As published in the Savannah Morning News - September 2, 2012
Let's Get Packing!
Last week, we discussed a crucial step toward the road map to success, Floor Planning. Now that you have chosen your next residence, and have planned what you will take with you, it’s time to start packing!
Let’s digress for a moment. There are two scenarios I see when consulting with a Senior in transition:
The first is that the Senior is moving before the house is sold, and we will be restaging the house and preparing it for sale after they move to their new home. It is either on the market, or has not yet been listed for sale when we meet with them. We will address this scenario later.
The second scenario is that the house is under contract for sale, and they are in a panic because they have to move in 30 days or less! This is the most common scenario, and after looking at the contents of the house, their panic becomes mine!
That old saying, “The man who is prepared, has the battle half fought”, is my mantra! So, this is our topic for today. We aim to eliminate the panic, and prepare for a smooth move.
At your first inkling of selling and making a change, start packing! I mean, open every cabinet, closet and attic opening in your house and take a look. Don’t forget the garage, storage rooms and the stuff squirreled away under the bed! The longer you have lived, the more you accumulate, so my guess is your house looks pretty much like many others I have seen.
Don’t know where to start? How about the closets? When your house is on the market, potential buyers are always interested in closet space and other storage. Not only will your closets look larger when cleared out, but your job later will be significantly less difficult if you start the sorting, discarding and paring down now. Anything you have not worn in two years, give it to charity or discard it. Remember, you are moving to live a maintenance-free life style, so all those painting and yard clothes can go bye-bye!
How about your office? With your house on the market, people come through and look in every nook and cranny. Don’t give strangers an easy opportunity to steal your identity or account information, so lock it up or move it out. Box up only those files that need to be moved and kept for tax purposes. For the discards, start shredding everything with your account numbers, social security numbers and personal information on them. Since we frequently organize offices, we are faced with stacked up boxes and piles of papers to shred. There are services that will come to your door for a fee and shred boxes of files and papers right in front of you. No need to remove paper clips and staples.
We will discuss those records you need to keep, and for how long, in next week’s article.
In your garage, pack a tool kit, and sell the rest or give it away. I’m making the same assumption here, that you are moving toward a maintenance-free life style. No more mowing the lawn, edging, trimming or fertilizing! People love to buy lawn and garden equipment, pots, accessories, hoses and tools. Garage sales are great for these items.
Go through the kitchen…here’s a great place to pare down. If you are moving to a community that offers a restaurant and meal plans, remember these words: “No more meal planning!” I am told the Seniors meet at each other’s homes for cocktails, and then go to a restaurant for dinner. After having one dinner party, they realize no one else is doing it! Simplify your life and get rid of the Cuisinart, heavy mixer, 14 pots and pans, and pancake griddle for a family of 8. One full set of pots and pans, one large pot (for the low country boils you promise you will continue to make), and a couple of casseroles to take to friend’s homes when you visit….or to your favorite gentleman down the hall!
Now look at the family china, crystal and everyday dishes. Your kitchen you roller skated in before is going to be smaller in the new place. If you have 10 sets of dishes, choose 2. Or take 4 place settings of your favorite sets, and mix and match them when you have a dinner party for more than 4.
It’s time to call in the family for a visit. This takes time to set up, so do this well in advance of the move date and, preferably before you have to start packing. Send those things they want (dishes, silver, books, etc.) out the door with them, and plan to donate or sell the rest.
And while the family is in residence, pull out all the family photographs. They will appreciate the opportunity to have some of these precious memories, and your load will be lighter. When depersonalizing a house for sale, family photos are the first thing I pack up. Potential buyers want to “live” in your house by picturing themselves there. That’s difficult to do, and many times distracting for a buyer, when family photos are spread throughout the house. Besides, your photos and life are your business, so no need to have buyers checking you out and needing to know the details of your life.
It’s best to do all this BEFORE you put the house on the market. I share this information with potential clients when I see their house the first time. However, more often than not, they agree and say they will get started, and a couple of months later, I discover they have not begun the process.
Move managers can do this sorting with you and speed up the process. But keep in mind, it takes time, involves many decisions, and waiting to begin once you get a contract on your house is a recipe for stress. A large home can take a month to sort through, especially with an office that has not been organized and every paper requires review before it is either filed or discarded.
Don’t procrastinate! Do it now, or bring in the help to make it happen. I tell my sellers to start packing before they list the property, and neatly stack their boxes in the garage. When we do a move, we number each box, and the room in which they will belong. We label crystal and breakables with “FRAGILE” and remind the movers that the “fragile” boxes mean fragile! Some of the most fragile items, we move ourselves.
On a corresponding notepad, we list the numbers and what is in each box. When the movers come through the door with your boxes, we know where the boxes go in your new home, and in which closet, cabinet or place the items will “live”. This planning has been done in advance, so the boxes are immediately unpacked, items are put away, and the boxes are broken down and removed.
Hand carry your valuables, jewelry, safety deposit keys, medications, etc., in your car. Don’t let these items get mixed up in the move. Set up a briefcase for important papers and take them to a safety deposit box.
It’s never too soon to prepare for a move, and if you need help, get it now. It will feel great to shed yourself of so much stuff, so let’s get packing!
Coming next week in the “Moving Mom” series…Getting Rid of Stuff!
By Brooke Bass, Associate Broker with Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners and owner of Gracious Moves LLC, a Savannah based Staging and Move Management Company.
A nationally award winning Realtor, Brooke has been successfully selling and staging homes since 1985. She holds the National Association of Realtors, “Seniors Real Estate Specialist” certification, and memberships in the National Association of Senior Move Managers, and Greater Savannah Coalition on Aging. For more information, contact Brooke at 912-655-9299 or visit www.GraciousMoves.com.