How to prepare to sell your home?

kate724September 27, 2008

Big house, lived here 36 yrs and we need to move. I don't know where to start. So much furniture, so much 'stuff.'

I am so overwhelmed,


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What a huge task!!!! But SERIOUSLY look through all your you use them? you need them?...if not, either give them away to someone who would use them (see if any of your children want anything), have a huge tag(garage) sale, donate it, or just take it to the curb.

I did this recently, just in case we ever get to put this house on the market...and you know, it really feels great to get rid of "stuff"....makes things look better and puts organization back into our lives.

When I thought of moving it, storing, moving it again when the house was built, it didn't take me long to get rid of it.....after all, "stuff" is not what is important in this life anyway.

After you have gotten rid of the things you do not wish to move, clean, clean, the things that need fixing, up-date a bit if needed.....but a sparkling clean house will sell better with some dated things than a dirty one with all the bells and whistles.

Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing in this overwhelming task.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:21PM
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Where are you moving to (in terms of comparative size, layout, etc)? That should tell you first of all what furniture you can manage to fit in the new place (one room at a time) and what not. Then remove 99% of 'personal' items (i.e. all pictures but 1-2 pieces of 'good' art and accent items that will set off the room, or individual tables, etc. vs family photos, curios, stuffed animals, collections of just about anything that are just clutter to people trying to get a sense of space and light in a room. The items you pack up (or sell and/or give away) may be the most beautiful things in the world to you, but understand that they're more likely to have little meaning to buyers looking at architecture vs decor - plus sit on your ego that wants recognition for how beautifully you've done the place - what counts is neutralizing it all now for strangers - save your creativity and imagination for the new place. If walls are bright or dark colors, paint them light and neutral. Remove border paper from walls as they date places terribly. Don't pay though to redo things (whether kitchen islands or flooring) if they're in good shape, as buyers will want to do their own thing. Do go over every inch of structural stuff from windowsills to the furnace room looking for what you can fix up yourselves and what needs professional help - then get it. People today often get their own inspection done (regardless of what buyers may also do) to be prepared for selling. In other words you'll have better luck if you can either fix things like faulty plumbing, or specify in your listing that you're prepared to allow so much for fixing the roof, etc. - but definitely discuss that with your realtor because there are too many scenarios to go into here about it, too many ways such things are handled. Keep your cool - you'll manage everything more easily if you pace yourself and don't try to do it all at once. Do keep EVERYthing on paper (where items are going, which ones are boxed for moving with you and what's in each box (generally, not necessarily every little thing!). Decide if what you won't keep will go to family/friends, or the Goodwill, etc. Once that's done, get those pieces either into storage, or directly to their new homes. What's left can be rearranged to fill in the gaps. Have labelled bins/boxes in each room to receive things either going with you, being sold or being given away (or trashed) and fill them as you go, and be strong - if you haven't worn something in a year, are you likely to need it next year? Keeping track's not hard, but losing it is easy if you start either rushing from room to room before dealing with each one, and try hard not to e.g. read every old souvenir note, etc. that you find - they can be too nostalgic at a time when you need to be efficient! Neaten up the outside property as well as you can - first impressions count. Note all the services that need telling of your move from the paperboy to the oil delivery people to the phone company, and arrange to pick up your medical records (if necessary) and those of your pets. Set yourselves specific times each day to just stop and relax! Do make sure your realtor shows you lots of comparable sales in the area from the last year, so you have an idea of what to ask (however much you might have put into the place over time... you may not see a direct financial result of it all in this bad economic atmosphere, but with a good clean, neutralized home, you'll have as good a chance as anyone else to sell as long as you can be realistic about a listing price (I personally prefer to not start at the highest end, and then possibly have to stick a 'reduced price' on the sign, as I don't know if that is going to impress anyone much), and think more about where you're going to vs what you're leaving behind. Good luck and relax, you'll manage just fine.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 9:24PM
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Thanks. Over the years I have cleaned out so many things (thank goodness) but I wasn't moving then. Now its different.

I know what to get rid of or give away, but there's so much I need to let go of. We also haven't decided where to move to. The way the market is, it might take quite a while to sell the house. We might just rent an apartment for a while until we decide. Very uncertain.

I just don't know where to begin. What to take, what to keep, what to give away.

This is a 'heart-breaker' for us and I would love to hear from other people who had to leave their home after so many years.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 10:09PM
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Kate - the posters on the Organizing the Home forum can help you a lot with dealing with the issue of letter go of things. Try cross posting over there.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:33AM
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So are kate724 and jane_ny the same person?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:48AM
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I'd tackle it one room at a time and be very honest and very thorough. And I'd start with these 2 rules...

If you haven't used it within the last 18 months, let it go.

