Pre home sale prep anxiety

TriciaDecember 28, 2010

Any tips for dealing with the anxiety and overwhelming "to do" list in preparing your house to go on the market. We have a 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bath we would like to put up for sale in the spring in an effort to downsize.

My husband is going through the fix it and renovate it "to do List" while I work on the declutter, clean and stage "to do list".

Any tips for making this more efficient and less painful. It is not emotionally painful. Just onerous. At this point I have decided to go through room by repair, update, clean and stage and then close the door and go on to the next room.

All suggestion are appreciated.

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If it were me, I'd tape a big list of everything you need to do on the wall and cross things off as you finish them. That always keeps me motivated, to see progress through crossing things off.

I'd also do one room at a time, as you've outlined, doing both the fix-its and the staging, before you move on to the next. That sense of completion also helps psychologically.

As you're decluttering, work on selling the extra stuff, and put the money you get into a fund that you do something fun with once the whole project is complete.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 7:19AM
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First of all just relax. You actually do know what to do.

Go through each room and make the list of what needs to be fixed and what needs to be de-cluttered and staged.
I would suggest renting a storage bin to get all the stuff out of the house. Remember to go through your closets and remove clothing that you will not need to make the closet space look bigger.

If you can, a fresh coat of paint in a few rooms never hurts and its a cheap fix-up. Just time consuming. If painting or even if you don't, look for popped nails in your drywall. Fix them all.

Wash your windows.

Best of luck.

Enjoy the journey.
eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 7:30AM
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I did this a few years ago and had a long to-do list. I didn't have as much time as you do, but maybe that was a blessing because it forced me to work steadily.

An overall list of what needs to be done is important, so is a TODAY list, prepared the night before so you can turn off your mind when you go to bed.

The room-by-room approach sounds good generally, but there are not a lot of rooms you can finish and then not use for months or weeks. And projects like decluttering will likely have you working in several rooms.

Don't put off cleaning the often-used areas thinking that you will do a huge clean at the end. When the listing date comes around, it's easier to clean a slightly dirty refrigerator than it is to tackle a full cleanout and scrub.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 8:49AM
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I am going through exactly this situation, now! We have lived here 29 years, and just let "stuff" accumulate. I saved baby items, then as the kids grew, I saved things, etc. I have been doing this for a month, and started in by taking extra things out of the closets, kitchen cupboards, things that would be opened up to look into, by prospective buyers. Then I started on the bathrooms, and then kitchen. Those are the rooms that people, especially women, will scrutinize. Painting of baseboards, walls where pictures were removed, bookcases, etc.
Now I'm concentatrating on overall cleaning.
We had to get a storage unit, in which to put all the extra stuff. It actually is liberating to get all the extras out! You really can get along without all those things in the boxes! LOL

We will put the house on the market in a week or two. Unfortunatly, the garage has received alot of the clutter, also. Have to work on that, without time to have a garage sale. Bad timing.
BTW, we live in SC and are moving to Georgia.

It can be overwhelming, especially if there is 29 years to go through. Otherwise, just keep on everyday, sorting, and boxing, and cleaning, and allow time to rest.
Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 10:39AM
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Our house is on the market, and like you, we are wanting to down-size from our 4 bed, 3 1/2 bath to something much smaller.

When I started the down-sizing project, I asked myself..."Is this something I want badly enough to pack, store, move and unpack again?"...if the answer was "No", then I asked my children if they wanted that item...and if they said "No", then it went on my garage sale or donated.
It is amazing what you can part with and the clutter is gone.

Then I did as you did....made a list of every room and what needed to be done that would make the house show better. Unless your walls etc. are in need or some wild colors, my realtor said not to paint because the buyer would only want something else...if the sale would come down to the "paint color", we are offering to paint whatever their choice is before we leave.

Clean, clean, and clean some more. I keep a basket that I put "every day stuff" in and take it with me in the car when I leave for the showings. The thing that is hardest for me to keep clean is the windows. They are casement and everytime it rains (or snows) they look terrible and it is too cold now to wash windows on the outside.

It is overwhelming, but you have time on your side...don't go at it like "killing snakes" or you will exhaust yourself.

Good luck and I hope houses are selling there better than they are in central Kansas!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 11:41AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The biggest mistake people make with "decluttering" is to just keep the clutter elsewhere. Renting storage units for "stuff" that won't fit in a downsized new home just postpones the "donate or throw away" decision. Take digital pictures of the stuff that makes a memory smile and that you can't physically keep in a shoebox. Have one shoebox per person in the house, and that's it for sentimental items. If the item is larger, like Grandma's dining table, then pass that along to another family member, even if it's a cousin rather than one of your children.

Remember, you're "downsizing" for a reason!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 12:46PM
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I've moved a number of times. I always start with the storage areas. Attic, basement, garage. They have the most stuff and are the hardest IMHO to clean out. Having them emptied or pared down to almost zero makes it easier to move stuff out of the house you at least then have a place to put stuff as you remove it from the rest of the house.

