How Seniors Can Downsize When Moving Into A New Home


Author: Jim Vogel

After retirement, many seniors find that they’re ready to downsize a bit into a home that’s much easier to take care of. Moving into a smaller place can be a little overwhelming, but it’s often necessary for individuals who need to think about their health and what their abilities will be five or ten years down the road.

It takes some planning and preparation, but with some help from friends and family, you can find the right home for your needs and make decisions about what to take and what to donate, sell, and trash, as well as find financing.

Here are some of the best tips on how to downsize into a new home.


When you first begin thinking about making a move, go through your home room-by-room and take a look at each section with a sharp eye. Are there items that you’ve had for a long time but haven’t used in a while? Are your closets full of clothes you haven’t worn in years? De-cluttering your home will make it easier to start packing; start with a pile for items to donate, one for items to throw away (anything that’s broken or stained), and one to sell. You can have a garage sale before the move and make some extra cash.

For more info on how to get ready for a downsize, read on here.

Get Some Help

Ask friends and family to come over and help you go through your things. This is a great time to give some of your belongings to close family members if you don’t want to take them to the new house; go through jewelry, dishes, and mementos with your loved ones to decide who gets what. They can also help you with moving heavy boxes around, as this is something you shouldn’t do yourself.

Get the Right Financing

Look online to see if you can find special financing for seniors, especially if you have a disability or are considered to be low income. There are different programs for each state, so make sure you’re familiar with your home state’s guidelines.

Look for a Home that Fits Your Needs

Do some research on neighborhoods and homes that fit your budget. Keep in mind that some newer neighborhoods might have a bevy of expansive two-story homes with a scattering of smaller ones, so don’t rule out any one area until you’ve checked it out. One-story homes are often preferred by seniors because they are much easier to get around in and clean than larger homes.

Many seniors make the decision to downsize because they want a home that doesn’t have stairs to climb or a big lawn to take care of. Keep those things in mind when you’re looking, as well as whether there’s a neighborhood association that requires fees every year.

Find the Right Helpers

Finding the right movers for your big day is important, so do a bit of research to see which companies will offer the lowest price. Ask specifically about whether they charge a per-mile fee on top of the flat rate and if they require a minimum amount of work hours. If you have pets, you’ll want to make sure the movers are informed of what type you have and let them know if they should refrain from interacting with your pet.

Remember that this can be a very trying time; any big life change can be overwhelming, so take good care of yourself and remember to ask for help when you need it. With some preparation and planning, you can find the perfect home for your needs.

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What Are the Advantages of CPO?

How can you help your home stand out in the marketplace? One of the best strategies we use is getting the home “certified pre-owned.”

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A home purchase falls apart for one of two reasons. Do you know what they are? Either the home does not appraise or it does not inspect well.

When you have a house under contract, you want to ensure it closes. What if you could bulletproof your transaction from any hiccups? You can, by making your home a certified pre-owned home.

Let me ask you this, which is worth more: a car or a house? It’s not a trick question. Yes, obviously the house is worth more, probably twenty times more. So why would you treat it with less respect? You’d get your car looked at by a mechanic before you sold it, so it only makes sense to utilize the CPO program to get your home sold faster and for more money.

Whether it’s a resale or new home, you have a competitive advantage over other homes with a CPO home. It reduces stress, gives peace of mind, and gives you the contract to close security that your transaction will actually go through to the end.

The CPO program is a triple-pronged strategy. First is the inspection, then we have the appraisal, and finally the home warranty.

The idea of having your property or asset pre-inspected is widely accepted. Statistically, it’s proven that buyers and agents love CPO homes. Agents would much rather show a CPO home than one that isn’t. A CPO home is a win-win for buyers and sellers. Buyers pay more appropriately, and sellers make more money.

There’s much less stress with a CPO home. All the negotiation is done up front because there’s nothing you are hiding about the home and nothing for the buyer to uncover. Now let’s talk about step two, the appraisal.


