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Archive for August, 2016


Downsizing your Clutter

Downsizing your Clutter

When you downsize, you have less space for clutter. Prepare for downsizing now by eliminating things you don’t want to take with you. As a general rule of thumb, the average downsizer will only take about ⅓ of their possessions to their new home. Empty every cabinet and closet – one at a time – and decide what to do with it. Don’t attempt to tackle the whole house in one day or even one week. One cabinet or one closet a day is plenty.


Many people find it helpful to make three piles:

  1. Things to keep – These are things you either use or want to keep for sentimental value. Your goal is to keep this pile small – remember, about ⅓ of all of your possessions stay. The rest do not. One good idea is to keep the sentimental things you can’t bear to part with and be more heavy handed with the things you’re less attached to. Another good tip is to bring in a trusted friend who will look at the pile of things you can’t possible get rid of and offer a more objective opinion, i.e. “Why do you need your dress from senior prom?”
  2. Things to sell/donate – If it has value but isn’t something you want to take with you, then you can sell to make some money or donate it.keep trash donate
  3. Things to throw away – If it’s chipped or broken or stained, it goes into the garbage – charities don’t want it and no one will buy it.Throw away holiday lights that are broken, clothes with rips, Tupperware without lids (and lids without Tupperware), and anything that can’t be sold by a charity.
  4. Things to give away -If there are items you’re holding on to give to someone or leave in your will as a legacy, consider gifting the item now. There are a few benefits of this approach. First, you eliminate the clutter. Secondly, you can gain a tax benefit if it’s an expensive item. And, finally, you get the pleasure of seeing the recipient enjoying your gift.


Don’t have a maybe pile – just decide and move one. If you can’t decide, ask yourself if it’s worth the cost of moving it – movers often charge by the box. Still can’t decide? Ask yourself if you would replace it if it were lost in a fire?  If not, then toss it, donate it, sell it, or give it away.

When should you start your decluttering? 

Start to declutter when you’re thinking it might be time to downsize soon. To declutter thoughtfully is not a quick and easy task. You probably want to allow one work day for each cabinet or closet and several work days each for your basement, garage, and attic.

So work backward. Imagine you are willing to spend three hours every Saturday decluttering one location of your home. If you want to move in August of 2018, you have 52 weeks left. At a rate of one cabinet or closet per week, plus another several Saturdays for the basement, attic, and garage, will you be done on time?

Things you need to manage:

    • Paper – According to the IRS, you need to keep your tax records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund. Keep records for 7 shredder truck.JPGyears if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction. Anything older than that can be shredded. Union County offers mobile shredding days when residents can bring their confidential documents to be shredded and disposed – click here for the dates.
    • Photos – If you, like me, have dozens of boxes of photos in your attic, going through them is a chore you’ve been dreading. Don’t try to do it at once. One box a day is reasonable. As you go through the photos, throw away the blurry ones or the ones of people you can’t recognize. Make piles of photos to give to family members or friends. My parents made photo albums of our childhood photos for me and my sisters and then gave them to us as they became empty nesters. Consider digitizing photos. If you have a scanner, this is easy. If you don’t have a scanner, you can buy one for under $200 or you can use a professional service for about 50 cents per photo. Even better, buy a scanner and then hire a grandkid to do it for you.
    • Extra furniturefurniture In the house where we raised our children, we have a family room, a living room, a formal dining room, an office, and 4 bedrooms. That’s a total of 5 couches, 7 end tables, 2 coffee tables, 3 desks, two arm chairs, two rocking chairs, and a full dining set not to mention the 6 televisions and television cabinets. For us, downsizing will mean choosing our favorite sofa and end table or two and getting rid of the rest.
    • Kitchen wares – Empty every cabinet and see what you have duplicates of. When we got married, we each had a full kitchen which combined to make our (now overstuffed) kitchen. We have 4 pasta pots, 7 or 8 frying pans, a dozen or so spatulas, 3 colanders, and at least a dozen mixing bowls. Many families have 4 or 5 sets of dishes, enough coffee mugs for an army, and 9 or 10 vases. No one needs that much stuff, and when we downsize, we can’t have that much stuff. Time to pick what we want to keep and get rid of the rest.
    • Garage –garage tools If you’re downsizing to a condo, you won’t need snow shovels, lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, ladders, chain saws, and so on. Keep the hand tools (but no more than 1 or two hammers, please) but lose the rest. You also won’t need to bring the kids’ old sleds (perhaps it’s time to hand them down?) or the 6 feet of spare pvc from a project you did in the 1990s.  
    • Clothes – If you’re retired, donate, sell, or discard your work clothes. If you have clothes that no longer fit (of course you do) or are no longer in style (ask your kids, they’ll tell you), then donate, sell or discard.
    • Exercise Equipment – Do you still use it?  If yes, keep it. If not, sell or donate or trash.
    • Childhood memorabilia – Hold on to the things you love. Take digital photos of the rest and donate them so someone else can love them.
    • Books, magazines, DVDs – If you’re not going to read it or watch it again, donate, sell, or trash it.
    • Medicine – Do not flush or throw unused or expired medicine into the trash. They will contaminate the water supply. Your local drugstore will dispose of these items responsibly, free of charge.




