My downsizing saga continues. In the beginning of July, I listed my home for sale. I had anticipated moving within a month or two. Four months later, my house still awaits a buyer and I remain in limbo. Prospective buyers come each week. I remain hopeful that a future visitor will fall in love with my house. Patience has become my mantra as my frustrations mount.
Our realtor is unable to provide any explanation. Last week, she sent a second professional stager to evaluate our home. New changes were suggested. This time around, we were more flexible. More pieces of our art were removed. The remaining pictures of our family were boxed up. Although our mezuzahs remain on our doorposts, almost all signs of our Jewish identity are no longer viewable. Some pieces of furniture were rearranged or taken to another location. The basement storage area was relieved of its clutter. It was a challenge, but we found places to put our extra things.
A new round of professional pictures was taken. The photographer captured the essence of our transformed house. The new photos were posted online. Almost all of our personal touches were eliminated. Now, I refer to my house as vanilla. Will vanilla be easier to sell than Jamoca Almond Fudge?
Without the “extras” my house no longer feels like home. It has been stripped of our family’s personality. Is that the underlying message that prospective buyers need to feel? One broker who viewed our house during the summer said, “It doesn’t look like you want to move.” Is it necessary to undress your house in order to convey the message- I’m available, buy me?
If I invited that broker back, what would she say now? Will future visitors be more interested due to the staged appearance or has the right buyer simply not walked through my front door yet?
Even though I have not moved, I have learned that selling real estate can be an unpredictable process. On the day that we signed our current listing agreement, our well-respected broker stated, “I’m certain that I can sell your stunning home.” Months later, her prediction has yet to come to fruition.
Staging a home may increase the likelihood of a house being sold, but there is no way to substantiate that idea. I’m not totally sold on the belief that people are not capable of looking past someone’s possessions. However, I do realize that biases and prejudices do exist and that proper marketing will increase the likelihood of a speedier sale.
If personal possessions have the potential to cloud a potential buyer’s judgment, these possible red flags should be removed whenever possible. Deciding which items need to be moved out may be unsettling. Finding a place to store these extra things can be challenging or an additional expense. Removing all of one’s furnishings and staging a home with rental furnishings can be expensive.
As we wait for an offer, I continue to sift through our family’s possessions. I wonder. How could I have kept so many things? What was I thinking?
It took two months to sort through the boxes in my basement. Some had not been opened since we relocated in 2000. Why did we even bother to transport them from Chicago if we never looked at them again? Now just a fraction of those mementos remain. The newly configured boxes take up a fraction of the space. The discards are scattered in a Colorado landfill while salvageable items have been donated to several different charities.
The process of going through decade’s worth of boxes has taken me back in time as I recalled various events. Boxes and boxes memorialized the challenges associated with obtaining two master’s degrees. I paused and stared into space. I wondered how I accomplished these milestones while simultaneously raising 4 sons. Simple pieces of paper reignited memories that had been lost. It was so wonderful to recall so many happy moments that I shared with my husband and sons.
Early on, I realized that it was not possible to hold onto everything. I had to throw out most of the paper trail. Hopefully, the brightest moments will remain illuminated without the boxes filled with the physical evidence.
I could not have accomplished my objective of downsizing without a plan.
5 tips to Streamlining the Downsizing Process.
Evaluate. Look over your possessions. Ask yourself 4 important questions. How much do you currently have? How much do you need to eliminate? Which things need to be saved? Which items can be discarded?
Create a Timetable. Pacing is essential. How much time can you devote to the project? Will the effort be daily? Budget your time wisely in order to avoid burnout or apathy.
Letting Go. The emotional aspect of downsizing may be harder to achieve than the physical aspect. Being willing to part with certain things may cause distress. Coming to terms with this process is essential.
Charity Pickup. Arrange for pickups so that you can meet deadlines more effectively. By having a set pickup date, it will be necessary to work toward your goals.
Flexible. A few years of extra stuff will be less of a challenge than decades worth of things. Initial downsizing plans may need to be modified. Maintaining a flexible attitude will be more beneficial in the long run.
If you recently downsized or are in the process of selling your home, I’d be interested in hearing your story.
- Can you offer any additional tips for downsizing?
- If you staged your home, did you feel that it made a difference?
- If you didn’t choose to stage your house, did your home sell in a timely manner?
Home Selling: All it Takes is One
Coping With Home Selling Stress
10 Steps to Minimize Home Selling Stress
Empty Nester’s Reflection on Downsizing One’s Home
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon.
Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. In response to her decision to downsize, Sandra started to write articles about her real estate experiences.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.
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