A little Swedish death cleaning

I fell strongly about this and have written about it before. I cleaned out my parent’s house when they needed to move and I have helped clients who have inherited property figure out what to do with their deceased loved one’s stuff.

Let’s face it we all have a lot of stuff, too much stuff. If we have adult children they probably don’t want our stuff and some even worry that they will have to deal with it.

In the last few years, I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff because I feel responsible for my own stuff and I don’t want my family to have to deal with it. I started with items being stored in my basement and worked my way up.

It isn’t enough to just get rid of stuff. I have been very careful about what I buy because I want less not more. Having less seems like a constant battle.

For me throwing usable household items and clothing away seems wrong. I have been getting rid of excess stuff by donating it, selling it or giving it to friends and family. I have been able to recycle a few things and I “upcycled” furniture so that it can be re-used.

I have gained a lot of space in my basement, closet, and kitchen cabinets. I have an empty closet and several empty drawers.

Having too much stuff can be an obstacle for those who want to downsize. I always recommend starting the process a year before a move if possible. People tend to make better decisions if they have some time to plan.

A friend of mine who lived in the same house for 30 years took three years to downsize before getting the house ready to sell. I have lived in the same house for 29.5 years. 🙂

If you haven’t heard of Sweedish death cleaning, do a google search. There are several books and articles on the subject.

Fall back, a barbaric custom

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Daylight savings time ends this weekend. We can not really change time, and the rules of earth rotation and daylight never change.

Most of us will adjust to the time change in a few weeks. Turning the clock back is easier on the body than moving it forward. It will be light out again in the early morning hours and dark by the end of the workday as it should be.

Daylight savings time is a crime against nature but it is also a marketing opportunity. Please set your clock one hour ahead before you go to bed on Saturday and call me on Sunday so I can sell your house. 


Holiday Decorations – Less is best

We are just a few weeks away from the holiday season. If your home is on the market or is going to be on the market during the holidays and you like to decorate for the holidays go ahead and decorate.

Keep your decorations simple. If you have collections and villages and multiple trees pack them up and get them ready for the big move.

If you celebrate Christmas there isn’t anything wrong with getting a tree and decorating it. Lights are a good thing during the short days of December.

If your home is small keep the decorations small and if necessary remove other items from the room to make more room for decorations.  Even holiday decorations can look like clutter is there are too many, and they can make a home look small if they are too large.

Also, consider asking to have your home put in a “temporarily not available to show” status for a few days or a week if you want to have a quiet holiday celebration. Your house will still be for sale, it is like putting it on hold and stopping the clock.

HECM or Reverse Mortgage

queen anne house
Got House?

It seems like just about everything that has to do with old people and or the federal government is given a set of initials that eventually becomes a word.

HECM stands for . . get this LOL “Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program”. This isn’t a home equity line of credit or loan. The HECM is what used to be called a reverse mortgage.

Yes, a reverse mortgage is just what it sounds like. The homeowner gets a money each month instead of making a payment.

Homeowners can also use the program to open a line of credit that does not have to be repaid.

The amount that can be borrowed depends upon the amount of equity in the home and the age of the youngest borrower.

The money can be used for anything and it can be paid back in full. It might be a good way to finance roof or some other home improvement.

HECM has some strict requirements like you have to be at least 62 and own your home free and clear or have a lot of equity.

There are more details, in-fact a lot more details and they can be found on the HUD website.

Confusing services and options

Figuring out where to live can be a challenge for seniors but being a senior does not mean that you have to move. It is usually a worsening medical condition, accident or death of a spouse or caregiver that triggers a move rather than a particular age.

We are encouraged to plan ahead but that can be tough for those of us who do not know how long we will live, what we will die of and if we will become completely or partially disables at some point before we die.

I never imagined my parents would end up in a nursing home but that is where people who need around the clock skilled nursing care can live.

They were in their own home but needed more care so I helped them bring services into their home. My dad got some visits from a nurse practitioner and they got meals on wheels and someone came in a few times a week to help with cleaning and laundry.

I took them grocery shopping and on errands.  That service is also available but they lived close by. I was able to do some of the cooking too.

Eventually, they were no longer able to care for themselves. They moved to an assisted living place. They were already in their late 80’s and active 55+ type housing was no longer a good fit.

Assisted living facilities are not all the same and it is about getting them more of the same services they were getting at home in an environment that was more home-like and less institutional.

In Minnesota, those places are not as well regulated as nursing homes are. As a daughter, I had to be involved.

Now they are each 90 years old. Some people in their 90’s do fine on their own in their own home but many do not. I have a lot of contact with people in their early to late 90’s.

Many of them no longer walk, and most need a lot of help. Our medical system is designed to give people in their 90’s unlimited medical care.

As our population ages, I am becoming more concerned about “resources” that are being given to seniors. One resource states in the fine print:

“There is no cost to you for our services.
We are paid by our partner communities only if you move in.”

Are advisors who are being paid by assisted living and senior housing communities really the best source of advice for seniors? What about the housing options that are available that do not partner with the senior housing experts?

I like to refer Minnesota seniors and people like me who want to help a family member to SeniorLinkageLine. It is also a free service but no one is getting a commision. It is a state-run program.

There is so much to learn if you find yourself in need of senior housing. After years of hands-on experience, I am still learning new things all the time. One thing I learned early on is to carefully vet resources and experts.

Senior housing isn’t just for those who are disabled. There are senior co-ops and condos and 55+ apartments and communities. Some are a great fit for people who want to travel and who do not want to worry about caring for property or making repairs.

We tend to lump people from the age of 55 to 120 altogether and suggest that there is some kind of similarity in housing preferences and needs.

Also see: Beware of the senior specialist

One to buy and two to sell


What does “one to buy and two to sell” really mean?

I was contacted by a homeowner who wants to sell his primary residence. He bought the home before he was married. His wife travels often for business. He had assumed he could sell without his wife having to sign anything.

It doesn’t work that way. Once they got married both spouses have a legal claim to the property.

The good news is that it is not at all hard to sell real estate in Minnesota while traveling especially if you are working with someone like me. There are also ways to close without having to go to the closing.

Either spouse can buy real estate at any time without the other spouse assuming they are financially qualified without the spouse’s income. There are families where one spouse works outside the home and the other spouse works in the home and does not have an income.

If you are buying a house and your spouse is not contributing financially your spouse’s name will not be on the purchase agreement. When you close on the purchase and take the title joint tenants the property will belong equally to both spouses. If the buyer dies his/her spouse will inherit the property.

Also, see Marriage and homeownership