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How Do I Know What My Things Are Worth?

We hear this question all the time. In our book, Home Downsizing in Four Easy Steps, we provide readers with 10 FREE ways (price guides, trade papers, eBay completed prices, Internet web sites, appraisal fairs, etc.) to investigate the value of their items, and 6 FREE ways to help them identify what their things are worth. These ideas are a great way to start learning the value of your personal property assets in today's rapidly changing market.

But this takes considerable time and, unless you know exactly what you are doing, you still run the risk of making a major mistake. And beware of "free appraisals" provided by well-meaning but un-knowledgeable friends.

The #1 way to learn the value of your antiques, collectibles, collections, household items, and yes, even the junk, is to seek the help of a personal property professional. It could be a Home Downsizing Consultant, an Appraiser, an Auctioneer, or an Antique Dealer. But here is the key: DO NOT bring in anyone for advice who has a vested interest in purchasing any of your items. It is all too tempting for them to offer a low-ball number in order to buy your better items at less than fair market value.

Basically you have two primary options. You may want to consider having a formal, written USPAP Appraisal completed by a qualified appraiser who specializes in the type of merchandise that you have. USPAP means "Uniform Standards, Professional Appraisal Practice", and this means that the appraiser has followed the guideline and regulations promulgated by both the Appraisal Institute, and the Appraisal Foundation. However, a comprehensive USPAP appraisal can take considerable time, it can be quite expensive, and is often un-necessary at this point of the home downsizing process. USPAP appraisals are generally used for estate, divorce, insurance, or other legal appraisal work.

An alternative approach would be to have an "In-Home Personal Property Valuation" done by a qualified individual. With this type of valuation you will generally receive a verbal, ballpark valuation. It is not in writing, it is not as thorough as a USPAP appraisal, but because it takes much less time to complete, the cost is considerably lower. For most, in our opinion this is generally the best approach at the start of the downsizing process.

You will have to decide which valuation approach is best for you. But in summary…you should NEVER sell a thing until you know what it is worth.

Home Downsizing Strategy #1: You should never sell anything until you understand its value in today's market.

Home Downsizing Strategy #2: You should generally not sell your merchandise to the individual who tells you what it is worth.

Key Words: home downsizing, home downsizing in four easy steps, home downsizing strategy, home downsizing consultant, USPAP, in-home personal property valuation, appraisal institute, appraisal foundation.

How Long Does It Take to Downsize the Typical Home?

You've probably been thinking about downsizing your home for a while but the simple thought of it is almost overwhelming. You've been in your home for longer than you can remember, and it's filled to the rafters with quality merchandise, general household items, family memories, and more junk that you would like. But at some point you will have little choice. It will be time to downsize and shed much of the excess items sitting around your home, basement, garage, attic, and outbuildings that you no longer want or need.

Even if you're not yet ready to begin the downsizing process, it's not too early to begin "planning" for it today. Because it takes time to do it right. For the typical home, 6 months - 1 year is not uncommon. It's not that you can't cleanout a home in a much shorter time, you can. But if you want to sell your excess personal property assets for maximum value, it takes time to get everything ready.

  • You must get yourself mentally prepared and organized.
  • You must sort your items into one of the 8 standard sorting categories (keeping, giving to family, selling, donating, dumping, etc.).
  • You must prepare your items for sale (cleaning, repairing, etc.).
  • It takes time to locate a suitable buyer (advertising, research, etc.). The more potential buyers you line up, the better off you will be.
  • It takes time to negotiate a favorable price. If you find yourself in a rush to sell, you will find yourself at the short end of the bargaining table.
  • It takes time to close a sale. If your first buyer backs out, unless you have cultivated multiple potential buyers, you may have to start all over again. And it takes even longer if you are seeking multiple buyers for multiple collections or assets.

Remember, anyone can "clean out" a home in only a matter of days. But if you want to exchange your lifetime's accumulation for the maximum value possible, don't wait until the last minute to begin.

Home Downsizing Strategy: It generally takes 6 months - 1 year to downsize the typical home.

