Do I WANT that or do I NEED that?

Last month, at the request of an adult daughter,  I met with a woman I will call Sarah. “I’m done” the daughter said.  “My Mom needs to move into assisted living.  She can’t take care of her home anymore. Every time I stop by I pick up Amazon packages off the front porch.  She keeps bringing more stuff in this house that has too much stuff.”

What this mother may not realize is that her choices have burdensome consequences for the children she loves.   Stuff is just stuff.  Most of it is not a “need.”  In our youth we had the luxury of bringing a lot of “wants” into our home: impulse buys and on-sale clothing, magazine subscriptions and wreaths (for all seasons), Fall decor and Christmas decor and Easter and Halloween.  Tablecloths for birthdays and spring and Thanksgiving. Get the picture?  Of course, many of you are LIVING the picture.  In our youth we have the realistic expectation that we will use and enjoy our ‘stuff.’ But after middle-age this tendency needs to stop. Why?  Because we are entering years when our lives can and may change very quickly and someone else is going to have to, quite literally, clean up our mess.

What can you do?

Begin to be purposeful about your shopping.  Before buying (even if it’s a bargain!) ask yourself: is this a “want” or a “need?”  If it’s a want, what are you going to remove from your home to enjoy this new thing?

Take something out of your house every time you go out the door.  Make a habit of filling plastic garbage-type bags throughout the day. What needs to go to Goodwill? What might a friend need?  Put the bag in the car and do a drive by your favorite donation site.

Start small: Don’t commit to big projects that are likely to overwhelm you.  Instead of “I’m going to clear the basement this week” start with “I’m going to clear one shelf in the basement this week.”

Is your buying an attempt massage an emotional need? Anger? Boredom? Loneliness?  Be honest with the need and find appropriate and healing ways to cope rather than add to the problem by draining finances and adding “stuff.”

Back to Sarah.  Let me tell you what I see:  I see the aftermath of your inability to make hard decisions.  I see adult children and spouses spending months clearing your stuff. They are  wracked with grief and guilt.  It drains emotions, calendars, and bank accounts and many times does irreparable damage to the relationships left behind. Is your ‘stuff’ worth that?

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

Homeowner Associations: Demon Or Deliverer?

I recently drove up to a listed property to meet a client who wanted to tour it.  The home was located in a nice suburb with manicured lawns and a price point north of a half million.  The house next door to the listed property had a chain link fence in the front yard. It was out of place and unattractive. My first thought was “Why  hasn’t the Homeowners Association dealt with that? “   My Buyer decided against pursuing the home I was showing him in no small part because of the neighboring home.  Further investigation revealed that there were no deed restrictions in that community.  It was an “anything goes” environment which allowed for a chain link fence in the front yard (or bright purple paint or an 11-foot concrete bird feeder on the front lawn or anything else the owner deemed attractive.)  Score one for homeowners associations. (HOA’s)

Here is another example, personal to the author of this blog.  I lived in a condo association (COA) and worked from home.  One of the by-laws in the condominium declarations prohibited a garage door from being left open.  I lead a team of agents.  I kept the real estate signs for our listings in my garage.  When an agent needed a sign he/she would text me as they were approaching my condo, I would open the garage door to allow them to retrieve the sign.  Then I would close it when they left.  Rarely more than five minutes open.   I received a notice from the President of the Association with a listing of specific dates and times my garage door was open over a period 60 days.  The notice read, for example, Saturday, July 11 opened at 11:05, left open for 4 minutes. This notation over a dozen times over 60 days.  This kind of oversight creeps into the “Mrs. Kravitz” realm. For those of you in my generation you remember the “Bewitched” television series in which nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz peered from her window to keep tabs on Darrin and Samantha Stephens.  This kind of overbearing interference in the personal details of life is what most people want to avoid when they request a home without a homeowners association (HOA.)

