place features, including converting a first floor living space into a bedroom and bathroom ($100,000-plus), installing grab bars in a bathroom ($600 to $750), and installing a temporary ramp ($1,500 to $1,800) or a permanent one ($22,000-plus).
For more about universal design principles, see:
· National Association of Homebuilders (https://bit.ly/3SCL5KI)
· The Universal Design Living Laboratory (https://bit.ly/3y2Sc7p)
· The Universal Design Network of Canada (https://bit.ly/3E7EvrJ)
You may already know that voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home can help seniors age in place.
If you’ve been considering a voice assistant for a loved one and wonder how Alexa and other technologies help seniors in real life, consider Madeleine Séguin’s experience.
The 100-year-old living in Bruyère Village, a senior community in Ottawa, maintains a busy social schedule. She was interviewed for a story (https://bit.ly/3FSXVzK), “Conversations with Alexa: How robots are helping Canada’s aging population connect.”
She says Alexa helps her stay organized, track her dinner dates with family and neighbors, and allows her to make calls quickly without having to hunt fora phone number.
Bruyère Village is part of a pilot project with Amazon that’s testing the Alexa Smart Properties solution.
It turns out that seniors there aren’t skittish about trying out new technology, and they’re enjoying it.
Some ways Alexa can improve seniors’ lives include:
Plus, the pilot program is helping to automate jobs – dinner reminders and other announcements, for example – that once were done by a human knocking on residents’ doors.
Robots also can play a role, and they’re being tested at several Toronto senior centers through a program with the University of Toronto.
For example, they can call out bingo numbers, lead exercise groups, and interact with residents, especially since they’re human-like and can smile, laugh, and change their facial features. During meals, for example, some residents interacted with robots like they would with other human beings.
Though they’ll never replace people in long-term care environments, robots may be able to take on repetitive work and make such facilities run more smoothly and ease staff burnout and employee turnover. They also have the potential to help people age in place at home for a longer time.
Also, see the video, “Combatting loneliness in LTC homes with virtual reality,” included in the story.
It shows the joy virtual reality brings to residents of Dogwood Lodge, a Vancouver long-term care facility. A recreation therapist helps residents use VR headsets to virtually scuba dive, visit exotic locations, or revisit spots residents had seen when they were younger.
“A lot of them still have items they want to check off their bucket list, and the virtual reality allows them an opportunity to step outside the four walls of their care home and try something new,” says Isabella Laliberte, a recreation therapist.
Many expect that when people reach a certain age, they’ll want to sell their homes and downsize. But a recent Bank of America survey found that 70% of homeowners between the ages of 45 and 76 have decided to stay put and age right where they are.
After all, 78% say they like their current home and see no reason to move, and 22% have put so much work into their existing property that they want to stay.
Some reasons for remaining in their current property for aging in place among those who’ve not yet retired include avoiding high home prices and interest rates (32%) and benefiting from their current low mortgage payment or a paid-off home (20%).
In addition, about 95% of current mortgage holders have loans with rates of 5% or less, making them hesitant about giving up their low mortgage rates.
Moreover, renting, often an appealing option for downsizers, may be less attractive for those on a fixed income because of fluctuating rental costs.
Bank of America notes that decisions by baby boomers and Gen Xers to keep their homes can affect the country’s already tight home inventory and make it tougher for the next generations to buy homes.
But many in these two demographic groups plan to lend a hand to those future buyers by:
Interior design industry experts have spoken.
The word is that color – more vibrant home shades – is in for 2023. That’s according to findings from Fixr.com’s annual analysis of home paint and color trends.
Fixr.com talked with 62 interior design experts to understand color trends for 2023, and 58% percent of respondents expect that incorporating neutrals with pops of bold color will be popular this year.
Wallpaper, too, continues gaining ground, with 96% of experts saying it will be a big trend.
Though neutrals have always been considered a safe color choice, interior designers see homeowners moving away from gray and white and making bolder picks. The top five shades are:
Coral, peach, plum, and lavender are also top colors.
To dramatically transform a space, 57% of experts recommend painting an entire room a new color.
