Home Smart - Jude Creamer

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Posted on

Jul 09, 2024


Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties

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Your Mom loved living in Sarasota.  She was active and had many lovely friends with whom she played bridge, golfed, and enjoyed cocktail hour.  That made your heart sing knowing she was joyful and taken care of even though you were only able to travel from “up north” to visit her a couple of times a year.

But then this unexpected life event happened.  She graduated rehab with flying colors and has been comfortably situated in an Assisted Living Community. It all happened so fast. Just last month she hit 3 over par and enjoyed a gin and tonic to celebrate!  

Now comes the hard part.  The doc says she won’t be able to live on her own again, and it doesn’t make sense to retain the house she once lived in.  You can’t ask Mildred or Marge, her best golfing buds, to do what comes next.  It’s up to you and your siblings, and where do you begin?

Below are eight tips to help you handle your mom’s personal possessions and real estate from a long-distance perspective now that she is comfortable in her new Sarasota Assisted Living Community.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spend some time thinking about what’s next.  What needs to be done, and who will be handling it.  The worst thing you can do is jump into the “action” phase without seeing the entire big picture. Some things to consider up front:

  • Time
    • How much time will you need to gather, organize, pack, choose, decide, ship, and move her belongings?
    • How much time can you get off work to travel to Sarasota, handle the move, spruce up the property, and put the house on the market and coordinate the sale? 
  • Logistics
    • When do you start?
    • Should you fly down to SRQ, or drive?
    • How many times will you need to make the trip?
    • Which siblings are going to help?
    • Can you coordinate schedules so everyone can work together?
  • Decisions
    • What personal possessions will Mom want in her new home?
    • Who gets which heirloom?
    • Do you ship these precious pieces, or store them?
    • Should you advertise and host an estate sale, or donate?
    • Mom lived in the house for 18 years. It definitely needs some cleaning and possibly a bit of updating in order to sell it. Who will handle THAT?

Choose To Work With A Local And Experienced Partner

Tackling the project of cleaning out a home and readying it for market is a daunting task.  Overseeing the project from 800 miles north of Sarasota is a complete game-changer.   Being an out-of-state personal representative or designated beloved family member is no easy task.

There is a variety of wonderful senior services in Sarasota, and you can call on them for help.  Just to start, you’ll need cleaners, movers (& boxes), painters (& possibly other contractors), packers, shippers, donation charities, a dumpster rental, a Realtor, and a stager.  This is on top of coordinating with doctors, the assisted living facility, insurance adjusters, Medicare, or Medicaid, and …

OR: You might choose a local project manager who will serve as your liaison to coordinate the on-site logistics of removing the personal belongings, prepping, and selling the real property for top dollar.   This is my specialty, and I would first meet with you at the house, discuss the objectives and goals, give you time to remove your personal mementos, and then you’d hand over the key.  From there we’d agree on a master game plan, and I’d follow it to a “T” with good communications along the way.  You head back north to your other responsibilities, and I’ll get your job done here in Sarasota.    

Research The Area Regarding Home Values And Trends

If you’re working with a quality Realtor, she’ll know the area and will give you solid area information about market trends and home values that will guide you on deciding on list price.  Of course, it’s always good to stay up on it yourself to be assured that her guidance is spot on.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Make Your Decisions

Knowing life has taken a left turn for Mom is hard to swallow. The empty house and especially the belongings within it can have a lifetime of fond memories associated with them.   It’s important to feel the emotions that come up, but don’t let your emotions drive you into making decisions too quickly, keeping too many personal belongings that could cost you too much money to store and transport, or lull you into choosing to wait too long and racking up utility, maintenance and holding costs on the property that you weren’t prepared to pay.

Be Diligent, But Don’t Rush

Balancing the emotions of life changes with making rational and prudent decisions is the name of the game.  Each morning, you may wake up feeling that there are too many decisions to make and tasks to attend to, but keep in mind that everything doesn’t need to be completed in this moment.  Give yourself a break. Take one small step at a time and, at the same time, don’t let overwhelm paralyze you.