So what is the balance?  Generally HOA/COA’s are good things.  They protect the value of the home by setting uniform aesthetic standards of the home and lawn.  They put legal leverage behind taming loud parties and that neighbor who keeps a broken down car in front of their home. The more active associations promote social events and neighborliness by organizing block parties and holiday gatherings.  When the Association overreaches it is usually the act of a person or persons, not the fault of simply having rules.

Avoiding HOA/COA’s is increasingly difficult.  The rules are automatic if you are buying a condo as your ownership is limited to the inside space of your home.  Most communities built after 2000 have professionally managed HOA’s as they are seen as necessary to maintain the value, aesthetic and peace of neighborhood. To avoid an HOA you are often limited to older homes or rural homes not in a planned community.

As a Buyer the review of the rules of an HOA and COA is essential.  By buying a home in an HOA managed community you are agreeing to the rules (even if you didn’t read them.) The By-Laws are laws.  They have the same enforcement power as speed limits on the interstate.  If the Deed Restrictions say “no sheds” you can be forced to remove your shed even if it’s a pretty one.  You will also be charged a fee for the privilege of the oversight.  This fee is usually monthly for a condo and annually for homes.  This, too, is not voluntary.  If you don’t pay a lien will be put on your property.

A good Realtor® will provide a copy of the Deed Restrictions to review prior to purchasing and many purchase contracts include a contingency to allow you to read and review the rules you are buying into.  Do your due diligence before buying to make sure that fence your dog needs  is allowed in the home you are buying. (Or the dog is allowed in the condo your are buying. )

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

How are your Social Investments Looking? (2 of 2)

I was 53,  recently divorced and trying to “enter the world” again.  Not the world of dating, just the world.  Fun. Dinner. Kid-less socializing.   A friend had invited  me to a “meet up” at a local restaurant.  This dinner ‘date’ was with 30-40 other single adults who gathered once a month for a social outing.  At this point in my life I was at the top of my game professionally.  My face was on billboards.  My voice was on the radio.  I spoke at seminars.  And yet, I sat in the parking lot of this restaurant battling the mental insecurities of a teenager.  Meet with strangers or go home and watch  reruns of The Office?  Just as I was putting my hand on “reverse” to meet up with Steve Carell, my friend saw me and motioned me in.  God Bless her.

I tell this story to illustrate how hard it is to start or re-start relationships late in life.  When we are 10 there was a playground to interact with 50 peers and we narrowed to our two favorites. Where is that playground at age 60?  Between the ages of 20 and 50 we tend to narrow our focus to those precious people inside the walls of our house.  Maybe a few other parent-friends here and there, but social interaction apart from children is rare. By the time we retire we are like the audience in a magician’s act.  “Where did all the friends go?”  And, yet, the richness of these friendships is what multiple studies tell us will bring us a longer and healthier life.  A Harvard University study found that close friendships and a sense of purpose lead to a reduced risk for Alzheimers, stroke and heart issues.  And, well, friends just make us happier.

A recent Wall Street Journal* article highlighted that the lack of social investment for post work years can be highly detrimental to retirees. Alarmingly, two-thirds of adults over the age of 60 have no close social circle outside of a spouse or family members. (See an earlier blog I wrote on  ‘Social Capital’.)  You go online and pull up your investment records to assure yourself that you are prepared for the non-incoming producing years ahead.  But, are you prepared emotionally?  Just as you will be rewarded with financial stability for your effort investments in youth, have you put the same effort and investment into life outside of work? Studies consistently show that  sufficient financial assets may bring peace of mind,  but money doesn’t equal satisfaction with life.

Using a very old adage: Money can’t buy happiness.