Key Words: home downsizing, downsizing plan, downsizing process, home clean-out, home downsizing strategy

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

The coming explosion in America's 65+ age demographic will most likely lead a shortage in senior retirement housing. This senior housing shortage will force a larger percentage of older Americans to remain in their homes longer than by today's standards. One likely result of this will be an increase in in-law apartments and shared housing. And a second likely result will be the phenomenon called "Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities", or NORC's.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities will occur for several reasons.

  • Older people typically like to live among people their own age.
  • A shortage in senior housing in the coming years will force people to remain in their homes longer than by today's standards.

As a result we will most likely see an increasing number of neighborhoods dominated by residents 65+. And this will place an added demand on local municipalities to provide such senior services as localized health care, smaller housing, elder-friendly indoor and outdoor design, food and shopping services, and local transportation to these aging communities. We are seeing it already today in certain communities.

Home Downsizing Tip: In the coming years the shortage in retirement home space will result in Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities in many U.S. cities.

Key Words: naturally occurring retirement community; norc, home downsizing, senior retirement housing, home downsizing tip

The Aging of America

Here are two very interesting statistics that should have a direct bearing on Home Downsizing in the coming years. According to the Delaware Valley (PA) Regional Planning Council:

  • Between 2010-2030 the number of Americans age 65+ will double to more than 70,000,000.
  • In Philadelphia alone, 1-in-5 Philadelphians will be age 65+ by 2025.

These two statistics suggest several important implications.

  • With the growing number of Americans reaching age 65+ in the coming years, there should be a growing number of Americans seeking to downsize their homes.
  • As the number of Americans reaching age 65+ increases, it is questionable whether there will be enough retirement home space to accommodate all of these older Americans. This would suggest that many may have to remain in their homes longer than they do in today's world.

As a result over the next 20 years many senior citizens will be "over-housed"…i.e., forced to live in homes larger than they would like. Most likely even those who may not be moving will be forced to downsize, just to make their homes more manageable as they age.

Home Downsizing Tip: As the number of Americans age 65+ continues to grow over the next 20 years, more will be downsizing but remaining in their homes, because there may not be enough retirement home space available for all who need it.

Key Words: home downsizing, over-housing, home downsizing tip

Why Should I Pay Someone
To Tell Me About What I Already Own?

We've heard this question on multiple occasions from people who didn't want to invest in a Personal Property Valuation prior to downsizing. Our standard response: You need a Personal Property Valuation in order to save yourself potentially thousands of dollars as you downsize.

Many people simply don't realize that next to their home and real estate investment, the Personal Property Assets they have accumulated over the years often represent one of their largest financial investments. Most American homes have some type of hidden treasures. Your job is to identify your hidden treasures…before you un-knowingly sell them too cheaply.

Here are just a few examples of things we have seen over the years:

  • A 1939 Ford Woodys Wagon, which sat rusting away in a farm field for more than 20 years, sold for $47,300 after someone identified it as a very collectible car. Tens-of-thousands of people had driven past it over the years before one individual finally recognized its true worth.
  • More than 30 hand-carved duck decoys, which sat on a family's shelves for more than 40 years, sold for nearly $38,000 at Auction. The owners would have been happy to sell them for a few thousand dollars, had someone made them such an offer. Fortunately, no one ever did.
  • A large unframed tapestry, purchased in a box lot for a few dollars, sold for more than $22,000 at Auction. The owner thought so little of the piece prior to its sale that he had left it at the back door of the Auction Center, outdoors and un-protected, for an entire weekend before the Auction Company found it on the following Monday and placed it in a subsequent Catalog Auction.
  • Four framed 20th century oriental ceramic panels, which had been estimated in an Auction Catalog for $200-$400…sold for a strong $47,150….to a bidder in China.

Don't underestimate the value of your antiques, collectibles, household items and yes, sometimes your junk. Most homes have some type of hidden treasures. Your job is to identify those treasures…before you give them away for less than they are worth. And if you can't identify them yourself, then maybe its time to bring in a Personal Property Professional to help you determine exactly what you already own.

Key Words: Home Downsizing, Downsizing, Personal Property Valuation, Personal Property Assets, Hidden Treasures

Don't Throw It Away.
FreeCycle It.