Bulletproof transactions are the way to go.


The No. 1 fear of most sellers is that they are giving their property away. Having a CPO home prevents that from happening because an appraiser is going to give their honest and fair opinion of the home’s value, which you will then share with the buyer. Typical sellers don’t have hard evidence for their home’s market value like an appraisal, so it protects you from lowball offers as well.

Most agents and sellers use what’s called a CMA, a comparative market analysis. It’s a document that compares the home to other recent sales and helps explain why a home is priced where it is. However, the fact that the home’s value is still an opinion leaves the negotiation door wide open.

Appraisals are used by courts, banks, and lawyers as legal proof. Realtor CMAs, on the other hand, are informational and not defendable in a court of law. An appraisal always trumps a CMA because it is done by a state certified appraiser. This puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you the evidential advantage.

Finally, stage three in the CPO process is the home warranty. Now that your buyer has the appraised price and the inspection report, the home warranty ties up any loose ends in a nice little bow. In the first year the buyer owns the home, they will have peace of mind with a home warranty that covers the major systems in their house from any expensive repairs.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, is this the kind of sale you want? Bulletproof marketing and bulletproof transactions are the way to go, in our humble opinion. If you have any questions for us or want our help getting your home CPO before you sell, give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you.

What Can Thermal Imaging Do for You?

Thermal imaging is a useful tool for homeowners of all ages. Here’s what it can do for you.

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Why should you look at your home through the lens of thermal imaging? There are a lot of reasons including; safety, being green, and detecting unwanted moisture. We recently received a question from one of our viewers, Charles from Bay City, about the different things you can do with thermal imaging. To thank him, we’re sending a gift card his way. If you’ve got any questions for us and we end up making a video about it, we’ll send you a gift card too.

I followed Pat Nolan around in the video above, and you can see that the thermal imaging camera is a powerful tool to have as a homeowner. Get with your Realtor to connect with a reputable, local inspection company that has this wonderful technology. We’d be happy to do this for you.


This is a powerful tool to have.


If you or someone you know has any questions about real estate for future videos, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help add value to our relationship. Even years from now, if you have any questions we would be happy to answer them. We can also connect you with a top agent anywhere in the world where you are looking to move. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Quick Reference Guide to Environmental Questions For Home Buyer and Sellers

Lead Based Paint

Here is your quick online reference guide for home buyers and sellers looking for answers to some of the more common environmental questions in home ownership.

Are you faced with environmental concerns when looking to buy or sell a home?  Do you have friends that are?  Just a little more information from the right sources will lay your environmental questions and concerns to rest.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does offer guidance and self help direction for the most common concerns facing home owners and potential buyers.  We have listed below some areas for home sellers and home buyers with some solutions to these environmental areas of concern.  Bookmark this page for further research regarding the following environmental topics.

Lead – Could you have lead in your home?  Learn some of the facts about lead.  Read the Pamphlet “Protect your Family From Lead In Your Home“.  Visit

Asbestos What is asbestos?  And how to handle asbestos. You might be surprised.

Radon – Learn about Radon and Radon Mitigation Solutions. Radon and how to get Radon out of your home.

Mold – Not all mold is Black Mold.  Look here for answers to your Mold Questions in the Mold Basics

Picture3Carbon Monoxide – Know when to get out of the house. Carbon Monoxide can be deadly.  What are the symptoms?  Prevention is the key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning.

Arsenic What is arsenic? How does arsenic get into my drinking water?

Flood Cleanup – If you have ever had the problem of a flooded basement – Read about how to properly clean up after flooding to your home.

Green Homes – And just for fun – take a look at what you can do to  make your home even more Green.  Try out this interactive home and find ways to green up the interior of your home.

The topics above would also make for great science class discussions for your students at all grade levels.  We encourage you to bookmark this post as a quick reference source to home owner  environmental topics.