As you empty each cabinet, your home will start to feel lighter and brighter. Not only are you making it easier to move, you’re making it easier to sell your home and making it easier to live there in the meantime.


Earlier posts in our Downsizing Series:


Finding a New Home after Downsizing

Finding a new place:


Once you’ve made the decision to downsize, the next step you need to make is to decide where you want to go and what kind of home you want.


The location you choose will depend on several factors. Do you want to be near family? Do you want to reduce your work commute? Do you prefer a city, a suburb, or a rural environment? Do you want to move to a location that has a lower cost of living? Depending on where you choose to live, you might not actually be saving money. A large house in an area with a lower cost of living might actually be a better financial  position for you than a small house in an area with a higher cost of living. Working out a budget at this point is pretty critical.

Very often, downsizers want a smaller home but with no less luxury. For example, if your larger home has granite countertops, most downsizers choose to have granite in their next home, and sometimes even use some of the extra cash they have to upgrade the kitchen appliances as well. Larger master suites are also a common feature downsizers want, and often are willing to sacrifice larger guest suites.

The type of home you choose will also depend on several factors. Some of your options are:

  • small-wooden-house-906912_960_720Smaller house – The benefits of choosing to move to a house are many. First of all, you retain the most freedom this way – you don’t need to comply with HOA requirements or age restrictions. Choosing a house means you’ll still have to do the maintenance and upkeep, however, even though it will likely be less time consuming and costly than in a larger home. A house will probably have more space than any other option, so if a guest bedroom or two is important to you, or if you want a formal dining room, this may be your best bet.
  • condo-619977_960_720Condominium – Many downsizers choose condos not only because they are significantly less costly than a house but also because maintenance will be done for you. No more shoveling snow or raking leaves is a pretty nice incentive. In many cases, condos are only one story so you can eliminate stairs if that’s an issue. Condo living sometimes comes with sweet amenities like clubhouses, pools, tennis courts, and so on. If you choose a condo, however, don’t forget that you’ll have to pay HOA fees which vary dramatically from place to place.
  • Rent – If you want to free up some cash, or move to temporary digs while your dream home is being built or while you’re waiting for retirement, renting might be a great option for you. The best part about it is that you are responsible for no upkeep or maintenance – even a clogged drain is fixed for you. Another benefit of renting is that you can stay in the same town without all of the expense associated with owning. The downside, of course, is that you aren’t building equity so it might not make sense financially.
  • Colonial_Village_Apartments,_Dallas_Baptist_UniversityActive Adult community – Sometimes known as “55+ Communities,” active adult communities are a great option if at least one person is 55 years of age or older. Active adult communities can be condominiums, cooperatives, single family homes, or even mobile home parks. The benefit of an active adult community is the opportunity to choose a community of people in the same stage of life. Many also offer amenities such as community swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, and so on.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community – A CCRC offers lifetime housing with advanced levels of care available as needs change. CCRCs also offer planned activities such as luncheons and parties for residents to get to know each other and socialize. Many offer bus trips to grocery stores and destinations such as the Jersey shore. CCRCs require an entrance fee and a monthly charge for care which is dependent on the level of support required.

When you decide where you want to live and the type of housing that appeals to you, it’s time to consider getting your current home on the market. At this point, you should contact a real estate professional who can help you determine what you need to do to prepare your home for sale as well as help guide you to finding your new dream home!


