An unwanted inheritance

For children of  parents who hoard, the mess remains after their parents pass away.

Newsweek  by Hannah R Buchdahl

“Greg Martin wasn’t sure what to expect when his mother died last May, forcing him to return to his childhood home for the first time in nearly 18 years. The house, located on a pleasant block in San Diego, had always been cluttered, but now it was virtually uninhabitable. “There were piles as tall as me, six feet or so,” Greg said. “Where there used to be floor, there were trails—a foot and a half high, so you’d be walking on stuff.” Greg was forced to navigate through piles of magazines, papers, and books, plastic bags filled with thrift-store purchases, expired medicine bottles and literally tons of clothes. The only “living space” was a small pocket by the front door, where his mother, a colorful and fiercely independent woman, had collapsed shortly before her death at the age of 83. Greg, who has taken a leave of absence from his job, expected that cleaning out the house would take six months. It’s now been eight—and counting.”

Books

This book can help you to better understand hoarding even if you are not a professional organizers.

Grey book cover with horaading pictures on the front

Everything A Professional Organizer Needs to Know About Hoarding by Judith Kolberg

Clutter Scale

It can help to get information so you better understand the situation.  You can download a clutter scale at https://www.challengingdisorganization.org/clutter-hoarding-scale-

9 small pictures of bedrooms at varying levels of hoardingICD

The Institute of Challenging Disorganization also has resources available and a directory of Professisonal Organizers that can help a family member who hoards.

Share your stories with us in the comments.

POC Gold Leaf crestJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 Twitter – https://twitter.com/Julieorganizer Facebook – http://facebook.com/mindoverclutter/  

Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space https://www.facebook.com/groups/1881280812154271/

What to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

https://mindoverclutter.ca/what-does-a-professional-organizer-do/

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How to store and preserve old photos

picture of a lady fro m 1930 in a suit wearing pearls

My guest blogger is Wendy Dessler of EverPresent

Photos capture moments that celebrate joy. Sometimes, they’re a snapshot of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Other times, they’re an heirloom to look back on that captures a candid moment with a loved one. In most cases, they’re irreplaceable.

Storing and preserving your old images ensures that your memories persevere. Here are some tips for protecting your precious memories so that they stand the test of time.

Digitize Your Images

The best way to maintain and preserve old photos is to ensure that there is a digital copy. Not only does this keep your memories safe in the event of a disaster, but it also makes it easier to share those memories with other members of your family. For example, using a slide scanning service offer to transfer your old vacation slides to a disc will allow you and your siblings to share the memories without worrying about hard copies.

With the prevalence of cloud and remote technology, it’s easier than ever to digitize your images. Use a cloud sharing service to store copies of your photos to use for future projects and future generations.

Keep Old Photos Out of Light

pile of scattered photos

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The sun and exposure to light over time can have a detrimental impact on your original photos. When storing images, be sure to keep them out of the light. Rather than framing and displaying that original sepia photo of your great grandfather on his farm, make a copy and display that instead. Keep the original stored in a dark area to help maintain it.

It’s not only old polaroids that you have to worry about. Even printed photos from as late as the 1990s and early 2000s are susceptible to light damage. Never display a photo without ensuring you have the original tucked away for safekeeping.

Avoid Pens, Clips, and Rubber Bands

Keeping similar photos together with clips and rubber bands can be tempting, but they can also damage your photos over time. Instead, use dividers to separate your images by date, place or event. When looking for paper dividers, be sure to use archival quality paper that won’t discolor your image over the years.

Noting where the image was taken and who is in it can be beneficial when looking back. It’s a great way to pass along some interesting family history to younger generations. However, writing on the back of the image in pen can indent the front of the image, causing breakage. Furthermore, the ink can seep over time, impacting the image touching the ink from behind.

Get some high-quality sticky notes to adhere to the back of your image and write in pencil when possible. There are also archival-grade pens for this purpose. When using these pens, be sure to allow the ink to dry completely before storing your photos.

Taking measures to protect your photos will keep your memories safe for years to come. Click To Tweet

Make it Air and Water Tight

The more secure your images, the better they will last. Forgo the decorative cardboard and wooden boxes and store your images in airtight totes. Not only will this help protect your images from the elements, but it will make them much easier to transport.

Have Smart Handling Protocols

When taking your photos out, set some ground rules. First and foremost, ensure no one has food or beverages near the photo. One small accident can result in the loss of your precious memories. Be sure that handlers wash their hands first and try to hold the photos by the edges to avoid smudges and fingerprints.

If you plan on handling a lot of images at once or are working on a photo project, it’s worth wearing pure cotton gloves to create a barrier between the images and the natural oils your body produces.

Looking for a Personal Photo Organizer to help you with your photos? Go to APPO and find a directory of photo organizers in your area.

Taking measures to protect your photos will keep your memories safe for years to come.