Unless you have the time and help to do a garage sale it's much easier to either donate stuff or put it out on the curb with a big FREE sign.
Hauling stuff to thrift stores or charity organizations is time consuming and costly especially if you have to make multiple runs a far distance from your home or work.

If you have a storage space off property then only put into that which you plan to take with you but you'd prefer to remove to make rooms/closets look bigger. Have all the small stuff packed for a move. properly wrapped, labeled and sealed. NEVER write on a box that Grandma's china is in this box. Instead use numbers and a master sheet to identify what is in a box. It cuts down drastically on theft when moving.
I like to have a spiral notebook when I move that all my important papers and notes go into. It stays with me at all times.
I'm a big believer in tackling the harder rooms to clean first. Normally when you start decluttering your energy level is higher in the beginning as the days past and you work on this people have a tendency to get frustrated. So going from the hardest rooms to the easier rooms can help keep energy levels both physical and mental up It also helps if you have someone to help you do the decluttering. A good friend that will keep you on track, and maybe make you laugh a little as you do this very big chore.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 2:34PM
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I think the best way to stage a room is to completely empty it, clean the living daylights out of it, paint if needed, and put a minimal amount of furniture back in -- a bed, dresser, and lamp; or small dining set; etc. and very little on the walls.

A note about storage units. I know people who pay months and YEARS of rent on them, far beyond the value of the stuff inside. So keep in mind that the cost of storing and moving stuff may be higher than selling it off and buying new "stuff" at the new house.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 3:25PM
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I agree about the storage units. In our case, we only needed it for two/three months, so it will be worth it. But if needed for a longer time, it can be quite costly.

When I began this PIA, I felt like I was moving things from one place to another. But finally, I see a big dent made in the process. It will be worth the effort you put into it.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 5:03PM
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Thanks for the pep talk! I needed it.

I have the luxury now of it being only my husband and myself so we can shut off many rooms as we complete them.

Your suggestions to make a more specific list by room is helpful. Graywings, you suggestion for both an overall list and a today list is perfect for my current state of feeling overwhelmed. Phoggy, I like the idea of a basket that I can take with me when I leave to allow a showing. I was imagining I would be running around like a chicken with my head cutoff trying to stash things that I use daily but don't want out for a showing.

I hear the chorus of voices telling me to be very discriminating about what I box up and save for the next house. No storage unit for us. I love my local freecycle, goodwill and craigslist.

Foggyj, good luck with your sale. If you moving to the Atlanta metro area I have a nice house for you. haha

Good luck with the sale of your houses. Thanks for the tips.

Back to work for me.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 12:21AM
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That is a good tip about gathering up personal things to take out with you, for a showing. I already have my tub ready to throw stuff into! Don't forget any important papers. (people will be going through your house)

As a matter of fact, we are moving 35 miles south of Atlanta.
If you need to move without the house being sold, as I asked in a previous thread, check with your homeowners insurance agent. I'm concerned with vandalism in an empty house. It would be unlikely in this neighborhood, but you never know.
Back to work for me too!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 10:21AM
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Take not only your papers with you when you leave for a showing but any meds any one in the house is taking.
Jewelery, guns, high end electronics,cellphones anything that can easily be slipped into a coat pocket or give a would be theft an idea of what you have in the home dollar wise should be removed and/ or put in a safe.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 2:54PM
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Good advice. It would be almost impossible to prove, if something were to be stolen during an open house. I will of course, ask the realtor to stay with the people, but that may not be possible all the time.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 7:55PM
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I sold a lot of things on Craigs List. I did it like an open house and advertised things I was selling and planned it for one weekend. I had many people come and couldn't believe how much sold. People even bought things I wasn't selling but decided to let them buy it.

We rented a storage unit because we really staged the house removing a lot of furniture we thought we'd want in the next house. Not sure we should have.

We had a lot of books and old albums. Brought them all to the libraries in our area. They took them but that was a job because they are so heavy.

We began collecting boxes from the liquor stores in the area. Gave them our phone number and we would pick up the boxes weekly. Liquor store boxes are great. They are strong and just the right size for books.

We started working on our house exactly a year before listing. We had some major repairs to do and it gave us time to get it done.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 12:47AM
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Looking back, when dh and me sold our house in '08, we had that place looking so good! My dh did an awesome job on the yard, it looked like a park. We sold in July in the PNW so everything was in full bloom and the grass was spectacular! I had hanging baskets off the front porch and a couple as you go through the slider onto the deck. We spent alot on repairs and landscaping but we didn't do alot of upgrades inside. I cleaned and painted and I staged the house. It still took us four months to sell and we dropped our price a couple times. Never want to sell in a "climate" like that again!!
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 11:09AM
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You're getting lots of good advice. One nice thing about your timing is that you'll be a new listing as the spring house-hunting season begins.

When it seems like a PIA, just remember that clean, staged homes sell faster for better prices.

I would suggest getting boxes from the paint store, the ones 4 gallons of paint come in. They're free, abundant, and because they're all the same size, they'll stack better in the storage unit and in the moving truck.

Good luck with your projects and the sale!

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY Home Staging

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 12:37AM
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