Closets and Basements and Garages - getting ready to sell

pixie_louMarch 9, 2014

Hi everyone. I'm relatively knew to this forum, but have been on GW for years. A re-districting of the schools in our town has prompted us to consider moving across town. So our child will not have to switch elementary schools. I have a preliminary meeting with my realtor tomorrow morning. I already know that I will need to rent a storage unit and move half of our belongings into storage. And rent a dumpster to throw the other half away. And clean. And clean. And clean again.

My question is about the basement, garage and closets. How "empty" should those be? For instance both the garage and basement are lined with stainless steel storage racks. The areas are "neat", but all those racks are full of boxes. The garage is full of sports equipment and yard and garden supplies. The unfinished basement is full of tools and holiday decorations. The finished basement is full of computer supplies for dh's consulting business. The cedar closet is full of off season clothes. All the floor areas are empty - it's just all these shelving units are 90% full.

I know these are the areas where most of the stuff would just go in a dumpster. So I'd love to take the time to go through it and make informed decisions. I don't want to just move the boxes to deal with later - why pay movers and pay for storage for stuff I will eventually trash? I can get the rest of the house cleaned and decluttered and packed in less than a week. I'd like to take a couple weeks to go through this stuff properly.

FWIW - we live in Boston MetroWest. Of the 24 homes currently listed for sale in town, only 7 are priced below $1million. We are in the lower end of the market, I'm guessing we will list in the $600k range. Homes in our price range are typically under contract within a week.

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I agree that it makes sense to get rid of things you don't need or want, rather than store and.or move them later. The question of how much uncluttered space may be better answered by your realtor. They do this all the time. Ask your realtor for their opinion. If you have the time to go thru it all, take it and make the move in easier. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:58AM
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If you're going to get rid of it anyway, I'd definitely take the extra 2 weeks to do it now. I'm impressed that you can do it so fast. :-)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:08AM
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If houses sell that fast in your price range right now then I would put it on the market while doing the cleaning out. Although I would consider doing the finished portions before putting it on the market - cedar closet and finished basement. The garage and unfinished basement you could do while on the market if they look neat as you say.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:19AM
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I say go for the major haul-away. I'm trying to get ready for a move next year and the amount of junk in my house was the first thing I needed to work on. Last weekend we rented a 20 yard dumpster. When they delivered that to my driveway I thought there was NO WAY we'd be able to fill it up. ... Turns out I was wrong!

I actually have a nice garage and decent size closets, who knew? Now to keep it nice and tidy until we're ready to sell!!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:09AM
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Do you really have to move? You should be grandfathered in to the school you already attend, specially if you only have a 1-3 years of elementary school left. You would have to drive your child to school as you would then be on the wrong bus route. You want an INTRA-district permit.

We used to live in the Boston burbs. When we moved to CA we rented first so my youngest went to elementary school A. Six months later we found a house to buy, but it was in school B area. Son did not want to have to move schools again, so we filled an Intra-district form and he still had 3 more years to go. People move within town, but the kids are almost always allowed to stay in the school they started at.

Unless you want to move for other reasons too, I would look at your options. Will you be able to find another house if the market is a as tight as you say?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:55AM
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Thanks for the input. I know it makes sense to get rid of the stuff instead of moving it. So this really becomes an issue of - do I need to empty these areas before I list the house for sale? My husband is a bit of a pack rat (seriously dear - why do we need to hold onto floppy discs? To prove to your clients that you've been working in IT since before they were born?). And I will never get him to agree to throw his stuff (or even the household stuff) out until I can put a dollar value on moving it.

The tentative plan is to have the house in ready condition to list. Then start looking at new houses. When we find a house we like, place an offer with a 2 week selling contingency. Hopefully the sellers will sympathize with our school redistriciting issue (it's a hot political issue in town) and when they hear the sub-development we live in now, they will accept our contingent offer. And if they don't agree, we decide if we want to risk 2 mortgages.

Waiting to hear back from the realtor regarding comps, then I'll need to talk to my mortgage guy and my RE attorney. Then look at my bank balance. The figure out a plan on where to go from here.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Do all of your prep before listing, you won't be sorry. If you can, send your child to grandparents or a friend for a long weekend where you and your husband purge and pack. Then have the realtor and/or a staging consultant ($100-$200 of money well-spent) look things over and give you another to-do list. You can expect the most intense interest and highest frequency of showings right after listing. Make a good first impression, sell maximum clean and fresh space.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 3:22PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I would do it before listing. You will have plenty of things to do in the period of time before the closings on houses, do not add to it. I would go through things now, get what I could in a storage unit so that I could then move it when i am ready. The more things you can knock off of your to do list before the house sells equals a significant amount of stress that you have minimized for your family.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:18PM
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As a home buyer, I would want a sense that the closets are spacious, so doing something with them makes sense (to me). But I would be fine with neatly stacked boxes in a basement and garage.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 8:00PM
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Empty them out. It seems that the less stuff you have in a house the better it shows. Get rid of what you don't want and put the rest in a storage pod (that includes half (at least) of your furniture).

We got rid of a ton of stuff while packing and still had a lot of "why did we keep that?" moments on unpacking 8 months later.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 10:56AM
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We moved last year.

I moved 55 containers to MILs basement. (I had a notebook with the contents listed so I could go hunt for something if I needed.) We filled a 30 yard dumpster with the throw-outs.

Our basement showed great. Because it was empty except for the storage shelves. We had to do that for the painters to get in there. Everyone loved how much storage it offered, because the nearly-empty but staged look with only with cleaning supplies made it seem bright and so large. We moved out the holiday decor, crafting items, and old photos and toys in those 55 bins.

When we decluttered/staged the bedrooms and living areas, we moved several large furniture items into ý of the garage. Mistake. People wanted to see the garage and that they could fit their car, bikes, mower, etc in it. Didn't seem to matter that the other half was empty since we parked our car there. For whatever reason, people believe it when they see it.

And OMG moving is so hard, the more you can do now and put behind you the better.

So from my experience, get it out if you can. Either disposed of, or packed and stored.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 6:40PM
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Also, regarding bedrooms and closets.

We removed þ or more of the clothes from each bedroom. It's like you are packing for a 3 week trip, except that is what will STAY in the closet. Everything else goes. I got bored with wearing the same thing to work for a month, but honestly it made the closets look huge and organized, and extra bonus all of the off season clothes were already packed.

Furniture-wise, in each BR we had only the bed, side table with lamp, and then 1 other piece of furniture. It did make the rooms seem huge.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 6:46PM
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