Weigh The Value Of Spending Time Or Spending Money

Now that you’ve done a thorough analysis of the big picture, you realize the magnitude of what needs to get done while maintaining a life balance back home.  It’s worth considering which you have more of at this point: time or money?  You might be an at-home DIY’er and feel perfectly comfortable handling each piece of this project yourself.  But you’re also being reminded of the work projects and kids soccer games at home that need your time and attention as well.

Consider the value of handing off the project management work to someone who has resources at her fingertips, lives locally, and who can give you a weekly phone or email update on the progress of the project.  That might just be the ticket to help you sleep at night, and you might be pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t cost that much more.

Consider The Tax Or Medicaid Program Implications Of Selling Your Family’s Real Estate

Be sure to consult with your tax advisor and/or your Medicaid Application Consultant regarding how the sale of your Mom’s property could affect your financial picture.  You might find that, at least for a short period, it would be more advantageous to keep the property and lease it to a long-term tenant.  Your project manager should be able to help you with this aspect of the project as well.

Remember to Breathe & Breathe Often.

Through it all, you may find yourself so wrapped up in the “what’s next” that one small, but critical, detail slipped through the cracks.  Stop, take a deep breath, and slow the pace.  Always remember that breathing is your friend, and taking occasional deep breaths does wonders for mitigating the stressful feelings that tend to overwhelm.

Bonus tip: The last task you might want to take time to do before you head back north is to invite Marge, Mildred and your Mom’s golfing buddies over for a gin & tonic and thank them for their friendship.  I’m sure your Mom will love to see each of them in her new living arrangements now and again.  Leave contact information for both you and Mom and head home knowing how proud your Mom would be with the details you’d attended to.  And of course, remember to breathe.

