Friday, April 3, 2015

The Disposal

Well, the downsizing process is nearing completion.  We have Moved (sorted, packed, moved to new location, unpacked and designed); shipped desired treasures to the Family; sold unwanted items via the Sell to Auction houses, dealers, and on-line; and Donated items of value to our preferred charity.  The last component of downsizing is the Disposal.  Sounds easy, but the process is somewhat comprehensive if done correctly.

Our goal during the Disposal is to rid the home of all remaining items while attempting to recycle as much of the Disposal as possible.  The first step is to collect all hazardous material (which includes paints, insecticides, cleaning material, oil, etc.) and deliver them to a reclamation center.  Generally, the city site will allow maybe 50 pounds to be unloaded at no costs with an incremental cost per pound over the free allotment.  Disposing hazardous material in the trash is illegal and irresponsible to our environment.

Much of the remaining items can be recycled by the local community waste management company.  For example; cardboard, glass, cans, metal, leaves, and grass should be staged at the curb during your neighborhood recycle day.  Most recycle containers have a listing of the acceptable items for recycling.  If the recycling is significant and much larger than a normal week of disposal, it is wise to notify your waste management provider so there is no problem with the pick-up.

After recycling and hazardous material have been addressed, everything else needs to be trashed.  Generally, the easiest and most cost effective way is to utilize the waste management provider that services your neighborhood.  As with the recycling, a phone call is appropriate if you have a substantial amount of trash for pick-up.  The provider will ask about the number of boxes/bags for pick-up.  They will also inquire about large items like mattresses, cabinets, carpeting, etc.  Each of the larger items has a disposal dollar amount and they will itemize your list and bill you accordingly.  Don’t try and under estimate your items because you run a real risk of not having the provider pick-up the undeclared items.  Lastly, appliances usually need to be picked-up by an appliance recycle company.  Large televisions can be delivered to Best Buy (32” max) or a local television recycle center. All computer and electrical items should be disposed of at an electronics recycling center.

Now that everything is out of the home, it is appropriate to broom clean the floors, vacuum, clean the counters/bathrooms, and ensure the exterior of the home is presentable.  Any items that stay with the home (wood, shingles, and paint) should be orderly.  Remember, the buyer will do a final walk through of the property and if contents are excessive, the buyer can delay closing until the items are removed to an acceptable level.

The home is now ready to place on the market or it is ready to occupy for the new homeowners.  Wow, it has been a tremendous amount of work.  But, the process is complete and everyone can settle and enjoy their new surroundings and consolidated treasures.  It is a very freeing feeling! And as senior move managers, it is very rewarding to see the seniors go from overwhelmed to overjoyed.              


Wednesday, March 4, 2015



The Donation

In review, we have completed The Move and our senior(s) are in their new home and hopefully enjoying their new adventure.  Secondly, The Family has sorted through the remaining items at the original home and we have shipped to the appropriate locations.  Thirdly, The Sell was successful basis an on-line auction, estate sale or dealer purchases.  We have gone from a large amount of “stuff” to a much reduced and more manageable quantity of items for further liquidation.

The fourth step, The Donation, seems easy enough, right?  But, like each step, the process can be comprehensive and involve significant work.  We now target the items that did not sell or were excluded from the sale.  These remaining household goods range from furniture, cookware to trinkets.  All items (excluding furniture) should be boxed and taped close to assist the charity in an orderly move of the donations.  Fragile items like glassware and china should be wrapped in paper or bubble wrap.  It defeats the purpose of your gift to arrive broken.  Use your discretion on all other items.  Most of these items should make the trip unwrapped and in a good corrugated box.

Once packed the boxes and furniture need to be on the street level of the home.  In other words, most charitable movers will not go up or down stairs.  Additionally, “some” charities will only pick up donations from the garage in order to avoid damage or liability to the home.  They also require a specific list of items and in most cases, will not take incremental donations because they have staged pick-ups based on the available cube in the truck.  Lastly, they will require appointments and usually provide only a 2-3 hour window the day of pick-up.  In summary, the charity has many rules and requires a lot of coordination.

There are many charities that are item specific and we like to contribute to those charities also. For example, The Lions Club has Recycle for Sight Program to recycle eye glasses. St. Louis HELP collects and provides free home medical equipment to anyone in need. Animal shelters always gladly accept blankets of any kind.

Generally, the charitable organization will provide a tax deduction form that may or may not have the specific donations.  It is the responsibility of the individual receiving the deduction to itemize and assign estimated value for the entire gift.  It is recommended that this paperwork be shared with your tax professional for review before processing your return. A tax donation is not always important to seniors, especially if they don’t itemize their taxes.

The Donation is now complete and we will review The Disposal during the next blog.  The clean-out of the home may appear simple.  But again, if the homeowner is conscientious about recycling, hazardous waste, and leaving the home for proper showing or occupancy, The Disposal requires significant focus.


Saturday, February 14, 2015






The Sell



Today we will discuss The Sell (step 3), which is the beginning of the liquidation process that occurs after The Move (step 1) and The Family (step 2).  Remember, during The Move, all the household items were sorted for treasures and necessities. They have been relocated to the new home and unpacked according to the design.  Items left at the home have also been sorted by The Family and removed.  Now, we shift our attention to the elimination of the remaining items.


The Sell can be approached in several ways.  First, the owner must fully recognize that the items for sale have a market value much less than their original assessment.  Generally, the market pays 10 cents on the dollar.  Now, there are clearly exceptions like art, antiques, jewelry and coins.  However, the owner must proceed with a mind-set of “getting rid; not rich”.  Based on this proper expectation, the homeowner will conclude The Sell with peace of mine, inventory sold and a nice monetary dividend based on the market value of the items.


Like everything, the market to sell/buy items has changed significantly.  Generally, estate sales target very large homes and use the house as the stage for display and merchandising.  It also means possibly hundreds of people through the home. This option excludes many sellers.  Garage sales are a tremendous amount of work for very little return.  Craig’s List, eBay and classified ads are generally ineffective.  Again, all of these methods require the buyers to come into the home.


Smooth Transitions of St. Louis utilizes three methods that can be exclusive or combined.  First, the homeowner can take the task on themselves and approach dealers directly.  Clearly, the challenge within the dealer network is finding those that are buying.  If the dealer is in the market, remember, some buy art, others buy coins and still others buy antiques or jewelry. 


The second method is the on-line auction which is growing in popularity.  Items are grouped together in lots, photographed, categorized and placed on-line for buyers to make their bids. The auction is usually open 10-14 days.  The bids are slow at first, but rally near the end of the session. Market value will determine the price of an item.  Upon completion of the on-line auction, the buyers pick-up their purchases at the home.  The items have been paid for through the auction company and the homeowner will receive one lump sum (auction house takes about 25% of total sales) for all goods sold.  Again, the question referencing this opportunity is whether the homeowner has enough value (quality & quantity) to justify the work associated with the preparation of the auction.


Third, some auction houses will buy the entire contents of the home at a wholesale price and then resell the items at their auction house.  This option generates the least amount of cash, but does result in a quick liquidation.  Auction houses will also take select items on consignment and generally retain 25% of the sale price; it is usually the responsibility of the homeowner to deliver the items to the site.


The Sale is a very challenging process and professional assistance is recommended.  Once complete, the home will be noticeably empty.  Remaining items await The Donation (step 4) and The Disposal (step 5).