What does bring fulfillment in retirement?   Friendships.  Learning. Pursuit of purpose and  “fun”.  All of those things we set aside while working and raising a family.  Easily said.  Difficult to do unless you apply energy, time, and intent.  Let me be honest, it’s work.  Sitting at home watching re-runs is a whole lot easier than getting dressed and pretty and starting a conversation with strangers. Here are some tips:

Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.  Remember this old Girl Scout mantra? It’s great advice.  The earlier you start the better.  Purpose to spend time each week to meet someone new or keep the flame burning on an older friendship. Reach out of your comfort zone to make new friends with shared interests. Local senior centers, online support groups, churches and synagogues can be a place to meet other like-minded men and women.  Reach out and invite someone to meet you for lunch.  Buy two tickets and invite someone.  I used to sit at the “community” table at a local restaurant.  It was a large table sat aside for diners who were alone.  I met some great people at that table.  Take up a hobby, sport, or pursuit that interests you.  Keep in mind that you are not aiming for a “bestie” at every engagement.  Finding the right group of friends takes time and repetition.

I had one retired client, Ruth,  tell me that her goal is to have one appointment a day before noon.  That “appointment” could be a seniors yoga class, volunteering at a food bank, or meeting a friend at Starbucks.  The point?  Ruth has a reason to get up every day, get dressed and be on time. (Like we did at work for decades.)  After decades of this pattern Ruth is the Belle of her own ball, often having to turn down invites because of her crowded social calendar.

The payoff? I recently took inventory of my close friends, groups, and social engagements regularly on my calendar. Virtually none existed ten years ago.  Each are valued and cherished, but more importantly give me a secure knowledge that I have social investments that will likely last longer than the money.

* The Wall Street Journal. (December 29, 2022 “To Invest for Retirement, Build Friendships and Hobbies” by Anne Tergesen.)

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

How are your Social Investments Looking? (1 of 2)

In a span of three weeks in July of 2013 I got divorced, closed on the sale of our 16-year family home, sent my two  youngest kids to college and put my head on a pillow in a rented condo.  I woke up the next morning feeling like a grenade had gone off in my life.  Admittedly, I had thrown the grenade, but the result was the same.  I had to take a serious re-evaluation of my life and it wasn’t healthy.  At age 53 I had no friends, no hobbies, no “fun” in my life.  (So as not to offend those who knew me, loved me, helped me through this period, I do not mean to discount your friendship, you know who you are and you are cherished.)  But, in reality, my days were filled with two things: kids and work.  The further the kids migrated from the nest, the more I worked.   If my quality of life were put in balance the “work/financial” side would hit the table and the “relationships/joy” side would be hanging perilously in the air.

On that morning in 2013 I remember asking myself “If I were me, what would I enjoy doing?  If I were me, how would I make friends?”  Then I purposefully set out to answer those questions.  With the shamelessness of an Amway salesperson I approached casual acquaintances and invited them to lunch. I bought tickets to the Broadway Series and invited others to go with me.  I went to the Waterfire on the Scioto display by myself.  I went to art shows and Christmas craft fairs.   I joined a hiking group of much younger men and women. On one trail I met Patti, my age, who is still one of my best friends.  I joined a restaurant tasting group and a Book Club.   When dining alone I found the “community table” and talked with strangers. Slowly I built a rich life outside of selling houses.

I thought of this personal history while reading an article in The Wall Street Journal. (December 29, 2022 “To Invest for Retirement, Build Friendships and Hobbies” by Anne Tergesen). It details the lengths  to which men and women  go to prepare themselves financially for leaving the workplace while putting virtually no thought into the equally important challenge of cultivating relationships and interests that fill the “nowhere-to-be” hole.  It quoted Harvard University studies that consistently find quality relationships outweigh blood pressure as a predictor of life longevity and happiness.

Borrowing a quote from that article, Yale University Psychology Professor Dr. Laurie Santos put statistics behind what I found to be anecdotally true:  “We think friendships just happen and if the friendship is genuine we won’t have to put the work in.” But, she says, research suggests the opposite.  On average it takes 200 hours over four months to build close friendships and 60 hours to establish even a casual friendship.

