Tag Archives: de-cluttering your home

10 Tips for Mucking Out the Memories

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Yard Sale CartoonThe sequel to my Downsize This post.

So after that grisly marriage-blasting, nerve pinching experience of selling our big-ass house and downsizing our worldly attachments – here we are a year later happily ensconced in our condo. Thankfully, I no longer see that goggle-eyed, crazed woman staring back in the mirror.

Our little storage locker is chock-full of Christmas decorations, photo albums and fishing gear. Nothing else. It’s amazing how we boiled it all down to the bones and survived the madness. Do I miss the rest? Sometimes, but mostly there’s an incredible sense of relief; a simple freedom in de-cluttering our lives.

Top 10 things I learned:                              

  1. Make a Floor Plan: We measured each piece of furniture and made cut-outs so we could move them around on the floor plan like a doll house. This was a great way to see what furniture would be the best fit in our new place. Warning: not recommended for sissies. Big screen TV’s and well-loved recliners may not be condo-worthy.

  2. Test the size of your locker: Measure your locker and make an outline on the floor, like they do for dead bodies. After much pushing, pulling and pouting, we stacked the things we couldn’t part with in this space – like a precarious block of Lego’s. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t get on the moving truck. Proceed with caution: can be deadly to relationships.

  3. No storage wars!Sometimes when the pushing, pulling and pouting didn’t work and we reached an impasse on what to keep, we were tempted to cheat and rent an off-site storage locker. Fortunately, our daughter arrived in full swat-gear to talk us down from the ledge. When it’s stored, it gets ignored!

  4. Beware of auction houses! The two companies we used were shockingly dishonest by controlling bids to fall within their highest commission parameters – and by directing some sales to their friends – or to their spouses for resale in their own shops. Make a detailed list before you give them anything. Then kiss your assets good-bye.

  5. Check your collectables:  We checked sculptures, paintings, carvings, china, etc., for signatures and markings – and tried to determine the value by checking the internet. A sort-of-do-it-ourselves ‘Antiques Road Show.’ The money’s in the details; the devil’s in the dark.

  6. Get a long closing date would have given us time to sell more stuff online. As it was, we were pressured into hustling our belongings out the door, like unwanted houseguests. Remember the Rule of Three: a minimum of 3 months for closings and a maximum of 3 nights for visitors. Don’t get them confused!

  7. Have a yard sale: This was a great way to recycle. We priced to sell, grouped similar items together and the bargain-pickers were lined up around the block. We sold everything! The boxes of “Free Stuff” we put at the end of the drive was a big hit. They took that too and saved us a trip to the dump. My garage runneth empty; my fanny-pack runneth full…of coins.

  8. Hawk your stuff:  I made a list of everything I had for sale and emailed or handed it out to everyone I could. Friends, relatives, real estate contacts, trades people, the new buyers etc. I sold lots of stuff this way. Be bold. You’ve gotta tell to make it sell.

  9. Book donations: Parting with books wasn’t easy. But a targeted donation can help to ease the pain of separation anxiety. For example, I donated several boxes of children’s books to a local Ronald MacDonald House, and a collection of creative writing books to my high-school teacher-niece, who made a special library for herself and her students. ‘Tis a far far better thing I do…than I have ever done hoarding my books.

  10. Think Charities: These were great places to donate clothing and household goods. Many agencies picked up right at my door. Recycling and consignment shops were also good options, but they had lots of restrictions on what they would take. A bit of homework was needed, but worth the effort. So when in doubt, don’t throw it out.

Final word: While mucking out the memories was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, the memories themselves are surprisingly alive and kicking up dust bunnies. The good news is – I love that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. The bad news is – I hate that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. It all depends on the day.                                            

Now as I sit and write this rhyme,
I look back on those days in time,
Remembering how we were stressed,
And acting like two fools possessed.

So here’s the moral to my tale;
Don’t put your big-ass-house for sale!
Stay where you are until you’re dead,
The kids can muck it out instead.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my children’s books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

It’s Time to Sell

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Okay, so we made the decision to downsize and sell our home over a cup of tea one morning. The time was right. The house was too big, the kids were too far, the drive was too long and life was too short. So a condo near the kids was the answer. We toasted our good judgment with an extra spoon of brown sugar on our oatmeal. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Pushy kids: Our daughter had pushed for this decision for a while, but we dug our heels in until we were stuck in the muck. And now it was time to muck it out; all 4200 square feet of house, 2 garages, Hubsey’s workshop and furnace room – every inch chock full of dusty memories. We had lots of de-mucking to do to squeeze into a condo.

But I digress – first step – SELL OUR BIG-ASS HOUSE.  I’m happy to report that we hired an excellent real estate agent that we trusted, and our home sold in one week! Here’s my take on selling tips that matter. 

The 6 things NO real estate agent will tell you:

1…Use your head. While you need to de-clutter and make your rooms appear spacious and appealing, don’t remove all your family photos and personal mementos. Who thought up that asinine trend anyway? Any prospective buyers who can’t picture themselves in your home because your family photos are on the mantle, are too stupid to buy the house in the first place. Don’t get pushed around by the so-called professionals in the field.

2…Forget expensive staging.This home is yours to sell and you don’t need someone else’s stuff to do that. Another real estate ruse. You know what needs to be done. Do minor repairs and spruce up the place with a touch of paint. For a few hundred dollars, you can add lots of light coloured accents to give the rooms a clean fresh feel; like crisp white bedding, fresh flowers, soft cream sofa pillows, comfy throws – and breezy white sheer curtains on an open window. And don’t forget to spa-up your bathroom with stacks of fluffy white towels, scented candles and fancy soaps.

3…Air it out. Agents find it hard to tell you that your house smells. Open windows long before a showing and burn a Lampe Berger if you have one. They work wonders. Buyers shouldn’t have to wonder if the lingering aromas are from the corned beef and cabbage you had for dinner or a dead body between the walls. But don’t overdo the air-fresheners.  People may think you’re trying to hide something.

4…Write a personal letter. Word-paint a picture for your buyers by writing a list of things you love about your home. Be creative and appeal to the emotions. This personal touch had a HUGE impact on creating multiple buyer interest in our home – and the resulting quick sale. Place a stack of these letters beside the real estate feature sheets. See my Post – Make it Personal  for an example of what I did.

5…Get help from St. Joseph. Now for something totally nuts! But I did it anyway. This is how it works; you purchase a small statue of St. Joseph and you bury him upside down in the yard, just below the surface. (Stay with me on this.) Place him near the For Sale sign and watch the buyers flock to your home. P.S…in my case, nothing happened after a few days, so I poured a pitcher of icy water on the burial spot to shake & wake him up. My house sold 3 days later…so you decide.        

6…No Open House showings. In my opinion, if someone wants to see your house, they should damn well make an appointment. Why should you allow every Tom, Dick and burglar to walk around and case the joint? Don’t fall for it! They’re a waste of time and a security threat. Agents like to use your home as an advertising platform for new business, and to make you feel like they’re earning their commission – which is another issue altogether. You deserve respect in your own home and as such, scheduled appointments with appropriate lead time is only fair – and the safe thing to do.       

Last word: Now top it all off with some classical music and a plate of bite-sized store-bought cookies on the counter and you’re good to go. (Bite-sized because you don’t want crumbs all over your house.) You should leave during the showings to give your prospective buyers privacy to look around – without you breathing down their cheque books. And make sure you get a minimum of 3 months for your closing date. You’re going to need it for the next step…mucking out the memories.

Happy Sales from Pat Skene