Wallpaper, too, can create a wow effect. More than half of designers point to botanical patterns – leaves, and flowering plants, for example – as the top choice for wallpaper. Other options include floral, art deco, and retro print. See (https://bit.ly/3VoTvqc) for examples of wallpaper designs and top paint colors.
Other ways to introduce color include incorporating textiles (44%) and furniture (34%), wallpapering a whole room (36%) or an accent wall (32%), or painting the ceiling (24%).
Still, if you’re planning to sell your home, warm neutrals inside remain the best option, say 82% of respondents. In addition, the dominant color for home exteriors remains white, and natural wood stains and tans have become increasingly popular.
The early part of a new year is good a time to review finances and make investment decisions.
This year, it’s particularly important, given that the passage of the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 in December 2022 has altered the landscape for your retirement savings.
For one, you can sock away more money in retirement accounts and leave it in such accounts longer.
Changes to catch-up contributions and RMD changes are two key provisions of the SECURE 2.0 Act that may influence your long-term retirement planning.
Those over 50 can now put more away for retirement by contributing an extra $7,500 per year into 401(k) accounts. In 2025, that amount will increase to $10,000 each year, indexed for inflation, for those aged 60 to 63 who are contributing to a workplace plan.
In addition, starting in 2024, for those making more than $145,000 per year, catch-up contributions will have to be made on a Roth (after-tax) basis.
Required Minimum Distributions
The SECURE 2.0 Act raises the age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) to 73 starting this year, which allows you to delay taking money out of defined contribution accounts like 401(k)s and 403(b)s. That gives your retirement nest egg a couple more years to grow.
In 2033, you’ll be able to delay taking RMDs until age 75, and this year, the 50% penalty for not taking your RMD drops to 25%.
In addition, starting in 2024, the law eliminates the requirement that you take RMDs from Roth 401(k) accounts.
The SECURE 2.0 Act also includes a slew of other important changes designed to enhance people’s future retirement, including mandatory auto-enrollment in company-sponsored retirement plans, allowing part-time employees to participate in retirement savings programs, easing restrictions on emergency and hardship withdrawals from retirement accounts, and the establishment of a searchable database to help people locate lost retirement plans.
Given that each person’s financial and tax situations are unique, it’s best to sit down with your financial planner and tax advisor to determine how the SECURE 2.0 Act affects you and how best to take advantage of its provisions.
To learn more about the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022, see:
Maybe you’re among those who capitalized on low mortgage rates in recent years and have decided to stay in your home and make upgrades rather than selling.
If your plans include a kitchen renovation, the 2023 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study offers insight into what’s trending and features that may be waning.
One top takeaway is the popularity of sustainable features. In fact, most homeowners (92%) incorporated sustainable features during a kitchen renovation, and for 74% of Houzz respondents, the choice is driven by cost-effectiveness. Other reasons for opting for sustainable items were environmental friendliness (54%) and health considerations (13%).
Top sustainability features included:
Houzz also found that homeowners are spending more on their kitchens, with the median for minor remodels increasing by $4,000 ($14,000 versus $10,000 the previous year) year-over-year for all kitchen sizes.
For a major remodel of a kitchen of less than 250 square feet, homeowners reported spending $37,000 in mid-2022, up from the $35,000 spent in mid-2021. For large kitchen remodels (more than 250 square feet) the $50,000 price tag didn’t change from 2021 to 2022.
People's taste in cabinet doors is shifting. Most renovators (77%) opt for solid wood cabinets, and though Shaker-style doors are still the most popular, the percentage of renovators choosing them dropped by 3 points. Twenty percent went with flat-panel doors.
High-tech features are increasingly attractive, and home renovators are choosing things like Wi-Fi-enabled appliances (25%) and ones that a tablet or smartphone can control (24%), as well as docking stations, wireless speakers, and stereo systems.
After a renovation, the kitchen serves as more than a place for cooking. It becomes the hub of some homes, and people use the space for eating (71%), baking (69%), entertaining (57%), socializing (46%), and working (23%).
Review Houzz’s complete findings at https://bit.ly/3JypEtg.
Jason Gelios, SRES-Senior Real Estate Specialist, Author, Public Speaker, and Expert Media Contributor of real estate expertise across the globe.