So, this move of mine is really happening. Like REALLY happening. I should have been prepared. Lisa assured my husband and me that our home would sell quickly and (of course!) she was right. Now, suddenly it’s May and the moving company has been booked and I’m counting down the days (instead of weeks and months) until they load up fifteen years of memories and move my entire brood across the state of Tennessee. I’m doing a lot of yoga. Who knew that the Lamaze breathing I learned for babies 1-3 would come in handy so late in life? Since I’m writing about moving do’s and don’ts, make note of that one… DO REMEMBER TO BREATHE. Respiration is incredibly helpful.
Here’s what is a little bit crazy about this move. I’ve known it was going to happen for well over a year. Because this move is a result of a new job for my husband and he’s been working at the “new job” for several years, we knew this was happening. And we knew it was happening when child #2 finished high school and child #3 finished middle school. I’ve had a lot of time to prepare, so none of what is happening right now should shock me. And in many ways, I am more prepared than the average Joe and recognize that having this time was a true gift. It allowed us to do a lot of the pre-move stuff slowing and carefully. It’s also allowed me to come up with a list of pre-sale do’s and don’ts that I’m happy to share. So, whether you have a great deal of time before listing your home or a little, here are some tips that worked for us!
DO… focus on small home improvements that pack a punch. We were able to renovate our kitchen and bathrooms before putting our house on the market and those renovations more than paid off! I’m certain we made our money back and then some. Even if you don’t have time to do a full reno, consider giving these important rooms some time and attention. High end finishes (granite countertops, marble backsplashes, stainless steel appliances) give you a lot of bang for your buck. At the very least, make sure cabinets are shiny and clean. Perhaps invest in new, up-to-the-minute hardware. In bathrooms, buy and display fresh and fluffy towels and linens. It’s the little things that really do make a difference.
DO… purge and organize. Starting last year, I developed a room by room system to toss stuff we didn’t need or want and to organize stuff we were keeping and moving. Breaking the process down made it so much more manageable. For example, after Christmas, I went through all our holiday bins and donated the decorations we didn’t use anymore. It was amazing how much space I saved. In February, I went through the boys’ bedrooms (with their help, of course) and we were able to reduce the clutter that felt like it was drowning us into two tubs per boy. Best of all, those tubs were ready to be relocated to the new house as soon as we closed and weren’t on the premises here when this house was ready to be shown. For the first time in, well, forever… the boys’ bedrooms were neat and tidy. I was pretty ruthless in my purging process. If we hadn’t touched or used something in a year, it was recycled, donated or trashed. If I was on the fence about whether or not to save something, I asked myself… do I want to pay to move this item. The answer was almost always no.
DO… give your rooms an eagle-eyed once over. Patch nail holes, touch up paint, give baseboards and crown molding a quick coat of glossy new paint. Wash down doors and moldings… buy magic erasers by the boatload. Again, I recommend making a schedule to do this room by room so as not to overwhelm yourself and your worker bees. As we worked our way through rooms, tossing stuff and touching up, I made a master list of jobs that were just too big to tackle on my own. A month prior to putting our house on the market, I hired a handy man to work his way through that list and that was some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
DON’T… be afraid to hire a home stager. I watch a lot of HGTV and I’ve played around with lots of furniture arrangements over the years, so I thought I knew what worked and what didn’t. However, a dear friend who is also an interior designer came over one afternoon and walked through the house with me. She suggested little changes that made a big difference. Moving a club chair from the corner of our den to an upstairs bonus room made the den feel bigger and created a cozy sitting space in the cavernous corner of the bonus room. We’d already removed most of our family photos, so she moved some other (non-personal) photos, mirrors and pieces of art around the house to fill in the empty spaces and give each room a fresh, new look. She dumped flour, sugar and tea out of my glass canisters and filled them instead with faux apples, lemons and limes. And, she added little succulents on the windowsill in our kitchen and the coffee table in our living room. It was such a tiny thing, but I’ll never live without live plants again!
DON’T… overspend. Once I got in the groove of making this house look it’s very best, it was super tempting to spend hundreds buying new tchatkes and really turning this place into a show home. I had to remind myself that I was leaving this house and that I’d spent months purging to make the house seem larger and cleaner. If I knew that I couldn’t use the new items in our new house, I simply did not buy them. When staging your house for sale, less really is more!
So, there you have it… a list of BEFORE-SALE do’s and don’ts. Even if you don’t have as much planning time as we did, you can still make little changes that will help your home sell quickly and will hopefully help keep you sane while your home is on the market. More on that “during” time next week!