It is time to downsize and sell your house! You are ready to call a realtor! Exciting!!
Getting a house ready to sell in a short amount of time for the best price becomes overwhelming fast.
Look around. Do you see stuff everywhere? Are your closets, cupboards, drawers, and basement all full? It’s commonly called “Clutter”. Clutter doesn’t mean everything you have is junk or garbage, much of it is things you couldn’t part with. Most of us have a ton of things that we no longer need or use but just haven’t done anything about it.
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We have been empty nesters for a few years, and have really let this clutter stuff get out of hand! Every room, closet, and drawer needs to be decluttered. Then there is the basement, there has to be a better word than “cluttered” for the basement.
My Plan of Action:
Calling a realtor is NOT the first step.
I decided there is no point in starting to paint or make repairs until the house is emptied out a bit. However, when you have lived in a house for 20+ years, decluttering can seem daunting.
I jumped online looking for suggestions to take on this monumental task. I found some really good advice I can put to good use.
As you know, I am a list maker, so I found it useful to make a list of tasks I want to complete and then prioritize them.
Things I Know I Want Keep.
There are really two lists here.
A. Things I want to keep but shouldn’t be in the house while we are trying to sell it. This is where I will pack all of our family pictures, heirlooms, and some memories.
For things on this list, I decided to start packing boxes right away.
Tips on packing boxes:
• Take a picture of the inside of each box before you close it. This will give you a general idea of what is in it.
• Label the box with a number.
• Add the number with the picture to your list. When it comes time to move, you can ask yourself again if you REALLY want to keep these things.
• Store the boxes in a corner in your garage or rent a storage unit. Have your spouse declutter the garage first.
B. Things I want to keep and will leave in the house until we move. Be sure
to add these things to a list too, this will help you be more organized
when it is time to move.
Things that belong to our children.
We have been more than happy to store all of our children’s childhood treasures until they had their own homes and would come and get their stuff.
I can hardly write that with a straight face. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO COME to TAKE ANYTHING. But you can try. Find a place that you don’t need for living right now and start a pile for each child. As you declutter the rest of the house, these piles will grow.
Let your children know that they can come to take what they want, and help decide what to do with all the rest. I can’t wait for our daughter ( mother of two boys) decides what to do with her massive Barbie Dream House.
Donate or Sell
What is too good to throw away but you just don’t have any use for anymore?
Donate or sell any toys the kids don’t take. Don’t make the mistake of keeping toys in case you have grandchildren will play with them. It is not likely going to happen.
Don’t forget the kitchen. Do you still bake, or need 3 sets of dishes? If you haven’t used something in over a year (or three) consider donating it. My collection of 20 cookie jars will have to go!
How about all of the things you kept for your kids, and they say “thanks, but no thanks”. For me, this includes my red Christmas dishes, expensive wine glasses, and silver! Do I really want to wrap things in bubble-wrap just take up space or stay in a box?
Of course, there are many items that are worth donating but not trying to sell. You will recognize these items when you see them.
You will have to decide for yourself what to do as far as having a sale. A moving sale is not out of the question, but do it now, not when you are going to list your house! Some people are really good at sales – I am not.
Another important tip for things you donate: TAKE PICTURES and add them to a list.
You do this for a couple of reasons. First, hopefully, you can deduct some donations on your taxes. More importantly, when you or a family member start searching for something they think they have lost, you will have a list of inventory to check!
Throw it Away! (This is my favorite way to declutter)
Throw as you go! Plan on using a large lined garbage can that you can take with you room to room. This is so fun. There will be lots of things that you know you can throw right away. I am starting to think that when I say ”declutter”, I mean ”throw”.
I found old candles, make-up, magazines, old cleaning products right away. This includes out-of-date medication and vitamins, rusty tools, dead batteries, pens that don’t work, torn clothing, stained tablecloths. Anything broken or unusable goes.
Keep throwing as you move on to closets, drawers, and the dreaded basement.
Get to Work
Now you have an organized plan with a list for everything.
It is important to make a priority list as well.
Work in chunks of 15 minutes to two hours. This is great advice. If you have your list prioritized you can choose what is doable in the time you have.
This is especially important when starting big projects like closets, kitchen, and basements. Plan to work in small chunks of time and when that time is up – QUIT. It will be much easier to start again if you follow this rule.
Closets Are Special:
How is it that four-bedroom closets are stuffed full, and the kids took their clothes?
Here’s why. One closet is for the three different sized clothes I have saved in case I need them!
So when going through clothes, ask yourself if you will ever be that size again, or should be embarrassed to wear it? Shoes and purses lurk here as well. If you haven’t worn them or used them for over a year get rid of them now.
Drawers & Shelves
Here to declutter, you take everything out or down. You may as well clean it while it’s empty, right? Only put back only what you absolutely want to keep.
I am not suggesting saving this for last. I would feel so virtuous if that was done! You know what’s down there, so just use the same declutter categories and strategies you used for the rest of the house and do it in chunks.
Finally, My advice to new empty nesters:
• picture yourself in your new house without any clutter.
• I have a feeling most of us won’t need a storage unit if we follow these tips.
Please share your decluttering tips, advice, and experiences!