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Sometimes you have no choice on when you need to sell your home a job transfer, you saw another home you really want to buy, or you have an unexpected life change.  Selling in the off season such as summer isnt ideal but it can be done, and its imperative its done the right way to get the best results.And, believe it or not, not everyone is on vacation in the summer!  In fact, some buyers have more flexible schedules. There are also plenty of buyers that are just getting their search started and those who didnt find the right house or got outbid during the busy Spring selling season.  Summer really can be a good time to sell your home to one of these off-season buyers who dont want to wait until the Fall or next Spring. Here are our must-do tips for that summertime sale:Target the Right Buyers for Your NeighborhoodAs we mentioned above, there are certain buyers who keep looking over the summer. But there are also buyers who are relocating to Bradenton/Sarasota and have to move pronto. You need to target these different types of buyers, tapping into their needs and wants for a home.If youre in an urban Bradenton neighborhood, with more young and hip buyers, then your focus is on first-time buyers who have more flexibility and may not have a deadline. But, keep in mind, that the buyers still looking into summertime are serious buyers and are ready to find a home and put in an offer.Youll need to price your home right from the get-go, be generous with your terms (offer to pay for closing costs) and make your home a summer retreat for them.Also be flexible with the hours you show your home. With daylight lasting well past dinnertime, be open to later showings. Younger, first-time buyers will find this time more convenient during their work week. Make sure you take advantage of these daylight hours!For Lakewood Ranch or a suburban Sarasota home, your buyers may be tied to the school calendar and want to settle on a home quickly. You still want to price your home correctly to bring in the foot traffic, make it as move-in ready as possible (theyre looking for convenience and dont want to deal with projects), and showcase your home so it looks like a great place for their familys summer staycation.And again, be flexible with your showing hours. Daylight savings means families are on the go later into the evening, but they usually find a lull after dinnertime perfect time for them to see your home.Showcase Your Homes Summer BestNow is the time to make your home shine on the inside and the outside. Make your home bright and welcoming a summertime oasis!Curb appeal and backyard staging will draw buyers in. You want buyers to want to see your home and then envision themselves relaxing and living there. Outdoor living space can be a big selling point, even in the summer in Florida.Plan to spend a little bit on some outdoor dcor, whether its a bistro table and chairs on your deck; patio furniture with colorful throw pillows; or a lovely wooden bench and flowerpots near your walkway. This may be a great time to work with a stager so you dont have to buy many items yourself.Dont skimp on or blast the air conditioning. Dont make your home hot and stuffy so that buyers rush through your home. Or dont make it too cold, that buyers sprint through the rooms. Set your thermostat at a comfortable and cool temperature. If youve already moved, make sure you time it so that your home stays cool during possible showings. Buyers will love to get out of the heat!Brighten up your home. Consider switching out dark colored pillows, throw rugs, curtains, and other dcor to lighter colors.  Clean the windows, open the blinds, and keep the lights on. Even though it doesnt get dark until much later in the summer, you still want to light up the inside of your home.Maintain your yard and water, water, water. Mow your lawn, trim your bushes and trees. Sweep your deck or patio regularly.  The summer heat can make your lawn turn brown water that and all of your flowers in beds and pots.Be prepared for getting your family out of the house. If you have children, selling in the summer can be difficult because they arent in school and are at home, possibly all day long. Hopefully you can keep your home in order as much as possible and develop a good exit strategy for those times you need to show it. Preplan so you know if you need to have a sitter, set up a play date, sign up for a camp, or head out for a long dinner.Putting It All TogetherAs you can see, selling in the summertime doesnt have to be a negative. Youll have more daylight hours to showcase your home, youll see more serious buyers or those on a deadline themselves, and many homes can look their best inside and outside in the summer. All positive!But do keep in mind that summer is slower and there will be less traffic to your home than if you listed in the height of the springtime selling season. That can be a chaotic and rushed time, so the lazy days of summer is definitely a different market. You must keep it all in perspective.Every seller has their own personal specifics and deadline when it comes to selling, especially if you need to list your home in the summer. You MUST know your market and neighborhood so that you price your home right and also have an idea of what you should or shouldnt be doing when negotiating terms.Im here to help you with a summertime sale. I have a sales plan to get your home sold as quickly as possible for the most amount of money possible. Id love to tell you all about it.  Simply email me and we can set up a time to talk and see if selling in the summer is the right move for you.


Im the fourth of five kids in my family.  By most accounts that would be considered a large family. At one time we were living in seven places from The Netherlands to Hawaii, and five locations in between. There came a time, however, when everyone felt drawn to re-congregate.  Eventually we found our family all in the same state again.Another oddity of our family was that both my parents (and my brother) asked me to serve as executor.  I considered it an honor to be asked and didnt know enough to protest!  Neither parent had vast estates, but living in the same area as they did made my job so much easier.Here in Florida, many seniors have family who still live up north somewhere other than Florida.  So, for them, choosing an executor means either choosing a local friend or relative (over 18 and never been convicted of a felony), or if they want a specific person to serve as executor from out of state, that person must be a blood relative or someone theyve officially adopted. Going through probate is the time it takes to settle the decedents estate, and/or proving the persons will.   Living out of state makes the whole process even more difficult and time consuming.If theres no real property to sell, then this informal administration process is referred to as Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration.  If theres no Will in Florida, then an individual will file an application with the court asking to be appointed as personal representative of the estate. The person serving in this capacity has the same duties as he or she would where there is a Will, but there may be more court supervision.An executors duties include gathering the decedents assets, paying valid claims against the estate, and then disbursing remaining assets to the heirs according to the terms of the Will.  Performing these duties long-distance is indeed easier today than in the past, but its always a great idea to have local advocates to work with, especially if theres real estate involved.   Choose a local attorney, financial planner, and real estate agent who are each well-versed in Florida probate.  Their guidance will be invaluable, especially if youre unfamiliar with the laws of the state and the probate process.I considered it a great honor to be asked to serve as Executor (in Florida the role is referred to as Personal Representative). However, once in the midst of the responsibilities, one does have a tendency to question ones sanity.  Nonetheless, to honor the deceased loved-one, one sees the job through to completion.Keep in mind that Mom could be faced with a life event that puts her in a position where she wont be returning to the house and you not only need to sell the home, but you have to find a suitable new living environment for her.Check back for future blogs that will discuss the daunting job of disposing of the physical belongings that a parent has left behind, or finding that new Florida community where she can thrive.Over the time Ive been providing our Closing The Book Program for Out-of-State Executors, Ive met a number of quality Attorneys, Wealth Advisors and CPAs whove answered important questions for me.  Id be happy to share their contact information with you.  You can reach me at Jude@JudeCreamer.com or 404.610.2907.Jude Creamer, Broker Associate, HomeSmart, specializing in facilitating successful real estate transactions for people in life transitions.


