Graduation season has come and gone. For many parents, this milestone event can be a catalyst for a change in their own lives, prompting the decision to downsize.
Caroline Carter, a home transition expert and author of “Smart Moves: How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life,” says that ideally you’ll take about seven months to get your house ready to sell.
Carter’s book includes the following tips to help sellers tackle an important step in that process: Getting rid of a house full of stuff.
1. Pace yourself. From the onset, there are two golden rules for success: Understand that the process is a marathon, not a sprint, and understand that it is about getting your house ready to showcase to prospective buyers, not about you.
2. Get organized. Start with paperwork. This will require sorting, categorizing and arranging your medical, financial, school and other personal papers into “keep or shred” files. Be sure to make a list of important phone numbers, such as those for doctors, insurance agents and banks.
3. Timing is everything. It is best to perform these organizing tasks when you’re not pressed for time. The same goes for sorting through the attic, basement and garage. Consider them first steps, undertaken before going through your house room by room, and well in advance of posting a “for sale” sign in the yard.
4. Take control of your stuff. The average house has about 300,000 items — which can quickly overwhelm anyone. Go through each room and take everything out to view it clearly and in one space. Identify and put aside what you’ll use to stage your house, and sort other items into pack, sell, dump and donate categories. My must-haves for the process? Blue painter’s tape and a black marker to mark each item.
5. Out with the old. Sign up online for free pickups by local charities that accept gently used clothing, furniture and household items. My favorites are A Wider Circle, Dress for Success and Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Some companies offer free or inexpensive junk removal, drop-off document shredding, and paint and electronics disposal.