If it belongs to your kids, make them come get it or you get rid of it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 8:50AM
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Hire a stager. They have the skills and the contacts to get your house cleaned out, cleaned up, and sold. We were very happy with our stager.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 11:10AM
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Susanjn, I was wondering the same thing!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 11:53AM
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Kate, DH and I are moving to a villa at a retirement community after 28 years in our house. Since the villa is so much smaller than our house, I hired a decorator to tell me what kind of furniture to buy and where to place it. She was worth every bit of her $50/hour fee. She recommended that I buy small chairs and couch. Excellent idea because I never would have thought of that.

I have boxed up china and crystal and we are moving those things ourselves. The movers recommended that we do that since they aren't packing them. I still have my everyday dishes and lots of kitchen items to pack. We are moving in a month. Yikes! I went through clothes and got rid of lots of them that I haven't worn for a year or more. I also got rid of my old Vita Craft pots and pans. I have replaced most of it over the years, but still had some left. They are so old that they couldn't be put in the! I bought them in the 50's.

I didn't know where to begin either, but I started with the corner cupboard and packed the good dishes and went on from there.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 6:48PM
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Thanks for the good advice. I'm having a more emotional time trying to decide what to let go. Because of family illness, we are forced to move temporarily to a smaller place. We have no idea how long or when we can move on with our life. My husband and I have hobbies and interests that are so much a part of our life. My husband is a musician and we have a large piano, tons of sheet music. The piano would only fit in a large room. He loves photography and that includes cameras, various printers, and framing materials. I have always been a gardener, both in and out and have so many houseplants, and lighting units. I also work in stained glass and have a workshop in the house.
We have so many interests, it feels we have to leave so much of ourselves behind to move. We've looked into storage options, but it would be quite expensive. Of course, there's all the things that are sentimental, were passed down from our parents. Just a lot of things. We've called various places to ask if they would be interested in old albums (husband must have a million stacks of them), books, stereo equipment. The local libraries might take some books, but my husband spent the weekend carting books back and forth and they only want certain books. The piles are back in our hallway. We also have so much furniture, most won't work in a small apartment.

We always planned to buy another house. Life didn't work out that way. With the market the way it is, heaven knows how long it will take to sell the house.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 12:00AM
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Kate, I'm sorry for what you are being forced to go through right now. Very hard.

Sounds like you started clearing out, next step is to take a deep breath.

What worked for me was to go to Target or Walmart, I bought various sized plastic bins. I collect Barbies, so that was where I started. If the bin had more room in it, I found other collectibles that would fit in the bin. For his sheet music, they also sell a bin that is great for something a little bigger then magazines, so it will be protected.

You want to invest in bubble wrap. Uhaul was cheap for moving supplies. They also sell boxes if you want to use them. For my more valuable or sentimental I did not box.

IMO, getting a storage unit is the best thing to do. We were going to get a medium sized one but after realizing how much we had we got a garage sized one and it was perfect. Yes, it's a bit pricey but what choice do you have? Are you going to throw out, donate or yard sale your whole life? I was not willing to do that, nor was I willing to lose money on stuff I love. The other option is to ask family to hold stuff for you if they are willing.

So, 1st you pack collectibles, or in your case the hobbies you listed. Next the extra stuff laying around, nick knacks, pictures. I did not put away every family picture, left one collage frame in each kids room, a table top wedding pic and a Christmas pic when my dad was still alive. It's a peeve of mine seeing no family photos in houses for sale & opinions vary. I've read posts where sellers missed their family photos so much. Leave out the most special ones to you, just don't over do it.

Next, pick a room. I used to start in my daughters room. I took everything she didn't use. Clothes got put in bins & into storage. Everyone had a few long sleeves, a jacket and some summer clothes. The bulk went to storage.

With the books, call your local school system, they might take some. I've donated stuff like magazines to guidance or the child study team. You can also go as far as donating other things, one used to love donations of beads so that when the kids went down for cool down time they had something to do.

If you want to post where you are located, someone might be able to suggest specific places to donate stuff.

I'm leaving a link to a post I started way back when, lots of good info in it

Here is a link that might be useful: Sellers, what are you doing to prep?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 12:42PM
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Thank you Roselvr, that is quite a large post. I will sit down and read it all later in the week. We looked into storage places and I was surprised at the cost. The cheapest I found was $150.00 a month for 8X10 on the second floor. That won't fit a large piano. Problem is we don't know how long we need to rent. If I could afford it, I'd move everything in and not deal with it.

Thank you for the link, I'll enjoy how others prepared for this major life change.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 11:02PM
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I am doing the same thing, getting rid of "stuff" and moving to a smaller place.

I am lucky in some ways, because I want to get rid of things ! A few months ago I just went through and piled it all up to give to the charity shop. I cried when I did my son's toys, that was very heartbreaking, all those memories.

My most difficult thing will be my mother's (she has passed away) paintings. I have them all over my walls, some I just love and will keep, but the others..well what can I do with them !

Books....I have been selling my daughter's books on ebay, and giving he money to her, so she is pleased. That worked well for a while but now its slowed down.

It is a difficult change in your life, but I feel a sense of freedom at not having so many possessions.

Take care

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 7:13PM
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