Spring Cleaning: DeCluttering For Good

woman dancing in clean living room
riccardo.fissore via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting a never-ending battle to keep your house clean? *Raises hand* Maybe it’s not a lack of nifty containers, baskets, or closet space. Maybe, it’s an excess of stuff. I know that’s our problem. With three kids, 3 sets of grandparents, and 2 sets of great grandparents all nearby, our kid’s clutter has reached critical mass. Add to that our hobbies and clutter, and we have way too much stuff. I know we’re not alone. I see that guilty look on your face.

I decided Step 1 of decluttering project would be “The Purge.” Just as ruthless as the movie, but with less bloodshed.

I got so overwhelmed thinking about the amount of stuff we had that I kind of just procrastinated and put The Purge off for a while. I would get all amped up to do it and then sit down and look at decluttering tips on Pinterest. I am such a sucker for before and after pictures. I wanted those results, but knew they couldn’t be achieved in the 7 minutes it took to read an article.

Instead of trying to declutter the entire house at once, I suggest breaking it down by room and doing a little each day. If you try to do it all at once, you’ll probably end up on the floor crying while surrounded by a huge pile of stuff and contemplating a huge bonfire.

For the purge, make 4 piles:

1. Keep – things you love and use regularly

2. Toss – things that are either badly stained, broken, missing pieces, or otherwise can’t be donated

3. Donate – things that are useable, but you don’t love or use

4. Maybe – things that you occassionally use, but need to replace or things that aren’t quite up to par but will work until you can find a replacement.

Once everything is sorted into the four piles, immediately take the “Toss” pile out to the trash and load the “Donate” pile into the car. Our local Goodwill is only five minutes away, so it’s pretty quick for me to just run over there, unload, and grab my receipt for tax time. Write-offs, people! After that, put away the “Keep” pile and the “Maybe” pile. As you replace the “Maybes”, donate them as well.

Take-Away Tips:

1. Get rid of things that are broken or you don’t like.
2. Get over the guilt associated with giving away a gift. If you don’t like it, let it go.
3. When in doubt, throw it out!

The Truth About Short Sales: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

What is a short sale?

House, Property, Real Estate For Sale Sign
MarkMoz12 / Foter.com / CC BY

Plenty of buyers call us very excited about deals that sound too good to be true. They’ve found a great house in a great neighborhood for an unbelievable price. It’s a short sale, but what exactly does that mean? A short sale becomes available when the seller owes more on their mortgage than what the house is worth. In essence, they’re “shorting” the bank if they sell. To avoid foreclosure, many homeowners decide to put their home on the market as a short sale, thus offering it to the general public at a discounted price.

Who Should Consider Listing a Short Sale?

American Dollar
thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Maybe you had an unexpected illness or injury that caused you to become delinquent on your mortgage. Maybe you’ve suffered a recent job loss or began caring for an elderly parent. Whatever the reason, you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payments and don’t see a way to get caught up. You’ve got to do something before you receive that acceleration notice. What’s an acceleration notice? It’s the final letter in a series of nasty-grams from the bank in which they demand full payment of the mortgage balance. If you can’t pay the full balance, the bank will foreclose on the house and sell it at a sheriff’s sale. The key is to get in front of the problem and talk to the bank before you get to this point.

It seems easier to avoid the calls and letters, but all you are doing is creating bigger problems down the line. Unlike many other things we own, a home is extremely personal. It’s easy to look at the bank as the enemy when everything is going wrong in your life and they are threatening to take the one place you are supposed to feel safe. Take a deep breath, calm yourself, and try not to demonize the bank. It will just make them harder to work with. If you are only 30 – 60 days delinquent, talk to your lender. They are more understanding than you may think and will likely work with you on a repayment plan to get your loan current again. When you’re beyond the 90 day mark and it looks doubtful that you can catch up, it’s time to consider a short sale.

In the first several years of home ownership, the majority of your payments go towards interest instead of principal. Unless you’re making regular additional payments to the bank, your balance remains relatively high until more time has passed. If you purchased the home at market value and have no equity built in, this means that you probably owe more than the home is worth. Especially if there are any repairs needed. With a short sale, you have the option of listing and selling the home, having the remainder of your debt forgiven, and possibly receiving money from the bank to help you move into a more affordable place.

Who Should Consider Purchasing a Short Sale?

Single (20)
singlerentinmobiliaria / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Literally anyone can buy a short sale. Sure, there are some downfalls, but there are also great deals to be had. So, what does it take to buy a short sale? In one word; patience. You’ll tour the house, fall in love, and put in an offer. Then you’ll wait. And wait some more. And just when you think the waiting should be over, there will be – you guessed it, more waiting. It can be really trying, especially when you’re excited to move into a new home. Unfortunately, banks work on their own time frame and no one really knows what that is. You could get lucky and receive a response to your offer within a week or two. Or, you could wait a couple of months. However, if you have the staying power, you can get a fantastic price on the home of your dreams.

Once the bank has accepted your offer, you’ll go through the rest of the process as normal: inspections, appraisals, and then closing. Sometimes, inspections find things with the house that make it unmortgageable. This could be anything from mold to foundation or roof issues. Unfortunately, sellers that have listed their home as a short sale generally do not have the funds available to fix any major issues that come up in home inspections. If this happens, your Realtor will need to renegotiate a lower price with the bank and you may need to consider a construction or 203k loan which allows you to roll the costs of repairs into your mortgage. (More on 203k loans soon) Start to finish, the process could take anywhere from the average 60 days up to several months. If you have the time and patience, you could close on a home for several thousand dollars less than market value and move in with equity.

Our partner


Team Lapinsky has partnered with Gerry Gray Law. Gerry is a local attorney who specializes in short sales. An excellent resource for homeowners, Gerry guides many of our clients through the process of listing and selling their homes via short sale. He holds the same high standards for customer care that Team Lapinsky strives for in every transaction. Give us a call to discuss your options today!