Earlier posts in the series:


Benefits of Downsizing

Too much house?

If the kids have moved out and cleaning 3 bathrooms, mowing the lawn, and heating and cooling 4 bedrooms is getting old, then it might be time to downsize.

Downsizing is not for everyone. There are many reasons people choose to keep the family homestead. Perhaps the kids have move far away and you want to maintain guest rooms for them. Perhaps your location is ideal for your job and you’re not ready to retire. Maybe the kids are close and you want to stay near them.


After the real estate bust, some homeowners who might have been ready to downsize postponed doing it until their home regained its market value. With market improvements for several years, you might be surprised at how much your home is worth. A simple phone call to a professional real estate agent might give you the news you’ve been waiting for!small-wooden-house-906912_960_720

There are benefits to downsizing that many people find attractive, and not least among them is cost. For many baby boomers, the majority of our wealth is tied up in our homes and selling our home will release the cash that we might be able to use differently. Many more owners are ready to sell now.Maintaining a home is expensive, and maintaining a large home is very expensive. Between real estate taxes, heating and cooling, utilities, insurance, and maintenance, many people find that they can save tons of money by moving to a smaller home. Additionally, smaller houses cost less to buy so you’re likely going to walk away from a downsize with a smaller mortgage. Even if you’re not ready to retire, moving to a smaller home will help pad your nest egg for retirement.

The time it takes to maintain a large home is another factor that baby boomers are using to explain why they want to downsize. When you own a large home, your entire weekend could be spent doing household chores. If your new home is half the size of your old home, that’s half the time it will take you to maintain the home. Imagine what you could be doing with all that spare time!


If you’re experiencing empty nest syndrome, a new home is a chance for you to regroup and have a fresh start. New homes offer opportunities for new friends, new clubs, new volunteer activities.

If you’re thinking about downsizing, now is the time to call a professional real estate agent. Find out what your home is worth and make an informed decision!

Drought Tolerant Plants

The dog days of summer are here, and they’ve brought wilted flowers with them. If you’re not outside watering your garden every evening, it’s hard to maintain the blooms that brightened your days all summer.

Consider drought resistant plants. Not only will you not need to water every night, but you’ll be surprised how hardy these plants are. Some need very little care at all once they’ve been planted and had time to establish themselves. You can set them in the ground now and be rewarded with easy to maintain flowers all summer long next year.


Have You Been to the Clark Commons?

Just about one year ago this week, the first store at the Clark Commons opened.  The grand opening of the Modell’s store, where members of the NY Giants were in attendance for the ribbon cutting and to do signings.

Now it’s a year later and all the stores and restaurants are open.  The anchor of the Commons is the Whole Foods, this store is absolutely beautiful and features the Clark Bar, a beer and burger bar.  There are are at least seven restaurants to satisfy any appetite in the Commons.  Some other stores are Michael’s, Dress Barn, Petco, 5 Below and Home Goods to name a few.  There’s also a PNC Bank branch and a large LA Fitness Facility.

This complex has added a lot of new jobs to Clark.  With such easy access from the Garden State Parkway the Clark Commons is becoming the place to be!

6 Michael Street SOLD 5% above asking price!

team zuhl


new logo

Are thrilled to announce that our listing at 6 Michael Street in Iselin has SOLD!!!  This lovely 5 bedroom 2 and a half bath split level was sold as an estate sale for $325,000.  

It was on the market for a total of 66 days and sold for $15,000 over list price!!     

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home, have them contact Team Zuhl.  We can help them.  Remember, with Team Zuhl everything we touch turns to SOLD!!!

Linden Real Estate Market Report – August 2016

Linden home buyers and home sellers need to understand the Linden real estate market. Here’s what you need to know for August, 2016.


Inventory: There are 255 single family homes offered for sale in Linden. This is a much lower inventory than we saw last July and may result in a price increase this fall. There were 25 homes sold in Linden in July of 2016. This is typical for July sales in Linden and, coupled with a lower than normal inventory, this may help to shrink the inventory even more.

There is very little change in inventory over 4 years.

Prices: The average home that was sold in Linden in July of 2016 was sold for $226,970. Although this sale price does not reflect a dramatic improvement, slow improvements over the last several years appear to have made an impact on sale prices. The price trend is showing an increase and homeowners in Linden are still seeing a modest return on their investment.

