Americans have taken many lessons from the pandemic. One is the supreme importance of close ties to family and friends. Another is the centrality of home and having comfort, space and privacy for every member of the household.
“For more than a year, we lived with extreme limitations. Now that COVID-19 is nearly over, people are impatient with further delays or postponements. There’s an urgency to now, and that applies to the place where folks desire to live,” says Michael Crowley, a longtime real estate broker.
It isn’t only boomers who wish to hasten moving plans that were long postponed due to the pandemic. It’s also young singles and couples who aspire to larger quarters.
“Young homeowners know this is a tremendously good time to sell because home values have risen to a very high level. One reason they want to sell their starter home immediately is they fear this strong seller’s market can’t last indefinitely,” says Crowley, a past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org).
John Lovallo, a housing analyst for Bank of America Securities, says the aging of the millennial population --born between 1981 and 1996 -- is a major factor now underscoring real estate markets.
“A very strong wave of demographic support is now coming through the pipeline,” says Lovallo, who contends that many millennials are now involved in an “urban exodus,” which has them selling their city properties in favor of larger homes in the suburbs.
As listing agents constantly reiterate, the first step to prepping a house for sale is to free the property of excess accumulations so potential buyers can see the true dimensions of its rooms and imagine themselves living there.
Dana K. White, the author of “Decluttering at the Speed of Life,” has moved six times in her adult life and hopes to soon move again from her 2,000-square-foot rancher in a Dallas suburb. She says that during her last move, she learned the hard way how to expedite the clearing process.
“My house was a disaster, which made me desperate,” says White, who outlines the purging process she perfected through her books, blog and podcast.
One of White’s core recommendations to sellers is that the removal of superfluous items from a property should take priority over reorganizing belongings.
“Your house will feel a lot less overwhelming if your first step is to free yourself of all the trash, recyclables and items to donate to charity,” she says.
White doesn’t oppose the idea of selling one’s excess possessions -- for example, on eBay. But she’s learned from personal experience, as well as from her followers, that attempting to sell unwanted items can needlessly delay decluttering.
Here are a few pointers for home sellers in a hurry:
-- Look into the high cost of hiring a moving company.
“Average millennials have a bright future with many moves ahead. Hauling all that baggage with them or paying to store it slows them down, and isn’t either wise or cost-effective,” says Tanya Whitford, a former actress and certified professional organizer whose clients include many in the entertainment field.
Some millennials are tempted to store their belongings at the home of their parents. But Whitford says this too could be a flawed strategy.
“Maybe your parents will refuse to house all your stuff, or they’ll need to downsize their housing in the near future,” Whitford says.
“Usually the only things you should keep are cherished memorabilia and things you’ll need in the immediate future,” she says.
-- Donate as many superfluous items as possible.
Beverly Coggins, the author of books on both time management and decluttering, suggests that those who must pare their possessions dispense with any clothing they haven’t used in a year or longer. The same applies to many other household items.
She says many people feel especially anxious about letting go of things given to them as gifts from relatives or close friends. But she says such guilt feelings are needless.
“It doesn’t mean you love the person any less because you can’t keep everything they give you,” she says.
Coggins also suggests you take photos of treasured items that are too large to move. These could be hung up in your new domain.
-- Request pickup services to hasten the giveaway process.
Many home sellers find it easier to let go of extra belongings if they know they’ll go to good use. That’s why Coggins and other professional organizers often advocate contacting charitable organizations interested in collecting serviceable items.
Very often, charity groups will pick up items from your home, a convenient way to free yourself of clutter quickly. Also, with a pickup appointment, you’ll have a definite deadline for your work, which can serve as a motivating factor.
-- Keep your focus on your future.
Nowadays, the reality is that many are decluttering to hasten a trade-up move before home prices make that option unobtainable. Yet many who declutter in advance of a move find it has many favorable aspects, including the lessening of personal stress.
Coggins also notes that another benefit of purging is that it reduces home upkeep demands, affording you more time to focus on the people most important to you.
“After clearing through all their extra things, many folks realize what’s most important to them is not all those inanimate objects but their close relationships,” she says.
(To contact Ellen James Martin, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)