Just like mama birds, we’re instinctively driven to create safe and comfortable nests for our families. Are you getting ready to move? This can be an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time. In fact, changing homes has been identified as one of the biggest life stressors, right up there with divorce and death. You should expect some challenges, but there are proven ways to mitigate the stress of moving. By implementing some smart organizing strategies, you can get your family efficiently and happily transitioned.
Managing the Sale
Let’s start with the selling side of the equation. Real estate transactions are usually one of the most significant financial transactions we’ll ever make. It is important to do what you can to garner top dollar for your investment. Upfront decluttering and depersonalizing will help you properly stage your existing home for showings. It also gives you the opportunity to do some pre-packing.
Declutter & Depersonalize
You don’t want your personal items to distract a potential buyer. At Getting it Done Organizing, we recommend the following to prepare your home for showings:
Take down your personal photos. Allow potential new occupants to visualize their own families in the space. You want them to look at the home, not your favorite family images.
Pull down the knick-knacks. We all have our own unique style. Give the potential buyer the opportunity to envision where they’d put their own decorations, not get caught up in yours.
Oftentimes it makes sense to remove some of your furniture. This will enable you to highlight the space available in the home. Even if it did not feel crowded to you and your family, more open space will make the room feel larger. For example, it might make sense to take out an occasional chair, remove a side table, or drop down to fewer barstools.
Pack up the off-season clothes. This will create more room to showcase the space available in the closet. What’s more, you’ll have completed some of your own packing.
Clean off the vanities in your bathroom – store toiletries and appliances in an organized fashion in the cabinets.
Try to remove as much as possible from your kitchen pantry. Again, this will showcase all the space available to the potential new buyer.
If you have access to a storage unit, plan to store your packed boxes there. Otherwise, find an area of the garage to neatly place your packed boxes. Make sure your placement of the boxes does not detract from the garage space overall. For example, do not cover up built-in storage units and avoid simply piling up your personal items – they should be stacked in an orderly fashion.
In most cases, an empty home will take longer to sell than one that contains furniture. This is one of the main reasons new home builders have model homes. It helps a potential buyer to see how the home might be arranged. A thoughtfully arranged space will evoke positive emotions. Statistics show you have just seconds to make the first impression you need to engage a possible buyer. So, once you’ve done the depersonalizing and uncluttering, try a few of our favorite staging tricks to set the stage for success:
We all have a personal style, and beautiful, bold colors may be a part of it, but neutral wall colors are generally most appealing to new home buyers. It pays to invest in fresh, on-trend, neutral wall paint. Allow art, pillows, and other decoration to bring the color to the space. Even if you are not repainting completely, we recommend touching up the walls. And, yes, this means patching up any nail holes exposed once you remove your own personal hanging items.
Clean. Clean. Clean. This is such a basic step, but it makes a world of difference. Dust off the surfaces, wipe down the appliances, remove stains from the sinks, and build-up in the shower. Windows are your showcase – clean them inside and out. Have the rugs professionally cleaned. Thoroughly clean your cabinets and pantry – they will certainly be opened by potential buyers. Clean spaces convey the message that the home has been taken care of properly.
Give some love to the front door. This is where you make your first impression. It might make sense for you to invest in refinishing the wood or paint on the door if it is faded or worn. Is the door handle snug and operating properly? Is the hardware in good condition? Are the hinges oiled? Ensure your porch lighting is shiny and clean. Remove any cobwebs. Consider adding in some flanking planters with colorful plants or richly textured foliage.
You may be currently living in the home, but you don’t have to advertise this fact. Don’t leave wet towels or dirty clothes out when you have a showing. Place any dirty dishes in the dishwasher and run it ahead of time. Wipe down your showers and tubs. Put away wet bathmats. Ahead of a showing, avoid cooking anything that gives off a strong smell. Cookies and other baked goods are ok; in fact, these comforting scents can be a bonus!
You have arranged your current home in a way that makes sense for your family, but keep in mind that symmetry is always appealing. Consider the way your rooms are laid out. Is there balance? Is furniture spread out evenly? Have you allowed for generous traffic flow? Move as necessary, keeping in mind that this season is temporary and that you’ll be setting up your new home just as you like very soon.
