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By David Houck
Qualifying Broker
Atomic Realty

Do you have so much stuff you have forgotten what you have? A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in a year – you don’t need it. Be realistic. Take a hard look at each item in your home. Identify the things that are most useful or loved and keep those but if you haven’t used something in more than a year, give it to family / friends, sell it, donate it, or throw it away.

Gift family and friends, sell items you don’t need and donate items. Doing this helps to clear space, and there’s satisfaction in knowing that your old items will benefit others.

Be ruthless and be realistic. It’s easy to fall in love with objects — and often difficult to let them go. Yes family and friends will want your “good stuff” but who better to have them than family and friends.

Pick the “low hanging fruit”. Get in the habit of finding obvious things you can get rid of, such as outdated paperwork, clothing that no longer fits and old magazines and duplicate household items.

  • Organizing and decluttering your current home is no easy feat; it is physically and mentally difficult.
  • Sort Keep – You want to “mark” and perhaps “box up” and consolidate things you want to move and keep.
  • Sort – Give to family / friends. – You will need to decide what you are giving away to family, and good friends. – Do you no longer want to keep and store your adult kids belongings? Do you feel guilty telling them to come get them or you’re getting rid of them. Perhaps ask them to come over and help you sort, if they are far away do it in a series of zoom or “facetime” calls, this provides the second benefit of seeing and reminiscing with them. Ask if they want items. If they don’t, then get rid of it. This communication can be an enjoyable visit and can reduce conflict and resentment down the road.
  • Sort – Sell. You will need to sort and sort and sort and decide what you may want to sell. Selling unwanted items is a good way to raise extra money for your move. i.e. extra vehicles, furniture you will no longer need, and other belongings that have real value but you will no longer have use or space for. There are many websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to list belongings. Make sure to accept only cash offers to avoid scams. For smaller items, or those with lesser value, consider holding a yard sale.
  • How many vehicles will you want to keep? Sell, give them to family, or donate the one(s) you don’t need. The cost of owning and storing a vehicle is significant.
  • Sort-Donate – you will need to decide what charities you may want to donate unwanted items to. Some charities will pick up items from your doorstep free of charge and you may get a tax deduction, others you will have to drop off items.
  • Documents. Do you keep your bank statements for decades? Your first tax returns? Carefully destroy outdated paperwork that has your personal information on it. This is a time consuming project as paperwork accumulates quickly and we tend to just store it. Of course, keep what is important but don’t move or store what is not.
  • If you are moving to a retirement community and are selling almost everything you may want to consider hiring an estate sale company. There are different details from company to company but essentially they sell all your belongings and split the proceeds, usually about 50-50. Ask them for the details.
  • If you are moving and want someone else to take care of everything you may want to work with a Senior Moving Manager. Generally it is expensive but it allows you to spend your remaining time on this earth living life not managing minutia.
  • In your new location it is likely you will start with few friends, that means a lot of alone time. Plan on working hard to be involved in your new community. Enjoy the adventure!

David Houck is the Qualifying Broker for Atomic Realty, with 40 years experience, a BS in math and physics and a doctorate in law. For more details on these issues and free selling and buying tips see AtomicRealty.net

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