Just as the old money adage suggests that investing earlier is better – the same is true for relationships and avocational pursuits.  It is normal to be “in-focused” when life is filled with small children, school, shuttling to extracurricular activities and all of the time-sucking pursuits of raising a family.   The mistake most retirees make is waiting too long to become “out-focused”.  At age 53 it took me 2-3 years before life was “full” and the scales were somewhat balanced. That goal was reached with good health, financial stability, and great effort.  To do the same at age 73 is, for most, not possible.  These purposeful “investments” in your long-term well being should start much earlier.  Evidence suggests that even the mid 40’s is an optimum time to begin making those ‘deposits.’

How can you start retirement “investing” in your emotional well-being?  That’s next week’s blog.

House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

There is always tomorrow…

There is always tomorrow.  Until there is not.  I thought of that after my conversation with Christine.  She called me because her husband, Patrick, died unexpectedly last summer. She was getting ready to sell their home and move to the mid-Atlantic coast, something they had always talked about.


The move to North Carolina was just one of many things she and Patrick planned to do.  They planned a trip to Ireland.  They planned to go watch Patrick’s beloved Yankees play at Yankee Stadium.   They always wanted to take a cruise to Alaska and had never seen the Grand Canyon.  They were in their early 60’s, just at the age they thought they had to be to “have the time.”  Old enough to have lived a book, young enough to create their own last chapter. “We always thought we didn’t have time in the present.  And we always thought we would have time tomorrow” she said.


Christine called me because she knew I helped people get rid of stuff. She and Patrick have a home filled with very nice furniture.  She didn’t want to just give it away, she said.  “It’s not your standard furniture,” she said.  “I have a sofa that cost $12,000 and it’s hardly been used.”  In fact, she said, “I can’t remember a time we sat on it together.” I explained to Christine that, in spite of what she paid for it and its exceptional condition, she would be fortunate to get 10% of its original price on the resale market.


It’s a conversation I’ve had dozens of times with my downsizing clients.  As they prepare to get rid of stuff, I prepare them.   I make sure the understand that there is very little value in anything they have believed to have value: their collectibles, their furniture, and their antiques. With the exception of fine art and jewelry, gold, silver, guns and cars, there is very little value in anything we have inside the walls of our homes.  And, it’s very difficult to get rid of most of it. (See my earlier blog about re-homing pianos.)  The truth is, if you sell everything “sale-able,” give away what is wanted, and dispose of what is left, you might break even.  (Did you know that the cost to have a 2400 SF home professionally cleared of “stuff” averages $14,000?)


Several days after my conversation with Christine, she called me back.  Christine also knows that I regularly speak to large groups of men and women facing retirement and downsizing.  She made me promise I would tell you something. After she got off the phone, she looked at the $12,000 couch.  She thought about her words to me: “I can’t remember a time we sat on that couch together.”   “Please tell this group to invest in memories, “she said. “Patrick and I could have flown first class to Ireland for the price of that couch.”


Let me bring her wise counsel down to earth: maybe you don’t have a $12,000 couch.  But most of us continue to spend money on things we don’t need when we are just a few years from the day when it will all need to go out.  We are a culture that has multiple holidays in which we bring new stuff into our homes with no thought or plan to get rid of it.   Take the $50 you were going to spend on (yet another) fill-in-the-blank and ask yourself “How can I create a memory instead?”


Be purposeful with the days left.  We don’t even know if “days” is plural.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

Reputation Matters (Part 2)

The Bible is a terrific business manual.  There are principals in it that have instructed business owners for thousands of years and guide me daily.   In the book of I Peter there is a verse that says: “See to it that your conscience is entirely clear, so that every time you are slandered or falsely accused, those who attack or disparage your reputation will be shamed [by their own words].”  (1Peter 3:16) What this verse says is that your behavior every day contains the building blocks of your reputation. Who you are when no one is looking (your conscience) is who you are. This private reality will ultimately be public – for better or for worse.


If your reputation can be seen as building – every word you say, every phone call/email/text you make, send, and respond to is a brick.  Every interaction with client, colleague, or potential business contact is a brick.  The way you live, the way you treat people, your relationships, who you choose as your friends is the mortar that secures the bricks.


