Roadmap with Irina - March 2022

Roadmap with Irina - March 2022


Hi <<First Name>>, 

The real estate market didn’t show any signs of a slow down last month. The median sale price for single-family homes in February 2022 went up 6.8% compared to January 2022. Condos and townhouses showed an even greater increase in sale price of 15.9%. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, with quickly rising prices for single-family homes, condos and townhouses are becoming an affordable alternative for buyers. 

Many factors could impact the real estate market: increasing interest rates, world-wide events, inflation, low inventory – but looks like none of them really slowed down the rising prices. Every house is sold with multiple offers for above the expected selling price. $1 mil over the asking price for a single-family home is not uncommon. Appraisers are having a hard time estimating homes, and many homes are not appraised to the sale price. 

It’s hard to predict what to expect in the near future. We are in the full swing of the spring market and currently there are 969 homes for sale in Santa Clara County which is not enough for the huge buyers’ demand. I will keep watching the situation and will be happy to share my observations with you. Let me know if you want to know more or have any questions about the market. If you know someone who might need my help, please introduce me to them. It is never too early to get ready.


A couple of weeks ago I started working on a house that was occupied by the same family for decades. The family decided to sell the house and needed to clear it from the treasures collected over years. Family members took all that they wanted to take, and they didn’t know what to do with the rest of the belongings. It was hard for them to let go of something that can serve other people. We did serious research and found a great company that sorted out all belongings, sold some valuable items, donated others, and cleared the rest. All work was done within 2 days only! I was really impressed with the efficiency and speed of their work. Let me know if you need their contacts, I will be happy to share.

While we were looking for professional help, I found this article in Houzz magazine that I would like to share with you. The article is written by Jeanne Taylor, a professional home organizer in Alameda. I hope that you will find it helpful as well.
“Recently I assisted two clients who were responsible for clearing out their parents’ house. The spacious residence, purchased 50 years earlier, had once been home to a family with five children. Sadly, both elderly parents had recently passed away and the home needed to be emptied out and put on the market.

Tackling an enormous project like this following the passing of a loved one can be exhausting under any circumstances. However, managing the process during the pandemic, when resources are limited, can be fraught with even more emotion, conflict and frustration. I recommend the following tips if you’re faced with a similar task.
1. Obtain Professional Advice

Consider consulting with a local real estate agent and estate attorney to receive guidelines on the estate. For example, in some states, heirs are required to pay capital gains taxes on any increase in the price of the home from date of death to the close of escrow.

A local real estate agent can provide information on which improvements and repairs are necessary before selling the home. This may affect your timing. For example, if the home needs new paint, flooring or some kitchen and bathroom upgrades, it might make sense to clear out all the furniture and other belongings before the work begins.

In my experience with clients, once a listing contract is signed with the real estate agent, there’s often pressure to move things along quickly and get the house on the market. If you’re not emotionally prepared and need more time to process your parents’ belongings, I recommend holding off on signing the agreement.
2. Allow Yourself Time to Grieve

One of the biggest regrets I often hear from friends and clients is that they didn’t allow more time to clear out their parents’ home. In some cases, the home is emptied out directly after the funeral, when emotions are raw. Heirs can feel pressured to move quickly in order to please other family members; I sometimes hear sad stories from heirs who gave away things they wished they hadn’t.

I’m not recommending delaying the process indefinitely. If you have the luxury of waiting a few weeks, I suggest giving yourself time to grieve before rushing into clearing out the home.

Don’t feel guilty if you truly do not want any of your parents’ belongings. Many heirs already have established households and may not need more furniture or decor. However, given time, you may see your parents’ possessions in a new light and might find ways to incorporate a few memories into your home.

3. Encourage Family Members to Take Their Personal Belongings

The easiest part of the job may be distributing personal items such as old yearbooks, record collections, musical instruments and sports equipment to their proper owners. While sifting through the house, use blue painter’s tape or sticky notes to label items and create categories by owner.

Once you’ve collected 10 to 12 items, take photos and forward them to each person. I suggest not sending too many photos at once, to avoid overwhelming the recipient.

Sometimes adult children don’t want any of their childhood belongings and items can be donated or tossed. “Keepers” can be packed into moving boxes. Label the boxes right away with the name of the owner and a list of contents. Family members living locally should be encouraged to pick up their belongings in a timely fashion.

4. Assess Interest in Other Household Items and Furniture

Often, personal property such as jewelry, artwork and antique furniture is not expressly mentioned in the will. The process of dividing up the more valuable possessions can lead to conflict among heirs.

I suggest that each heir create a wish list of items. When the lists are compared, you may discover that many objects are on only one list. If two or more heirs want the same item, attempt to work out an equitable solution while prioritizing the importance of personal relationships over material possessions.

5. Establish the Value of Antiques and Vintage Pieces

Many items left in the home may go unclaimed. Consider offering these belongings to grandchildren, cousins or other family members not mentioned in the will.

