There are many reasons for
selling the family home. It can be due to downsizing, divorce, or sometimes death. It can be an uncomfortable decision due to all the stuff. Many of us will reluctantly admit that we truly have more things than we need. Putting a big house on the market, and clearing out decades’ worth of possessions can be difficult. But for most, it is overwhelming. Many folks say the sheer volume of their possessions has made them “somewhat” or “very” reluctant to sell and move. Where do you even begin?
Here are a few ideas to help wrap your mind around the task and get started. Just about everybody who’s been through the ordeal – whether they have to “de-junk” in crisis mode or not – wishes they’d begun sooner. Often, part of the challenge is that family members already have a houseful of their own “stuff” and don’t always have room for more.
Sorting through the accumulated years can be exasperating. Even a nightmare, if the person is a pack-rat, under stress, or hopelessly sentimental. Appeal to the person’s sense of not wanting to be any “trouble”: “Mom, Dad, it will be a lot more trouble for me to sort through all this after you’re gone than to sit here and help you get a handle on it now.” You may learn things or have conversations with your parent(s) that may not have happened otherwise. It is a trip down memory lane, and a thoughtful way to honor the memories associated with the items.
Begin by sorting things into categories. There will be things to donate, things to sell, things to throw away, and things to distribute among family. The specific questions about items depend on the situation, but you can make a system of it by asking: When was the last time you wore it? (More than two years and it’s out.) Does it work? (If it doesn’t function, forget it.) Is this a sentimental thing for you or a memory you want to pass on to somebody else? Is there anybody who could use this more than you right now (a young family starting out, a charity)?
Take pictures of the home in its current state, like a snapshot of time. Taking pictures room by room of a home before dismantling it will help save the memories without having to save all the stuff. Do take pictures of beloved objects before disbursing them. “What’s really important are the memories, not necessarily the object. Your parents or family will have more fun looking at albums (or downloaded images online) than dusting and digging. Likewise, you can scan old documents to the computer for preservation.
Then there’s the emotional pain of scaling back. Many baby boomers are finding they lack the stomach or stamina to dismantle their lives. They can’t bear to sort through or part with all those boxes in the basement, or argue with the adult children who want to keep the house where they grew up. Things can take on a deep meaning because of their connections to people, places and events.
It is helpful to focus on the positive aspect of downsizing and paring down your stuff. (less to clean, money, helping someone else) Start small, but start! A corner, a box of paper, paraphernalia, or photos, a bookcase. If you get into a crunch, another option is to put valuable items in storage for a short defined period of time. After that you can decide what to do. Collectors might be persuaded to cash in on their collection(s) in this uncertain economic climate. Or plan ahead to divide a collection among, perhaps, grandchildren, as Christmas gifts.
full service Realtor I have a team that is here to help. Especially if it’s a crisis or you’re out of town, we are available to provide assistance to begin the process of scaling down in order to get your house sold. We are here to help you whether it is organizing, sorting, or arranging to have things hauled to designated destinations. It seems overwhelming, but when you have help, it becomes less daunting. Call or email us today. We’ll get it done!