When downsizing your home certain things have considerable financial value, most things have moderate financial value, and other items have little or no financial value, although they may still have some useful life remaining.

Instead of trashing these low value items, perhaps a better alternative is to "FreeCycle" them, or find them a new home by giving them away for free. According to its www.FreeCycle.org web site, The FreeCycle Network™ is made up of 4,664 groups with 6,365,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer...".

To avoid having to incur shipping costs, which would make FreeCycle un-workable, listings are broken down by regions within each state. When I keyed in my home town of "Doylestown PA", I was taken to a page for "Central Bucks County/Doylestown", and learned that there were 3742 registered FreeCycle members in my area alone.

Membership is free, and everything posted on FreeCycle must be FREE, legal and appropriate for all ages. To view the items being given away or sought in a given location, you must become a member of the local group. Registration on the web site is free, quick and easy and you can begin posting your free items immediately.

The biggest positive of this concept is that you can get rid of items that you no longer want or need, while helping someone in the process. The greatest negative of the FreeCycle concept is that you may have to allow strangers into your home.

Only you can decide if this concept works for you. Either way, FreeCycle is a great idea and is something that you should at least consider as part of your home downsizing.

Key Words: FreeCycle, Downsizing, Home Downsizing

New Home Downsizing Book Released

Home Downsizing in 4 Easy Steps, the most complete guide to home downsizing ever published, is now available. Officially released on January 1st, 2009 this 8.25x11" format book includes 24 chapters, 172 pages and introduces the 4-step AVID Home Downsizing System™ which is designed to help you downsize your home by converting your excess and unwanted personal property assets into the greatest amount of cash, with the least amount of work, in the shortest amount of time.

Authored by Michael Ivankovich, The Home Downsizing Consultant, this book is now available in paperback or eBook format through the author's Web site (www.HomeDownsizingConsultants.com), through Amazon.com, or through select book stores. The eBook is immediately downloadable from our Web Site (http://www.homedownsizing4easysteps.com/ebook-advtext.htm).

Key Words: Home Downsizing, Home Downsizing Book, Home Downsizing in Four Easy Steps, AVID Home Downsizing System, Home Downsizing Consultant

What Can HomeDownsizingConsultants.com Do For Me?

As the time for downsizing your home approaches, relatively few individuals understand that selling off excess and un-needed personal property items which have been accumulated over the past 15-30 years can represent one of life's largest financial transactions. They simply go ahead and start selling without any real understanding of today's market values, or without any well-thought-out plan of action.

The job of HomeDownsizingConsultants.com is to work for you, and only you, when it comes time to downsize your home. When you call in the local Antiques Dealer to look over your personal property, who does the dealer represent? The Antiques Dealer.

When you call in the Auctioneer or Cleanout Specialist, who do they represent? Themselves, of course.

HomeDownsizingConsultants.com represents you. And only you. We are not interested in buying anything, and we will not buy anything from you. Rather, our job is to help you to understand what you have, whether is good, great, or simply junk…and how…and where…you can best dispose of those items that you no longer want or need.

The typical first step in dealing with HomeDownsizingConsultants.com is the "In-Home Personal Property Walk-Through Valuation". This is not a costly, formal, written appraisal. Rather, this is where we simply walk through your home with you, and provide you with a verbal ballpark estimated value on what your items may be worth in today's market. The typical "In-Home Personal Property Walk-Through Valuation" typically lasts 60-90 minutes. Once you have a general understanding of what you have, that portion of our job it done. We simply get you moving in the right direction.

If you need additional help, we can provide additional services as well. For example, we can:

  • Meet with you in a one-on-one Home Downsizing Consultation where we focus completely upon you, and your personal downsizing situation.
  • Help you to determine where best to sell your items. And at what price.
  • Negotiate on your behalf with any potential buyer or provider of services.
  • Either handle ourselves, or arrange for, any packing or cleanout services that may be required.
  • If we discover any hidden treasures, at your request we can either sell them on eBay, or help you to locate the best Auction House, Antiques Dealer, Consignment Shop, or Private collector who may be best suited to handling your particular merchandise.
  • If you are not from our local area, we can handle the entire home downsizing for you. This can be especially helpful for those individuals who may need to close-up a parent's or relative's home, but who are unable to handle the task themselves because of timing, distance, health, or other personal factors.

