Living my Second Act? Maybe more like my third, or my fourth. I’ve stopped counting. Through it all, there have been moves. I’ve sold, bought, rented. I’ve upsized, downsized, renovated. It’s a lot to handle! For many of us, moving is an emotional decision as well as an emotional experience. For me, my divorce catapulted me into a plan. Let the kids finish high school, and get out, start fresh. Having a course of action is a tremendous help. Now that I’m happily back in the real estate business, I am providing my clients and friends with the following steps to take to get ready for your next adventure.
- Even if you think your move is a year or two away, start cleaning out now. It’s a lot of work and easier to knock off whatever you can while you’ve got some time. Cabinets full of photo albums? Box them up and store out of the way. Better yet, take the photos out of the albums, organize them into large, labeled baggies, and drop them off with a company who digitizes. Instead of moving heavy boxes, you can upload your new thumb drive of memories and share them with your children and family.
- Toss the tchotchkes! The stack of vases that came with flowers delivered over the years, the junky placemats you never use anymore, the stuff thrown into the kitchen drawer that no one can see. Toss, toss, toss!
- Ah the kids. Even though they are grown and not living at home anymore, closing up their childhood bedrooms is not easy. Go to Home Depot and purchase two or three extra-large plastic bins with covers for each child. Let them pile in their trophies, yearbooks, and treasures. Whatever fits in the bin, you will keep for them until they have room of their own. (Wrap fragile items and protect in boxes if needed.)
- Getting ready to put your house on the market? Call the mover now! Do a walk through with your mover and identify any pieces of furniture that you know you will be keeping for your next place, but may be bulky and taking up too much space in your house. Throw what you can into storage for a couple of months. Open up the spaces in your house to create an airy atmosphere for potential buyers.
- Sorry, but the family photos must come down. Take them off of the walls, and off of the shelves. If you can stand it, take them all away. If not, store at least fifty percent of them. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the house. Make it easy for them.
- Organize your closets. All of them. You know prospective buyers are going to open the closets and cabinets, so make the place sing. Get rid of old coats, shoes, the kids’ clothes they left behind. Pack up the toys you kept for your someday grandkids and neatly store them in the garage or basement.
- Hire a Real Estate Broker. And then listen to her or him! I know you think your house is worth more, we all do, but a home priced correctly has a much better chance of selling as a fresh listing. Think of what you’ll save in taxes, mortgage costs, insurance, utilities, etc. if you sell and get out. Believe, me I learned this the hard way.
- Downsizing and don’t know what you’ll do with all of the house items you don’t want anymore? Call an Estate Sale company as soon as you’ve hired your Real Estate Agent! These companies are busy and you want them to be ready for you as soon as your house goes under agreement. Interview a couple of companies and let them assess the success of a sale. It’s a great way to have other people pay you to take away everything you don’t want. If not a full-fledged Estate Sale, plan and advertise for your massive garage sale and let it all go.
- Once the sale is complete, you may have furniture and items that did not sell. Contact a consignment furniture store and have them come take a look. Sometimes they can carry items away to their shop, but you might have to hire someone with a truck to move bigger pieces. It’s worth it and cheaper than paying the movers to get rid of unwanted items.
- Hire a cleaning company to get rid of anything that’s leftover and do a thorough wipe down of the whole place.
Hand over the keys and move on to your next act!
I am a Realtor with Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Real Estate, just outside of Boston. If you are in my area and ready to sell your home, or buy your next one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As your realtor I will be glad to share my list of resources and will work with you to get everything accomplished. Not in my area? Call me anyway and I will personally connect you with a qualified realtor in your neighborhood. You are not alone! I know what needs to be done and I take great care of my clients. Happy Moving!
Excellent advice from someone who has gone through the process and is now trying to clean out a parent’s home who did none of this.