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Kathy Toth and Team, Keller Williams Realty, Ann Arbor Market Center, Ann Arbor, MI


Ann Arbor real estate taxes affect Ann Arbor Area Home Buyers| Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts| 734-669-0337

Washtenaw County Property Taxes Affect Purchasing Power and Tax Deductions809 Kingsley Ann Arbor, MI
With a wealth of on line resources,  a growing for sale by owner market, and countless educational TV shows,  it is no wonder buyers may take a do it your self approach to home purchasing in Ann Arbor.  But having access to data and correct interpretation of the information can be problematic.
When it comes to Ann Arbor Real estate taxes, knowing how the property taxes affect the home buying decision is important.  For point of reference, we are linking the Washtenaw County millage rates, Michigan Property Tax Calculation Explanation Video, and property tax calculator to determine the probable future taxes on your next home.  Future tax effect can impact your mortgage payments/ escrow account, so understanding this is important.
Take this example.  Buyer bought new construction that was basically taxed on vacant land as of May. In July, the assessor thought the homes was basically complete and the builder was just delaying finishing until he secured the buyer, so they assessed it 80 percent complete.  This assessment did not get reported until the Dec 1  tax bill was generated.  The home was completed, the buyer closed last day of November and in December received their first tax bill of $11,000.  The bill based on the June reported data should have been $6,000.  This was a huge surprise to the buyers and their attorney.

This example was for a property in West Ridge.  The buyer was in the process of waiting for the mortgage financing approval.  A new tax bill was issued to the Sellers and the taxes rose slightly.  The extra tax amount made the buyer unqualified for the loan and the buyer had to walk away from the house purchase.
Understanding  the difference between homestead and non homestead rate is important.  If the Seller vacated the property and lost the homestead rate, the buyer could be the recipient of a future tax bill nightmare surprise.  It is always wise for the buyer to check with the taxing authority to get confirmation on billing assumptions and calculations.  When doing your real estate property search, just check this link to determine where the home is located and what schools the children attend.
Referring to the chart again;
If a home is in Lodi Township Ann Arbor Schools, the homestead millage rate is 30.27 and  if State Equalized Value – SEV is $100,000,00 the tax Estimated Property Tax For Primary Residence or Qualified Farm (Homestead) is $,3027.00
If a home is in Lodi Township Dexter Schools, the homestead millage rate is 31.22 and  if SEV is $100,000 the tax Estimated Property Tax For Primary Residence or Qualified Farm (Homestead) is $3,122.00.  Based on the home purchasing budget and federal and State tax write offs, this may or may not be important.  Either way, having a professional guide you through  the Ann Arbor Area home  purchasing steps may prove invaluable.  Consider your buyer agent an indispensable partner in the home buying process.
SEV (STATE EQUALIZED VALUE) – is 1/2 the market value the local assessor assigns your property. So if the the assessor thinks your house is worth $200,000 then your SEV would be $100,000.   SEV is what the Washtenaw County local assessor thinks your house is worth. So just by multiplying the SEV by 2 will not give you what you can sell your house for or what it will appraise for.Your city or township assessor determines the State Equalized Value SEV based on a formula and other recently sold homes that are comparable. But remember when you get your tax statement that SEV is only what the city thinks it is worth not what your taxes are based on.

TV (TAXABL VALUE)When you buy a house, the next May the taxable value resets to equal the SEV.  If you buy an Ann Arbor home in Sept. The current taxable value is 100,000 and the SEV is $150,000. Taxes are $2000. So next year at the beginning of May the SEV and taxable value will both become $150,000 (unless the city assessor raised the SEV).  The State equalized value and taxable value becomes the same number. So in this example the taxes would go up to $3000 the following year.

So when you look at a property tax statement the main number you want to look at as a homeowner is the TAXABLE VALUE. That is the number you times by the millage rate to get the Michigan property number you owe.