Many of my clients overestimate the value of inherited belongings. Sometimes a quick online search will determine the worth of an item. If you suspect that a piece of art, an antique chair or a special ring is of great value, consider finding a local auction house. Many will accept a photo and provide an approximate value.

6. Ship Furniture and Boxes to Out-of-Town Heirs

Once items have been divided up, they should be packed in sturdy moving boxes, padded with packing paper or bubble wrap and secured with quality moving tape. Label each box with the recipient’s name and address. Also label it with the intended location in the home, such as “Dining Room” or “Kitchen.” A brief list of the box’s contents is also helpful.

Coordinate with a reputable moving company to move furniture and boxes to out-of-town heirs. The lowest bid isn’t always the best deal. Read reviews carefully and, if possible, get a referral from a real estate agent or friend.

7. Sell Leftover Items

Before the pandemic, it was possible to hire an estate sale company to clear out the rest of your loved ones’ belongings. However, many estate sale companies have suspended that activity. If you do have an estate company available in your area, be aware that they generally receive 30% to 40% of the gross proceeds from the sale.

Look for a company that arranges to have unsold items hauled away after the sale and promises to leave the house completely empty. Don’t expect to make a great deal of money on this sale. The goal usually is to clear out the house rather than to make a large profit.

Another option may be to contact a local consignment shop or use an online marketplace. Often, it can be difficult to find a buyer for these items. You may end up giving them away for free. When negotiating directly with a potential new owner, remind them to provide their own truck and the muscle to move the furniture.

Even though you probably won’t receive much money for your parents’ precious furniture, at least someone can give the pieces a new home. Also, giving furniture away will save money on fees for hauling or junk removal companies.

8. Coordinate With a Local Charity to Pick Up Donations

Unfortunately, many charities don’t accept furniture, but you can donate smaller household items, decor, kitchen items, clothing, books and costume jewelry.

When working with clients, I generally coordinate with a charity to pick up donations directly from the home. You can usually schedule a specific day for pickup, and most charities will take 15 to 30 large bags at a time. Some will take more if their truck has the capacity and you give advance notice.

9. Find Out What’s Provided by Your Waste Management Service

I suggest contacting the local waste management company to find out the services included with the monthly fee. Some company websites have detailed information online but others require a phone call to receive up-to-date information.

Each waste management company offers different services, which may vary among cities. Some include a pickup of up to 15 large trash bags one time per year. Others charge a small fee for each additional bag. In some cities, you can order a dumpster once annually to get rid of excess trash.

After exhausting any services included with your fees, most companies will deliver a large dumpster to your home for an additional cost. Often you have one week to fill the dumpster with trash or broken items that can’t be donated. Using the resources of your waste management service is usually more cost-effective than contacting a junk-removal company.

10. Have Any Remaining Trash Hauled Away

Your real estate agent can usually recommend a reputable hauling company to take away anything left in the house. This should be your last resort since these items are destined for the landfill. This is a great way to dispose of large or bulky items that can’t be donated or placed in a trash can. For example, a broken outdoor umbrella or excessively worn couch can be picked up by a hauler. They generally charge by the load plus dump fees.
Keep in mind that clearing out an estate is an extremely large job that comes at a time when emotions may be frayed. Be kind to yourself during the process and take breaks when necessary. Accept help from friends or loved ones if offered, and perhaps hire professional help if you become overwhelmed.”

Everyone knows what is going on in Ukraine. It’s all over the news, everybody is vocalizing their thoughts, fundraisers are being organized, anti-war meetings, petitions, etc. And I keep silent about it.  Here’s why.

I was born and raised in Russia, in Siberia to be exact. Both my parents are half-Russian and half-Ukrainian. My mom, older sister, nephew and other relatives live in Ukraine. My brother, his family, and lots of my friends live in Russia. I always kept both countries in my heart because I have my loved ones living there and I have fond memories about both countries and great people. And living here I know wonderful people from both countries, from many countries actually, that I love and respect, because nationality is not important to me, I just see personalities. 

I don’t watch the news as many people do. There is lots of fake news from both sides, and we will never know the truth, so I cannot blame one side or the other. I cannot stand thinking about how many people lost their lives just because they happen to live there. This is all politics, and while the heads of all involved countries are standing their ground, people just want to live. My heart and feelings are numb now. I’ve seen and heard enough news to take my position, but I am not going to express it publicly. If I am not vocal, it doesn’t mean that I am ignoring it, I just do it my way.

I pray every day for both countries and for the end of this devastating war. I hope that all our efforts will help to restore peace and good relationships as we had before. Sending you my love and warmest wishes. 
Love you all,
Copyright © 2022 Sereno Group, All rights reserved.

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Work With Irina

Working mainly by referrals, I do my best to provide excellent real estate services to my clients, always exceeding their expectations. Whether they are buying or selling, I walk them through every transaction step, making it transparent and smooth. My relationships are always based on open communication, loyalty, and true commitment.

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