When you’d rather be living at the lake house


Dear David,

My husband and I are retired/semi-retired. We’ve been living at our lake house for a few years and have decided not to move back into the large family home we bought decades ago. The house is 40 years old and in a mature neighborhood. It’s full of belongings and heirlooms. We are only there for a few days each month to declutter. At this rate, the job may take years and going home isn’t enjoyable. Can you give us some options? – OVERLOADED

DEAR OVERLOADED: I discuss this with dozens of clients each year, many of whom are trying to decide where they will go when they sell their family home. Your situation is unique in that you’ve already embraced your next chapter. Now you’re trying to dismantle your previous life a few hours at a time, which can feel as tedious as draining a swimming pool with your morning coffee cup. We typically talk about decluttering before a move rather than afterwards on an absentee basis, but that’s okay — no matter where you are in the process, the starting point is the same.

First things first: pick out the treasures and heirlooms you want to take with you to the lake house. I suggest walking through your home together and taking note of anything you wish to keep. Some people go so far as to mark these items with a sticky note or dollar store sticker. Next, invite your kids, family and friends to pick out anything they’d like. Give them a short period of time to do so (a week or two rather than a month) so they don’t derail your moving plans.

When you’ve dispersed what you can into your personal universe, call in an auction company. These organizations will sift through everything in the house, from furniture, to dishes, to garden tools and Christmas ornaments. They’ll identify anything that has value, photograph it, and sort it into lots for online sale. The auction company gets paid a percentage of what they sell, so they won’t overlook anything. When the sale is complete, they collect the proceeds, disperse the remaining items, and do a final cleanup so the house is ready for me to take to market. The process is like a yard sale on steroids. It takes about a month to complete, and while the work is underway, you can be enjoying your morning coffee at the lake house, rather than negotiating a price for your 30-year-old cross country skis.

Given the age of your home, certain items will need to be renewed, repaired or replaced as time goes by. I often hear it said that properties in general require a 1.5 to 2 percent annual investment to keep them up to today’s standards. That’s obviously not a hard-and-fast rule, but these values tend to accumulate when big-ticket items like roof, HVAC, windows and kitchen renovations rear their ugly heads. Because you’re away from the house so much, insurance may also be a challenge. Insurance providers typically want to be informed if you’re not in the house each day, and if you’re away for extended periods, your coverage may be limited.

PRO TIP: You can buy a lot of things in this world, but you can’t buy more time. You’ve already moved on to a new life, so get the help you need to wrap the old one up in weeks instead of years. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiatorDavid is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.