Here are three things a reputation of integrity does for you:


Your reputation proceeds you.  Realtors® work in a world in which we rarely meet each other. We talk on the phone, we text, we email sometimes for decades without meeting each other. This business relationship means that your reputation is often formed in the minds of your colleagues without ever meeting them.  Who you are in person will confirm or negate what they have heard.   Studies indicate that by the time you are in a face-to-face meeting with someone as much as 80% of their opinion of you has already been formed based on what others have told them.  What have they heard?   The day-to-day mundane interactions in your business create a picture of what can be expected of you.


Your reputation quiets critics.  Like the verse in 1 Peter says: the most effective way to quiet critics is to live a life that defies their words.  None of us are perfect.  We make mistakes.  We say things that we regret. We learn better ways of treating our colleagues and clients as we mature in our professions.  But the whole of your behavior should stand as a testament to your good character.   When criticism is voiced, the mind of the listener should think “that’s not the (your name) I know or have heard about.”   At very least, it puts the benefit of the doubt on your side until the facts are known.


Your reputation invites forgiveness when mistakes are made.  Your life should invite grace from others when we make mistakes (as we inevitably will.)  A good reputation is not a life of perfection.  It is a life of purposeful and intentional decisions which reflect the principals by which you desire to live, work, and build a business.  There will be times when you miss that mark.  When that “missing” is the exception in an otherwise good reputation the party you have harmed is much more likely to recognize it as such and forgive.   It is the reason that mistakes made should be ‘owned’ and responded to with honesty rather than covered up, dismissed, or responsibility deflected.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

Reputation Matters

I recently had an, ahem, let’s say a difference of opinion with another Realtor.  This Realtor told me to do what he directed me to do, or he would “ruin me” with attacks on social media.  My reaction? Like the thoroughbred horse with a fly on his tail, it’s a nuisance. The horse knows it’s there. But he’s too busy winning to bother giving it any attention.  Why?  Because I know I’ve spent 25 years building a reputation that will take more than a social media tantrum to destroy. And it’s a reminder how important it is to decide who you are, what you stand for, and what you want that reputation to be before anyone knows you’re in the race.


The Kathy Chiero Group real estate team sells 200-ish homes a year.  That means our agents deal with hundreds of homeowners, thousands of our Realtor® colleagues and their Buyers, and dozens of support personnel.  Michael Jackson once said, “the bigger the star the bigger the target.”  Not to put ourselves in the realm of MJ, but it is inevitable that while crossing the paths of this many people we are going to cross swords with a few of them.


How do you build a solid reputation?  First, you write a Mission Statement.  Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your goal as a professional? How will you serve your clients? Next, you measure everything you do by that statement. Do you say you are excellent? Then measure every day’s activity by excellence.  Do you say you offer the highest caliber representation to your clients?  Learn what “highest caliber” is and do it.  Do you say you are honest?  Don’t lie.  Do you call yourself a professional? Be on time. Be prepared.  In fact, read the Boy Scout Law – that’s a great outline for a mission statement.


It’s the simple things that matter.  Return phone calls.  Cross ’T’s” and dot “I’s.  Know your craft. If you don’t know something, have the humility to ask.  If you know something, have the humility to answer without condescension. Give. And Give Back. Contribute to the careers of others.   Thank those that contribute to your betterment. Let your word be your word and don’t go back on it. Do the right thing even if it costs you money, time, or embarrassment.  Admit when you’re wrong, stand firm when you’re right.


Do that for a decade or two and you’ll have a sterling reputation.  Occasional attacks on social media?  A flick of the tail and you’re on your way.  Focus on the track and get back in the race.


Next week I break down how a good reputation serves you in business (and life).


