Tips to downsize your home

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Breezy Mama Editor Lan gives us tips for downsizing your home.

As my parents approach 80 and need more assistance, they are finally making the move to be closer to my siblings. Selling a house, however, is just the start of their journey to this next stage in their lives. They have decades of items to sell, get rid of and donate as they move from a four-bedroom home into a two-bedroom apartment.

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While the task may seem daunting, the job can be done if taken in stages. Jacquie Denny, co-founder of online estate and auction platform EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE, has some tips to help make this project seem more manageable.

Start with doing the old “Your house is on fire” thought-experiment. Think about what’d you’d grab if you only had a few minutes to pick out five things that matter the most to you. This exercise gives you a reality check about what is important to you and what’s not.

Only keep the items that have the most value to you, not necessarily in terms of dollars, but sentimental or legacy items that you want to be passed from generation to generation. On average, this is only about 1-5% of your possessions, so you’re likely overestimating the number of things later generations will actually want to inherit.

Have your family over for a fun dinner and discovery event. See what items they would like to have as part of their home. Gift them now, so you can see them enjoy them and, as a bonus, you can visit whenever you like.

Think about your priorities. To use one example, china and stemware tend to take up a lot of space and lose their value more quickly than other home goods, so you really only want to keep them if you plan on hosting formally. If you love to throw nice dinner parties, these items are expensive to replace and are probably must-haves. If you plan on traveling a lot or adopting a more casual entertaining style, then you’d probably want to consider selling them.

The resale value of household goods depends on a lot of factors and can fluctuate based on different trends. Sometimes, you can earn a lot more by donating items and then writing it off as a tax-deduction than you can by selling them outright.  That’s why it’s important to consult an expert on things you think might be valuable.

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Once you’ve weeded out what you want to keep, get rid of, or sell, it may be worth your time (and money) to hire a professional to come in and manage the sale and in some cases the donation of your possessions. EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE, which now services 20 cities, manages everything from appraising and cataloging to marketing and mailing items out to the winning bidders – so you can focus on moving on.

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