Once you've sold your existing home, it's time to pack everything up. With any large task, we recommend breaking it up into manageable parts. Make a schedule and recruit help where you can. Here are some of our top packing tips:
Use this time to purge! Before you pack it, really consider if you want to keep it. Donate gently used items. Consider holding a garage sell or posting items on Facebook Marketplace. Trash what needs to go away completely.
Invest in the right packing supplies: box cutters, permanent markers, packing tape, bubble wrap, garbage bags, and sturdy boxes. Many companies sell boxes specifically designed for moving. You might even have luck finding recently used ones on Facebook or Nextdoor.
Pack boxes by room. Not only will this make the packing easier, it will also facilitate efficient unpacking.
Clearly label each box with a general description of the contents and the name of the room the box should be placed in on move-in day.
Unpacking Your New Home
Well before the moving truck is scheduled to be loaded, we recommend you spend some time planning out how you would like to arrange your new home. Create a written list of what goes where. Move-in day will be a busy one, and you may forget things in the rush. Share copies of the list with everyone who will be present on moving day. You will be asked where you want the larger pieces of furniture to go right away, as the items are coming off the truck, and you want to be ready with an answer.
Don’t try to do all the unpacking in one day. Rushing to empty the boxes will set you up for disorganization. At Getting it Done Organizing, we recommend your goal be to get your family back to “living normally” as soon as possible. This means unpacking the rooms of the home based on use and need. You’ll want to set the beds up for sleeping the first day, but the decorating of the walls and shelves in the room can wait. Start on the kitchen as soon as possible so that you can prepare and serve meals. Make sure you have a spot to sit down to rest and recharge.
Do keep in mind, though we want you to put together a realistic and manageable timeframe for unpacking, we also advise against letting it drag out. Unpacked boxes can lead to frustration (where is my xx??) and anxiety (I’m still not moved in!!). Make sure you stay with it to finish the process fully.
Consider Partnering with a Professional
If your budget allows, now is a great time to partner with a professional organizer. You'll be working with a clean slate - which for some is appealing, but for others, it can be overwhelming.
Professional organizers have the tools and knowledge needed to optimize spaces in the home. Think closets, drawers, cabinets, pantries, etc. and innovative drawer organizers, storage bins, and other space savers.
Getting it Done Organizing offers end-to-end moving services and everything in between. We can help with the purging, staging, and packing. We’ll set up your new space optimally functional and perfectly organized. Wondering what benefits you can expect partnering with a professional organizer for your move? Here’s what a couple of our clients have shared with us after the fact:
“When we moved into our new house, we had an opportunity to clean things out and really get organized. It was an overwhelming task. We hired the Getting it Done Organizing team to come in and take over, and they were a Godsend. They made a very stressful situation easy and significantly lowered my anxiety! Now when I walk through my house, there are so many little things here and there that honestly make me happy when I walk past them. You should see my pantry!” -Tracy, University Park, TX
“Oh my gosh!!! Literally the best thing I have ever done! Getting it Done Organizing changed my life!!! Jenny flew out from Texas to California to help me move into my new home. She unpacked and organized my entire home!!! Bedrooms, kitchen, office, hall closets, you name it and it’s organized!!! I walk into my closet and I feel like I’m shopping. I can now see things I totally forgot I even had. My space is organized and now my mind is organized and I feel better than ever!!!” -Mimi, Los Gatos, CA
One Last Piece of Advice: Take Advantage of the Discounts!
When you file your change of address with the US Post Office, you’ll begin to receive offers for discounts from many retailers, including Wayfair, West Elm, Lowes, Amazon, and many more! Hang on to them! We guarantee they will come in handy! Moving always involves some purchases. Optional purchase or wonderful splurge, saving money is a bonus.
Ready to Get Moving?
It’s true, the process of moving will inevitably ruffle a feather or two. It is important to accept this upfront. But, with some planning and proven organization tactics, you can get through the process successfully. Don’t be afraid to seek out help when you need it and capitalize on all the opportunities that come with starting afresh. Most importantly, stay focused on the end goal – you and your family in your beautiful new home. Happy moving!
Jenny Dietsch, owner of Getting it Done Organizing, is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO) who believes order and beauty in the home bring peace and contentment. She and her team are committed to creating functional and aesthetically pleasing systems for their clients and their families. In addition to home moving assistance, Getting it Done Organizing provides home organization and decluttering services for existing homeowners. You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook for smart tricks and tips.