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

The Piano

An odd thing happened in my real estate business this summer. Orphaned Pianos.  Everywhere.  Every home.  It seemed that every home I listed had a traditional piano to sell. To donate. To give away. To … please someone take it.  At one point I had five homes listed with homeowners desperately trying to re-home their treasured instruments. One was a gorgeous Grand Piano meticulously maintained by a Grand Master pianist.  She ended up giving it to the Buyer of the home because she couldn’t find anyone to pay for it and no donation site wanted it.


The other commonality about these homeowners is that they were all shocked to find out a not-so-secret secret: very few people, schools, or institutions want traditional pianos.  Like entertainment centers and China cabinets these once treasured and saved-for pieces of furniture are gathering more dust than treadmills with fewer takers at home sale time.


The why is simple: like so many things in our lives the technology that makes up digital keyboards has become much more advanced and produces a sound that is often almost indistinguishable from acoustic (traditional) pianos. In many cases, you will have to listen to a digital piano several times before you will be able to detect any differences in the sound between the digital piano and acoustic piano. Digital pianos are smaller, take up less space in a home, and are easier to transport.


Digital keyboards can be found cheap.  While the sound may not be the best, it’s perfect for parents who want to start with a minimal investment road-testing their child’s commitment to practice and lessons.  By the time the child’s proficiency grows and commitment is proven, the child’s comfort level is on a keyboard, not necessarily piano keys.


True pianists adore their aesthetics and the way that they look in their homes and appreciate the significance of keeping the traditional construction of pianos alive. But, just as the boxy televisions and wedding China that went into the hands of our kids landed on the shelves at Goodwill, so the pianos are finding little audience or space in the homes of any but hard-core loves of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, or Rachmaninov.


What can a piano-owner do?  Start early.  Call your local piano store.  Many have websites with buy-back options.  Don’t expect big dollars.  Be thrilled to get free pick-up as even the piano stores have become very picky about what they will put on their showroom floors.  Call schools, universities, and nursing homes but IF they want the piano be prepared to be asked to pay the cost of moving the instrument to them. Selling your home?  Ask the Buyer if they want it.  Sometimes the home it’s in is the best home for it.


House Call is a blog written by Kathy Chiero, Licensed Realtor and Team Leader of The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus.  Find Kathy and her team at

WE need to downsize. My Spouse/Partner says, ‘No Way’. HELP! (Part 5 of 5)

If you’re just jumping into this Blog series, I encourage you to go back and read Parts 1-4.  I’ve been sharing about my experiences as a residential Realtor® working with the Over-55 homeowner.   In this capacity I often work with couples who are not in agreement on the need or desire to move to safer or smaller living spaces. Today we are going to talk about Reason #6. I have saved it for last because it is the #1 problem homeowners have when made the decision to downsize: getting rid of stuff.


We are a culture of stuff.  We have all sorts of events and celebrations to bring stuff into our homes: birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, anniversaries, housewarmings, etc.  We have only one ritual (that I can think of) for getting rid of stuff: garage or tag sales.  The result is that after years in a home, our decision to downsize may not be OUR decision: it is often dictated by our willingness and ability to get rid of stuff. For many homeowners this is perceived as an impossible task or, at every least, not on the top of a “to do” list and therefore suffers death by procrastination.


6) Unwillingness to give up stuff.  This point of resistance is extremely difficult because you may be in a situation where stuff does rule your decision.   Getting rid of personal items, furniture, and other detritus of our lives after decades in a home is hard, time consuming, expensive, and physically exhausting. This is true if there is no emotional attachment to the items.  If there is an emotional inability to get rid of things the move will be virtually impossible and requires professional intervention.  I won’t deal with that in this blog.


I have found that generally an over-55 homeowner has the capacity to clear a home, but that ability diminishes as one ages.


Age 50-60: Most homeowners have the mental and physical ability to make and execute the decisions involved in clearing their homes.

Age 60-70: Health and physical limitations begin to inhibit the ability to remove things or cognitive issues cloud the ability to make decisions.

Age 70+: The ability to clear a house is often not possible without third party help.