Then after the first year taxable value resets the taxable value will go up the lesser of 5% or rate of inflation. But Taxable value can go down if SEV goes down to below taxable value or equal to taxable value.  This can be complicated, so make sure you research your situation.

Weather you are looking for the best deals in Ann Arbor foreclosures, Ann Arbor Area short sales, horse properties, or perfect Ann Arbor Area subdivisions, downtown Ann Arbor by U of M Campus, call your Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts to find the perfect Ann Arbor home: 734-669-0337.

What happens to the cost of a house if mortgage rates rise in Ann Arbor?




If a $200,000 home price drops five percent and rates go up by one half of a percent, the monthly mortgage cost still is higher!  House prices are rising and rates can only go up.  If you are looking at putting off buying or doing it this year, let’s talk.  Call 734-669-0337 and look at your situation.  Ann Arbor Homes and Condos For Sale

Bridgetown Condominiums in Chelsea, MI 48118, Chelsea, Michigan Real Estate

Bridgetown Condos, Chelsea, MI 48118Bridgetown Condos, Chelsea, MI 48118

Bridgetown is tucked away just north of the Chelsea Fairgrounds between South Taylor Street and Arthur Street in Chelsea, Michigan.  There are 69 units in the Bridgetown Condominium Development.  Bridgetown Condos got underway back in May of 1988. There is just one street that works it way around the cube  in this beautifully designed, well thought out complex.

Bridgetown Condos are comprised of 1 and 2-story brick and sided units with one and two car attached garages and back decks and some with enclosed patios areas.  The entire complex offers great curb appeal.

There are Several floor plans within Bridgetown Condominiums to the delight of residents.  Most units have sit-up counter space in the kitchen areas, great for entertaining.  Each unit has a basement perfect for extra storage or finished family rooms.  Though they were built in the late ’80’s they are designed with vaulted ceilings and spacious, open layouts for today’s modern, busy lifestyles.  Most units have main-floor laundry areas for your convenience.

Bridgetown Condos have an active homeowners association.  Residents take pride in ownership at Bridgetown Condos  which has helped to make Bridgetown one of the most desirable condo developments in Chelsea, Michigan for the past 20+ years.  Here is a copy of the Buyers Information Booklet, for Bridgetown Condos residents to review.  And did I mention that they are FHA approved, let your lender know.  Attached are the current  homeowner documents such as the Master Deed and Amendments:

Bridgetown  |  Bridgetown Condo MD  |  Bridgetown Condo 3rd Amm  |  Bridgetown Condo 2nd Amm  |  Bridgetown Condo 2nd Amm rerec  |  Bridgetown Condo 1st Amm.

Parents will be delighted to know that their children will at Chelsea Schools.

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Chelsea is a great place to live – convenient to I-94 for easy on/off  half way between Ann Arbor and Jackson. Chelsea is approximately a 25 minute drive to Ann Arbor.

We welcome your comments; if you live in the community, we want to hear what you think of your neighborhood and welcome your input to improve this Chelsea information.

Bridgetown Condominiums  |  Chelsea Ridge  |Chelsea Springs Condominiums  | Fieldstone Subdivision  |  Heritage Pointe   |  Pierce Lake Village

While you are in Chelsea, explore some of these great establishments such as the following:  Purple Rose Theatre  |  The Common Grill  |  Chelsea Center for the Arts  |  Chelsea Center for the Arts  |  Chelsea Clock Tower  |  Chelsea Teddy Bear Company  |  Chelsea Community Tour  |  Ellie’s Chocolate Cafe  |  Glee Cake and Pastry  | Silver Maples Community  |  Zou Zou’s Cafe

Other neighborhoods in the near by Dexter Community:

Bates Farms  |  Carriage Hills Subdivision  |  Castleton Farms  |  Cottonwood Condos  | Dexter Crossing Subdivision  |  Eaton Court Condominiums   |  Etta’s Valley Subdivision  |  Fidelio Vistas Condo  |  Fox Ridge Condos  |  Fox Run Subdivision  |  Gregory Farms  |  Huron Farms Subdivision  |  Huron View Court  |  Island Hills Subdivision with Video  |  Maple Meadows Estates Subdivision  |  Meadow Creek Farm – Dexter  |  Mystic Ridge Subdivision with Video  |  Stoneyfield Meadows Subdivision  |  The Glade Subdivision  |  Thornton Farms Subdivision

Find out more from the Kathy Toth Team.  Search for homes in the Chelsea, Michigan area.