The bottom line is this: HomeDownsizingConsultants.com can handle anything you need us to do when it comes time to move or downsize your home. And we can do it in a professional and timely manner.

Key Words: Moving, Home Downsizing, Home Downsizing Consultation, Home Downsizing Consultant, In-Home Personal Property Valuation

Free Home Downsizing Tips

New Home Downsizing Tips and Strategies are constantly being contributed to us by readers and clients. Here are just a few:

  • According to realtors, some homes sell better if completely furnished; others sell better if completely emptied. Ask your Realtor how best to stage your home for prospective buyers. Proper staging can help your home to sell quicker and the proper look allows you to set a higher asking price. For many this is often the first step in home downsizing.
  • You may actually be throwing away thousands of dollars if you begin selling your Personal Property before knowing what it may be worth in today's market. You should always seek the help of an experienced professional to learn the value of your personal property…before, not after …you are ready to sell it.
  • An "Appraisal" provided by a well-intended but clueless friend is often worth nothing more than a puff of wind.

Key Words: Home Downsizing, Home Downsizing Tips, Home Downsizing Strategies, Appraisals

Home Hasn't Sold Yet?
Now May Be the Perfect Time to Begin the Home Downsizing Process

Uncluttered homes usually sell faster. They show better, they show brighter, and make the house look bigger. If your home isn't selling as quickly as you would like, consider this 3-step approach to home downsizing.

  • Step #1: Un-clutter your home now. Determine what you no longer want or need, things that are just cluttering up your home, things that you know you will not be taking with you when you eventually move…and dispose of them now. Leave the things that you will be keeping, leave enough quality merchandise so that your house shows well to prospective buyers, but dispose of the excess clutter.
  • Step #2: Once your house sells: Dispose of the things that you will not be taking with you to your new home. Why pay movers to move it, only to sell it after you arrive in your new home? Sell it before you move, and save yourself considerable money.
  • Step #3: Expect a final disposition when your move is complete: No matter how hard you try, a few things will simply not fit into your new home. That's ok. Plan well, do your best, but expect this to happen. This will involve the third and final stage in your personal downsizing process.

Remember, a well-planned and well-thought-out downsizing plan is always preferable to a last minute downsizing. A rushed, last minute approach will almost always force you to do things that you wouldn't normally do if you had sufficient time.

Key Words: Home Downsizing, Home Downsizing Process, Approach to Home Downsizing, Downsizing Plan

Free Home Downsizing Tips

New Home Downsizing Tips and Strategies are constantly being contributed to us by readers and clients. Here are just a few:

  • Purchasing and selling Real Estate can represent the largest monetary transaction of your lifetime. For many selling off excess personal property assets that have been collected and accumulated over the past 10-50 years can represent the second largest monetary transaction of your lifetime. Don't be afraid to ask for help because mistakes in this area can cost you big money.
  • Before you start looking for a new home, prepare a checklist of what you are looking for in a new home. Being clear and precise in your needs will save you time when viewing homes that don't meet your needs.
  • Setting a realistic asking price on your home can be the difference between a quick sale or staying on the market for months. The same is true of selling off your personal property assets. If you price them too high they will rarely sell, or sell slowly. If you price them too low, you may be cheating yourself. A little help in this area can save you from making some major and costly mistakes.

Key Words: Home Downsizing, Home Downsizing Tips, Home Downsizing Strategies, Appraisals


Want to learn more?

Visit our 3 Home Downsizing Web Sites:

Home Downsizing Consultants

Home Downsizing in 4 Easy Steps book

Home Downsizing Workshops

or call (215)-345-6094


Michael Ivankovich
P.O. Box 1536 * Doylestown, PA 18901

Office: 215-345-6094 * Cell: 215-264-4304

E-Mail: info@homedownsizingconsultants.com

Visit all our Home Downsizing Web Sites:




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