Preparing Your Home (and Your Heart) for Selling


Thinking of selling your home?  It’s easier for some people than others to prepare their home for the market.  Part of what can make it more difficult can be personality, and there are usually many other factors involved.  

Sometimes people who are very sentimental and carry a lot of great memories with them of their home, and especially if they look across the Living Room and see visions of their little boy or girl learning to walk, then they may have a few things to work through in order to get to the point of actually putting a For Sale sign in their yard.  Many people can become very emotional just thinking about selling their home, especially when they have no idea where they’d like to go from there.

If you are a Senior or have been in your home for 20 or more years, it can be a little overwhelming.  We run into this a lot, and people just don’t know where to start.  Most people max out their pace and the larger their home, the more stuff they have accumulated.

Just recently, I had a discussion with some friends, Greg and Bethany, who own a business in the Waterloo region of helping people organize their homes, and simplify their lives.  They also specialize in helping Seniors who are downsizing.  They said that most Seniors think they will ask their kids for help with getting rid of their extra “stuff”, but people who are 70 or 80 or older have kids who are usually quite busy as well with their own kids or their careers.  And it’s especially difficult if they don’t life nearby.  It’s sad, but it’s a fact.  And this is where people like Greg and Bethany can be especially helpful because they help their clients, most of whom are seniors, to part with some of their accumulated belongings, while preserving their relationship with their family members.  Greg and Bethany are a neutral third party, and because there is no attachment to any of the items, they are able to help people go through their things in an objective, non-threatening way.

It used to be that our grandparents would gift us with something and tell us how special it was.  It may not have been something we had ever even seen before, so it wasn’t special to us.  But, we were given this gift with strings attached, and we were expected to keep it and hold it in high regard.  It was like a guilt gift.

Other grandparents would write on the bottom of something with a Sharpie of who they thought should be given a certain item.  That’s great if it’s something you had mentioned meant a lot to you, but sometimes people think you should have it even if it isn’t something you would really appreciate so much.

I brainstormed with Greg & Bethany and with Carrie, who works on my team, and we found some creative ways to help people get rid of items that have been hanging around their house for far too long.  Here are a few ideas that may work:

  • If you have a family member that has talked to you about any of your belongings already, call them over to pick the item(s) up.
  • Before your next holiday gathering, make an announcement that you are planning on purging some items from your space and let everyone know they can talk to you if they’re interested in anything.
  • After you’ve gotten some help to sort through your things, and after you’ve made your donation pile, if you have any collections, pick out the favourite of each type of item and make some kind of a tribute to it.  This is especially a nice thing to do if you are honouring a lost loved one.  You could make a nice shadow box of a few of your favourite finds.
  • When my dad passed away, my mom gave all of us kids and grandkids an opportunity to go through his clothes and pick out what we wanted.  Each one of the guys took a tie or two.  I took one of his sweaters and every time I miss him, I wear it.  I also wear his gold watch sometimes.  One of my sisters took a shirt she bought him and had a pillow made of it, and the pocket was in the front where she tucked in a photo of him wearing that very shirt.  I’ve heard of other people having quilts made out of fabrics from someone’s clothing.  What a great way to remember that person.  Carrie had heard of someone having teddy bears made for their grandkids out of a fur coat.
  • Host a memorable event, perhaps a dinner party, and ask all of your family members and close friends to come and shop after dinner, and they can choose anything they’d like.  Obviously, put all of the items you want to keep away, so that they can focus on what all there is for them to shop from.  You could get one of your creative grandchildren to help you sort and merchandise all of them.

There’s more to preparing your house for the market than decluttering and purging, but this is the best place to start.  I hope you found our ideas helpful.  Hopefully, reading this article has shown you some great ways you can celebrate your memories without having to physically pack them up and carry them with you in a box forever.  It’s a little less burdensome to carry your great memories in your heart than to lug them from one place to the next.  And it’s okay to keep a few cherished items, the best of the best, on display for reminders.  

All the best to the readers out there who are sorting through the pros and cons of either staying or selling.  It truly is not an easy decision, but I can tell you from my experience in working with sellers (particularly with Seniors) that it usually easier if it is done sooner rather than later because the longer a person lives in their home, the more heart-wrenching it can be to say goodbye to it and to work through all of the steps that need to be worked through in order to sell.  

Let’s put it this way, better to sell when you can independently make the decision to do so, than when someone else needs to step in on your behalf to make that decision for you.  There’s just more dignity when you make that decision on your own, and of course, with the assistance from of a group of caring professionals.

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