MY Dirty Little Secrets For Buying a HomeBuying a home for the first time can be confusing. Thats why I love to send tips and strategies that will set you on the right path. Its my own unique approach and a behind the scenes glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home.Did you know that some normal even harmless everyday activities could hurt your chances of buying your dream home?  You want to avoid any slip-ups that might make your lender think twice about processing your mortgage loan.Here are seven things that you should never, ever, ever, ever do during the time you are searching for a home:1. NEVER Change JobsStability is key when seeking approval from lenders, so the months leading up to your home purchase is not a good time to seek other employment or start up any new endeavors.While enhancing your career and moving up is important financially, you should wait until after youve moved in, or at least signed the final documents, to switch jobs or pursue any entrepreneurial interests.Remember, lenders dont want to take risks and are looking to loan money to someone who they know can pay it back. Leaving your current job can be a red flag to them!2. NEVER Pay-Off Creditors (without checking with your lender first)Sounds counterintuitive, but its not.  Certain loans require you to have certain reserves in the bank to qualify.  So, you might actually do more harm than good if you pay off your credit cards, student loans or any other debt you have.  Check with your lender first before you pay anything off. Having debt is not always a bad thing and may not be as big of an obstacle to your owning a home as you think. So dont pay it off unless your lender tells you to do so.3. NEVER Make Major PurchasesOne of the fun things about buying a new home is all the other new stuff that comes with it. Often, people want new furniture, appliances, and the list goes on and on!Most major purchases today require credit, and that means you dont want to have a large number of inquiries on your report during the loan process. Plus you dont want to have a higher debt-to-income ratio than necessary before you close on a home.Your best bet is to hold off on buying anything major until you have completely finished the mortgage process and youve moved in. That new car can wait!4. NEVER Have Late PaymentsYou should always make payments on time whether youre planning on buying a home or not.  However, in the months leading up to your looking for a home, you want to be especially careful not to be late on car payments, insurance premiums, credit cards, even parking tickets! This could derail the approval of your mortgage or increase your interest rate.5. NEVER Accept Out of Ordinary Bank DepositsLenders prefer to see proof that the bulk of your down payment fund has been in your account for at least two months also known as seasoning.As stated before, stability is key, so you dont want it to like look money suddenly moved into your account out of nowhere. This looks suspicious and may signify that you may be depending on family members or others for your down payment. (There is a way to get a loan or gift from family though!) The lender wants to know that you can afford and maintain a mortgage.6. NEVER Agree to Co-signYour home buying process is not the time to co-sign anything!  Even though youre not the one making the payments, and no matter how much you trust your beneficiary, co-signing a loan, no matter how small, increases your debt-to-income ratio.And a default on the part of the borrower can jeopardize your entire loan process.7. NEVER Have A Change in Your AssetsDont forget that youre already making a major investment buying your new home! Its not the time for other investments even if the stock market is bullish. Other investments would deplete your liquid assets that you need to make lenders comfortable, so youre better off waiting until youve officially bought your new house.Stay tuned for more behind the scenes glimpses of the dos and donts of home buying.