House-shaped key in the wood

In my 25 years of helping home sellers sell and home buyers buy their homes, one axiom has always held true: Things Change.

One change I see frequently in our market is the need to downsize to a smaller property.

Downsizing isn’t limited to one age group or one demographic. The motivations behind the need to downsize a property are diverse. 

However, the process is surprisingly similar regardless of the cause or

concerns that prompted the need to downsize. Every situation is unique

but the path to a solution is consistently the same.

It is important to remember that downsizing a property is a process and not an event. 

Some people contemplating downsizing are excited to be shedding their years of acquisitions and to be off on their new adventures and eagerly anticipate the sale of their property. 

Many others have been in their properties for years. They have a houseful of memories and a house full of stuff they are unwilling or reluctant to part with. Sadly, some have financial or health issues that weigh on their minds. 

Many call me realizing they have to make a change and don’t know the steps to take to resolve their solution. 


Step 1: Research and make a plan

We always advise home sellers who are considering downsizing to explore their options to decide if downsizing is what they want or need to do. Many don’t know.

We encourage them to assess their motivation and make a list of their needs and goals. It helps to visualize how they would like their future life to be.

Let me emphasize again, downsizing your home and your lifestyle is a process and not an event. It takes planning. It takes time. The process will usually take weeks and not days. You will be well-served to start with small steps and start early.


Step 2: Digitize memories,

important docs

Before you start to address what to do with all of the years of accumulated stuff, we advise home sellers to digitize their memories. Before you move or remove anything, we encourage you to get a digital camera or smartphone and take pictures of everything in every room.

Take pictures of the furniture and pictures on the wall, appliances in the kitchen, collections and memorabilia. Sort through those boxes of papers and old receipts.

The same thing applies to those boxes of family photos. Scan them and archive them digitally. This will be your archive of documents and memories. It can also be a great tool to help you decide what to take and what to discard or sell.

Be sure to download the pictures and documents to your computer and back up to an archival device. You can do it a room or two at a time, but be sure to do it.


Step 3: Start with little-used areas

of your home

Don’t try to clear everything out in one fell swoop. Little used areas of your home are a great place to start and allow you to ease into the sorting and assessing process.

Basements, attics, spare bedrooms, closets, bathroom cabinets and shelves, linen closets, and out of the way storage areas can be treasure-troves of unused and unneeded items.


Step 4: Move on to the furniture

Once you know where you are going, it is time to decide what furniture if any you will be taking to your new abode. 

The process can proceed quickly as you tag items with different color tape to designate what you are going to do with them. Don’t forget to label the pictures and artwork as you go through each room. Now you are well on your way.


Step 5: Pack rooms that will not

be going to your new residence

Once furniture, pictures, and artwork have been labeled, it is time to pack and empty the rooms that will not be moving with you. Go through all of the drawers, clear all of the shelves, and put in boxes labeled “take,” “sell”, “maybe,” “giveaway,” and “throw away.”


Step 6: Get rid of books

Moving books is a pain! They are heavy and hard to move. Keep reference books that you will use. Keep sentimental books and books you want to re-read. But really, do you need boxes and boxes of books to cart around? Downsize your collection.


Step 7: Sentimental and legacy items

In the case of sentimental items and collections, be sure to follow the advice above and digitize each item for your archive. If your new residence will not accommodate the entire collection, pick a few favorites and sell or gift the rest to friends or family.

If there are family heirlooms that are going to pass on to future generations consider giving those items now. You get the benefit of having those items out of your way and also enjoying the joy they bring the recipients.


Step 8: Allow time to contemplate and reminisce

Downsizing can be an emotional process. Take time to contemplate and reminisce about past events and people as you sort and pack. Take the time you need and enjoy the process. 

It is appropriate to include a friend or family member to share your experiences and emotions as you review the artifacts of your life to date.


Step 9: Address the kitchen

The kitchen is usually the family hub. It is also where most of the items you use every single day are located. 

The first thing we recommend in the kitchen is an adventure to go through your drawers and cabinets and identify and pull out your old friends, the items you use and love.

The first rule is, take only one of each item. No duplicates! The second rule is, no matter how pretty, don’t move items you haven’t used in years to your new home. Now is the time to lighten the load. You will be surprised at how liberating it is to leave the old things behind and enjoy the best and the new.


Step 10: Arrange for the disposition of your stuff

So now you have digitized and sorted, boxed and discarded, gifted and rewarded. Give some thought to what you are going to do with the boxes and piles of items that are scattered around you.

Start selling the items on Craigslist or eBay and local online buy-sell groups, as soon as possible. Make plans to have your boxes and appropriate furniture delivered to your new home. 

Arrange for the items you are donating to be picked up before your move out date. Get commitments that gift and legacy items will be picked up before your move date.

 Get a firm commitment, date, and time and make them stick to it. No, you aren’t going to store it for them until they can pick it up. 

This list of suggestions is far from complete but hopefully, the tips and ideas will start you on the road to a game plan to make your downsizing adventure easier and more enjoyable.

Stay positive! It is a process and not an event. It will soon be over and you will be off on your new life adventure.


If you have any questions or if you need a free professional consultation, Ahwatukee Realtor Allen Henderson can be reached at 480-392-2090.

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