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Seven Important Buyer Tips – Work with a Buyer’s Rep When Purchasing a Home

Interest rates at favorable levels and a good selection of homes provide an opportunity for Ann Arbor Area buyers. Here are a few things to for buyers to keep in mind:

1. Know what you can afford before you fall in love with your dream home.

2. Consider additional expenses that come with owning a home like property tax, insurance, and repairs.

3. Be flexible on the little things. It would be wonderful to find a home with everything you want, but those are hard to come by – distinguish nice-to-haves and must-haves early.

4. Have imagination and look beyond paint colors, wallpaper, or other easy and affordable things you can change.

5. Don’t compromise on the big things, such as enough bedrooms to accommodate additions to the family or space for an office if you work from home.

6. Always inspect even if the surface looks great; it’s important to know if anything major is wrong and what it will cost to fix.

7. Think about the future in regard to the neighborhoods, surroundings, schools, and developments. Be sure to check out our Ann Arbor Area neighborhoods with videos.


Currently there are 375 Active Listings in just Ann Arbor alone.  They range in price from $55,900 to $2,500,000.  This is a perfect buyer’s market with low interest rates.  Don’t rent when you can buy!

Meet the Kathy Toth and Team Buyer Agents.  These professional REALTORS are available to help you find your  Area dream home. To purchase a home in Ann Arbor or the surrounding real estate market, contact one of the Kathy Toth and Team Accredited Buyer’s Representatives.  Marcia White, Linda Woodard or Michael Dailey will take you through the entire buying process from beginning to end providing expert assistance every step of the way. 

Marcia White  – Associate Broker — An Accredited Buyer’s representative in the business since 1984, Marcia has experience ranging from an escrow closing officer to a broker owner with an international franchise.  She excels at utilizing this wealth of knowledge helping people fulfill their dreams of home ownership.  Phone:  (734) 395-8983

Linda Woodard – Associate Broker – An Accredited Buyer’s Representative with 15 years in the business, Linda specializes in helping our buyers realize their real estate goals. Linda’s knowledge of the market and needs of the people she works with makes her your greatest advocate.  Phone:  (734) 216-6804

For further information on Buyer Representation contact the Kathy Toth and Team Members at  734-669-0337

Search for homes on the market in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area.

Homestead Tax Relief to Ann Arbor Area Buyers

Ann Arbor Home Buyers can get the homestead rate June 1 and November 1.  Legislation Passed May 1, 2012 that will go a long way to ease the pain when purchasing a Principal Residence here in the state of Michigan.  Michigan residents have what is called a Principle Residence exemption which allows a considerable savings on tax dollars on their property tax bill when homeowners properly establish a Primary Residence Exemption.

The Michigan Legislators; the Michigan Association of REALTORS  (MAR); and other coalitions worked together to move Senate Bill 349, sponsored by Senator Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell) into action.   The final vote in the Michigan House of Representatives was 109-1 in support of the legislation providing a more adequate reporting process for all property owners.  Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law on May 1, 2012.  To take effect immediately.

MAR put together a brief Q & A on the topic which goes into more detail regarding the new legislation. When buying a foreclosed home that has not been homesteaded, buyers can report the new purchase to the assessor June1 and November 1 rather than wait once a year.  If you are buying a Ann Arbor Area foreclosure, let us know your concerns. 734-669-0337.