Is downsizing in the near future for you? Have your kids left the nest and you are thinking it’s time to look ahead to a move?
Does it feel too overwhelming to know where to start? Break it down to a 12 MONTH PLAN and minimize the stress with lots of preparation and monthly goals. A step-by-step plan is key to an organized, proactive, stress-free transition...and minimal gray hairs!
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MONTH ONE - Purposefully make a pass through each room of your house to find 'Round one donations'. What items can you do without? Contact your kids to give them fair warning that they must make accommodations for any of their items that you've been storing 'rent free' for years.
MONTH TWO - Pay some attention to your yard. Often it becomes very tired over time and it likely needs a refresh. Get rid of leggy, old plants. Young plants take time to root and flourish so updating your yard as early in the process as possible will do wonders. This will also make your final year of enjoying your home more pleasurable and will give the plants time to look their best by sales time.
MONTH THREE - Clean out the garage...all of it. You've got 30 whole days to go focus on the garage, so just go out there and pick through the items. The clean garage will come in handy when you really get down to sorting through the attic, household stuff, etc. You need the space dedicated to the project.
MONTH FOUR - Dedicate time to your attic or storage room. Figure out which memories to keep, what things to offer to your kids, and/or donate. Enjoy the process of reminiscing and deciding. The difficulty of downsizing is more often rooted in the heart than the process.
MONTH FIVE - Rummage sale time - if you have the energy. If not, donations are an easy way out! Now how do you decide on a Realtor? This is about the time you'll want to start connecting with Realtors you respect. Often, a homeowner is tempted to default to a neighbor or friend who’s an agent, but these days real estate is changing very quickly. It’s important to partner with a Realtor who has a significant online presence. If a home is marketed online, the Realtor must be firmly in the digital age. There is also a trend to overlook the younger agents in town - gravitating towards the more known names is a natural reaction. However, consider the demographic of the BUYER of your home and try to find a Realtor that suits the buyer you are looking for...as well as someone you can connect with personally.
MONTH SIX - Obtain a home inspection, a chimney inspection (which will include a probably needed sweep!), a pool inspection, and a wood-destroying pest inspection. Get a handle on the real condition of your home and property now rather than waiting to get the news one week before you decide to sell. This gives you an opportunity to fix or remedy situations if needed. This is an easy month.
MONTH SEVEN - Based on your inspections, set a budget and figure out where to prioritize and allocate funds you are willing to dedicate to the house. Decide if you are going to renovate anything. Realtors are often great resources and busy ones will have a property prep consultant on hand to help determine return on investment for various projects. Often sellers are inclined to just make a house 'look pretty' for sale when more meaningful and strategic repairs and upgrades are really in order.
MONTH EIGHT - By now, you may have noticed that emotional attachment to your belongings is starting to loosen a bit. The intention to downsize is growing in your heart and mind. It's time to make another pass at personal belongings in each room and storage areas. It's time to be more firm with the kids about their possessions. Set a date for all items to be picked up. Consider removing pieces of furniture that don't see much use.
MONTH NINE - If you're a few months away from making your intentions reality, it's time to call a Realtor again - this time it’s the Realtor you will turn to for your replacement property. It may be the one you choose to list your home or it may be a completely different person. The skill sets are different to actively prep a property for sale compared to patiently helping you find a new place to call home. A good Realtor will offer you their time to take a tour of the neighborhoods you are considering. And then...go tour! Just be frank about your timelines with the buyer's agent and be flexible in your schedule.
MONTH TEN - Set up online searches to monitor the areas you're considering moving to. Become familiar with list prices vs. sales prices and even spend time researching listings in your own area. Have lunch, take a stroll, sit on a bench and people watch. If you're bold - stop people to inquire about the pluses and minuses of an area.Sign up for local publications or look to online resources to find out ‘what’s happening’ in your new neighborhood.
MONTH ELEVEN - Rest up. Enjoy your home. Have family, friends and neighbors over. Be certain of your Realtor relationships. Talk to your accountant or financial planner on the best use of your projected proceeds. See if any 55 and over laws apply to your situation and how best to take advantage of them.
MONTH TWELVE - It’s time to list! You made it...in a well-planned, low-stress way.