The first thing I ask you to fully grasp is this: Someone must do it.  If not you, it will be your adult kids, friends, or other family members.  Do you want to pass the burden to them?  Do you want them to be in your personal items and making decisions for you?  Clearing a home is a tremendous amount of work and expense.  I have had adult children tell me that getting rid of Mom and Dad’s stuff took a huge toll on their lives.  In addition to the physical burden of doing it, the task strained marriages, finances and relationships, permanently divided siblings, and delayed or squashed the ability to grieve the loss of a parent.


“Claire” told me that 3 years after clearing her dad’s home she was still angry at him for putting the burden on her. Prior to his death she and her brother had begged their father to deal with his “stuff”.  They offered their help and assistance, but he refused.  The settling of the estate and getting rid of her dad’s household items took 18 months of weekends, evenings, and holidays. It kept Claire and her husband from going on vacations and even put off having their first child because she knew she had to get this task off her agenda before she could be a mom.  Only recently did she begin talking with her brother.  The task had put so much strain on that relationship that she thought the estrangement was permanent.  Do you want that for your family?


Experts have said that it takes one week of full-time clearing of a home for every year you have lived in the home.  I think that estimate is optimistic unless one hires professional help.  Most of my clients have said it took them months, even a year or longer to be ready to move to a smaller space. Hiring a third-party organizer is very helpful and expedites the process.  Be prepared to spend $10,000 or more to clear a traditional 4 BR 2.5 bath home, more if there is stuff in a basement or garage.


Finally, recognize that if you don’t make the decision to clear your home and downsize, the decision will be made for you.  Age is not a respecter of our timetables or desires.  There will come a day when a medical emergency or even death takes this decision out of your hands and puts the task on others.  Be proactive and in control of that path by getting started now.


This blog is written by Kathy Chiero.  Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors.  Kathy has written a resource for Central Ohio homeowners who wish to get rid of stuff.  Find Kathy’s book “Got Stuff Get Help” at our website  Thinking of Buyer or selling a home?  Find Kathy and her team at

WE need to downsize. My Spouse/Partner says, ‘No Way’. HELP! (Part 4 of 5)

If you’re just jumping into this Blog series, I encourage you to go back and read Parts 1-3.  I’ve been sharing about my experiences as a residential Realtor® working with the Over-55 homeowner.  No matter how much we love a cherished home, age and health catches often force a decision to consider downsizing.  Relationship problems arise when the recognition of a need to slow down and “move down” the housing ladder is not reached at the same time by two partners.


In my previous Blogs I offered suggestions for countering resistance points #1-4. Today we are going to look at #5.


5) Fear of the unknown: I don’t want to give up what I know for a future I don’t know.  As we age change becomes more difficult.  We know our streets.  We know our mail delivery person. We greet Larry at the deli in our grocery store.  We know and trust our neighbors.   Starting over is hard and not a welcome task for many.


This challenge is tackled by turning and “unknown” into a “known.”  Fear is often based in lack of knowledge.  I recommend visiting some of the communities under consideration.  If you are considering retirement communities attend a ‘lunch and learn’ or tour the community.  Ask to speak to a resident who faced the same challenges.  The staff at these centers understand the fear you face and are ready to answer questions.  If you are considering a purchase of a smaller, single-family home, patio home, or condo contact a good Realtor® who has knowledge of the differences in these kinds of housing and what they offer you.  I have often introduced the “nervous new-bies” to my clients who already live in a community under consideration.  This firsthand, empathetic knowledge is often the best source for answering questions and calming concerns.


Finally, understand and remember that you have “changed” through seasons of your entire life.  The transitions from grade school to high school to college to marriage to children to empty nest…on and on.  You survived, adapted, and, for most, thrived.  This transition can be the same.  While tinged with some sadness and reluctance, this last ‘chapter’ can be one filled with great new memories, friends, and traditions.


Next week’s blog will look at how to combat resistance point #6 Unwillingness to give up stuff.


This blog is written by Kathy Chiero.  Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors.  Thinking of Buying or Selling?  Find us