Graduation season has come and gone. For many parents, this milestone event can be a catalyst for a change in their own lives, prompting the decision to downsize.
"Deciding to sell your home and downsize should not be a snap decision if avoidable, with most people taking an average of seven months to get their house ready to go on the market," Caroline Carter, a home transition expert and author of "SMART MOVES: How to Save Time and Money While Transitioning Your Home and Life ," wrote in an email.
Carter's book includes the following tips to help sellers make strategic emotional, financial and physical decisions to ensure a successful move.
1. Pace yourself. From the onset, there are two golden rules for success: Understand that the process is a marathon, not a sprint, and understand that it is about getting your house ready to showcase to prospective buyers, not about you.
2. Get organized. Start with paperwork. This will require sorting, categorizing and arranging your medical, financial, school and other personal papers into "keep or shred" files. Be sure to make a list of important phone numbers, such as those for doctors, insurance agents and banks.
3. Timing is everything. It is best to perform these organizing tasks when you're not pressed for time. The same goes for sorting through the attic, basement and garage. Consider them first steps, undertaken before going through your house room by room, and well in advance of posting a "for sale" sign in the yard.
4. Take control of your stuff. The average house has about 300,000 items — which can quickly overwhelm anyone. Go through each room and take everything out to view it clearly and in one space. Identify and put aside what you'll use to stage your house, and sort other items into pack, sell, dump and donate categories. My must-haves for the process? Blue painter's tape and a black marker to mark each item.
5. Out with the old. Sign up online for free pickups by local charities that accept gently used clothing, furniture and household items.