Days on Market: Homeowners who want to sell their home quickly should consult with their real estate agent to ensure that their home is being marketed agressively, is priced competitively, and is in pristine showing condition. The average home in Linden that was sold in July was sold after 66 days on the market. This is a dramatic improvement over the last 4 years  – in July, 2012, the average home was sold after 90 days!

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Linden, Team Zuhl is here to help you every step of the way!

For more information on the Linden Real Estate Market, please click here.

How will the low housing inventory in Cranford affect you?

Buyers and sellers in Cranford need to understand the current real estate market in Cranford and be able to compare it to the past real estate market to identify any trends or patterns that may impact their home purchase or sale. This is what you need to know for August, 2016.


Inventory: There are currently 99 single family homes offered for sale in Cranford, making this the lowest July inventory in several years.  Much of that is due to increased sales and the speed at which homes are getting taken off the market. There were 21 sold homes in July in Cranford which is also a little low for the summer.

Price: The average home that was sold in Cranford in July was sold for $472,081. This is the highest average sale price since July of 2015. Homeowners in Cranford continue to see a good return on their investment in Cranford real estate.

Days on Market: Homeowners who wish to sell their home quickly shold speak with their Realtor about an aggressive marketing campaign,  pricing their home competitively, and ensuring that the home is in optimal showing condition. The average sold home in Cranford was sold after 32 days, continuing the rapid sales we’ve been seeing in Cranford for the last several months. Home buyers who want to purchase a home in Cranford need to act quickly when they find the home they want!

If you’re planning on selling your Cranford home, call Team Zuhl today for a free comparative market analysis of your home. If you’re thinking of buying a home in Cranford, call us today!

For more information on Cranford Real Estate, please click here.

August update for Rahway home sellers and home buyers

Buyers and sellers in Rahway need to understand the current real estate market, how it was impacted by the past real estate market, and how it will impact the future real estate market. Here’s what Rahway home owners and home buyers need to understand in August, 2016.

Inventory: There are currently 218 homes offered for sale in Rahway and there were 30 sold in July, 2016. Home prices are often determined by inventory with higher inventory typically resulting in lower prices. Inventory is also variable with the time of year – summer inventory is normally lower than winter inventory. This summer has a lower than normal inventory and may result in higher demand and therefore higher prices in Rahway this fall. As more homes are sold, the inventory continues to decrease and prices will increase.

Prices: The average home sold in Rahway in July was sold for $259,047. This is the highest average monthly sale price seen in Rahway in several years.

Days on Market: Homeowners who want to sell their home quickly will want to discuss marketing, property condition, and pricing with their Realtor. The average home sold in Rahway in July was sold after a remarkable 46 days – among the fastest selling months in the last four years. As homes sell faster, the inventory will continue to decrease and prices will continue to increase.

Not sure what your Rahway home is worth? Call us today for your free consultation.

If you are a buyer or a seller interested in a home in Union County, please callTeam Zuhl! We’re happy to help you in all of your real estate needs!

For more information on the Rahway Real Estate Market, please click here.

Clark homes selling fast this summer

Before you buy or sell a home in Clark, it’s important to first understand how current market conditions compare to past market conditions and what that means for the future. Here’s what you need to know for August, 2016.

Inventory: There are currently 81 homes offered for sale in Clark.  It is normal for summer inventory to be higher than winter inventory and this year is no exception. There were 15 homes sold in July.  With increased sales in the summer, the inventory will drop down this autumn.  The law of supply and demand predicts that this will result in increasing home prices in Clark.

Prices: The average sold home in Clark in July was sold for $344,088. That’s a little low for Clark and it’s reasonable to predict that will correct itself with higher average sale prices next month.

Days on Market:  Sellers who want to sell their home quickly should work with their Realtor to ensure that the home is priced competitively, is in excellent showing condition, and is being marketed with an aggressive marketing campaign. The average Days on Market for a sold home in Clark in July was 29 days.

If you are a buyer or a seller interested in a home in Clark, New Jersey, please call Team Zuhl! We’re happy to help you in all of your real estate needs!

For more information on selling a home:

For more information on Clark and Clark Real Estate, please click here.

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