We are thinking about selling the home we have lived in for 25 years but it seems like such a daunting task. Do you have any advice?
If you are like most people who live in their homes for multiple decades, you have undoubtedly collected a lot of treasured memories in the form of physical objects. Your son’s first “big boy bed,” your daughters first bike. The furniture from your first apartment that you saved, certain one of your children would want it some day. Whatever it is, a move to a smaller home means that you are going to have to part with much of what you have collected.
For starters, you need to give some thought to how much you will be downsizing. If you are planning to move from a 4000 SF home to a 1500 SF condo, you have a lot of clean-out to do. If you are moving from 3800SF to 3000SF, you will not need to dispose of as much. I do recommend that you start your clean-out right away. Your home will show much better if it is emptied of your “collections” and presents in a more minimalist way.
If you need help, a professional home organizer is your best first step. An organizer can help you break down the process into manageable pieces and formulate a plan for the coming months. You should anticipate that the process will take several months, maybe even a year. Whether you use a professional or not, you should review all of your belongings to determine what you really NEED for your next adventure, and discard the rest. If you have items that hold treasured memories, consider photographing them and creating a “Memories” book.
Even if your move is years away, now is a good time to get started on those areas of your home that you don’t regularly use anymore, such as adult children’s rooms. Pack up their favorite things in Rubbermaid bins that you can easily send to their new residences someday and re-home the rest! For all of your “no longer needed” items, there are so many wonderful charities that will take them, and in addition to getting a home ready to sell and easily moved, you will get a tax deduction as well for your benevolence! If you need help finding these organizations, or a professional organizer to get you started, feel free to give me a call!
A home’s value is set by the market. Value is always determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for your home. Many factors come into play in setting that value. Market value reflects quantitative factors such as: # bedrooms, # bathrooms, # garages, placement of garages (attached or integral), lot configuration (large and functional back yard? Cliff lot?), location of the home generally, age of roof, age of mechanicals. Market value also reflects more qualitative items: how updated is your home, and is it all new, or just refreshed? What is the floorplan (open concept?) What are your wall colors? There is always a range that value will land in, which we call the range of reasonable. There is no ONE price at which a home will sell. If there are many buyers seeking a home like yours, it will sell at the top of the range of reasonable. If there are not, it will take longer to sell and may sell a bit lower in the range. What the market does not consider in setting a value of a home is what you need from the home. In 2008, many homeowners had used their homes as ATMs and withdrawn large sums of money for educations, vacations and cars. When the market softened, there was not enough equity for them to be able to sell their homes and not be in a short sale situation. This fact, that a homeowner over-extended themselves on mortgages, is not the least bit relevant to market value. The market is also not going to consider what you plan to do next. If you plan to move to Los Angeles to be closer to family and are finding that the Pittsburgh market is not going to yield you enough to be able to buy in L.A., you will need to turn to other investments to make up any difference.
We are in a very robust market – your home is far more likely to garner more now – whatever that may be – than it could have in the past. Forecasters are also suggesting that values will soften by year end. My crystal ball is out for service, but what I can tell you is that every hot market eventually softens. Waiting out the market so that you can get a price that the market is unprepared to deliver at this time may have you waiting many, many years, and during that time you may need to invest even more in your home in order to deliver to the market what it needs in order to deliver an acceptable sale to you.