POC Gold Leaf MemberJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 Twitter – https://twitter.com/Julieorganizer Facebook – http://facebook.com/mindoverclutter/  

Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space https://www.facebook.com/groups/1881280812154271/

What to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

https://mindoverclutter.ca/what-does-a-professional-organizer-do/

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Filing options to keep your papers organized

1. Traditional Filing Cabinets

They come in many sizes and colours.  Make sure to get one with drawer sliders so you can easily reach to the back of each drawer.  Some come with locks others do not.  They can be vertical or horizontal.  Horizontal cabinets provide a space to set things on, a printer, plant etc.  You can buy a stand that has wheels to set under the filing cabinet to make it easier to relocate.

grey metal 2 drawer vertical filing cabinet

 

2. Binders 

Binders are a good solution for visual people.  You can have them on a shelf and easily see all your files.  The binders can be colour coded to make it simple to find the correct binder. Use dividers, pocket dividers or sheet protectors to file papers. Set up the categories you need:  household bills, bank statements, warranties etc  Some binders also have a set of acordion files attached to the binder.  Here is a review of this product. 

Black 3 ring binder with attached accordian file

3 Rolling Crates/ File Boxes on Wheels. 

Use hanging folders and file folders. The advantage to this is you can take them to whatever room you want and the top is open so you can see the files easily.  With the crates, you can stack them for easy storage. 

Whtie plastic crate with hangin file folers

Crates make your files portable

black metal box on wheels with red, orange and yellow hanging file folders.

Crates on wheels make it easy to store away and then move close to your desk

4. Expandable Files

Use one section for each category of paperwork. For example household bills, income tax, financial documents,  insurance policies, warranties, etc.  They are great to have one for each member of the family to store papers relating to them, report cards/school documents , immunization/health records, passport and other documents, certificates etc.  You can also colour code these files.

Blue accordian file with clear sections for papers

Some come with special hooks so you can store them in a filing cabinet or crate.

Blue accordian file with hooks to hang in a black filing cabinet drawer

5. Magazine holders

Magazine holders come in paper and plastic.  They are avalable in many colours and patterns. Try to buy ones with solid sides so papers will not get caught and be hard to slide in.  Use a holder for each category of paper you need to file.  You can colour code your systems making it easier to quickly access the files you need.  You can turn them so the spines is facing out, label them, to reduce the vsiual clutter of seeing all the papers in each box. 

White cardboard magazine holder with papers and file folders in them.

 

What is your preferred method for filing paperwork?

POC Gold Leaf MemberJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 Twitter – https://twitter.com/Julieorganizer Facebook – http://facebook.com/mindoverclutter/  

Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space https://www.facebook.com/groups/1881280812154271/

What to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

https://mindoverclutter.ca/what-does-a-professional-organizer-do/

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Organizing your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for some people.  Coordinating schedules, planning menus and preparing the house can make it a busy time.Make your Thanksgiving Day full of giving thanks. Click To Tweet

Here are some tips to make the day  full of giving thanks and you less stressed.

Let everyone help by bringing a dish to the meal.

1. Let people help

Ask them to bring some of the food.  If you have someone who doesn’t like to cook ask them to arrive early and help greet people at the door.

2. Plan a menu

  • record the amount of food you cook.
  • record the cooking time for each dish
  • reuse the menu, grocery list  and cooking  schedule next year

3. Plan to take a walk

Enjoy time together, be thankful for the beautiful nature around you.

  • Between the main course and dessert have your guests go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air and build an appetite for dessert
  • While your guests are out, you will have time to clear the leftovers and put them in the refrigerator

4. Be thankful

  • let everyone say something they are thankful for, it is amazing how this can create a happy atmosphere at the dinner table

Share your best tip for making Thanksgiving celebrations less stressful.

POC Gold Leaf crest ulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 Twitter –  Facebook  Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

 

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10 Hacks to help parents organize their children’s routines.

You have successfully accomplished back to school organizing but the day to day chores are not getting done and you are feeling overwhelmed.  Clutterbug has a great video, Organizing Hacks for Parents.  Organizing your home to help your children become more independent means that they are able to complete tasks without your help.  This will help daily routines and habits to be accomplished quickly leaving more time for family fun together.

Which hack worked best in your household?

Need some organizing help contact Mind over Clutter, julie@mindoverclutter, to help bring happiness to your home.

POC Gold LeafJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

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Back to school – making homework easy

Plan the best time to do homework. 

Helping your child to be successful with their homework is about planning.  Plan a time when your child can concentrate and an adult is available to lend support to the task.  Some children will be able to do homework right after they finish school other children will need time to do some physical activity  before they can concentrate and yet other children will need to eat first.

Mother and child and after school homework

Have a quiet area near an adult . Children may need support from an adult at times to be successful

 

Plan the best space for doing homework 

You will need a spot that has limited distractions, minimize stimulation from video screens and phones and reduce loud conversations with other family members in the homework area.

Plan a schedule for completing large projects 

Large projects take more than one night to complete.  Help your child learn how to plan ahead.  Look at the week and weekend and see what time is available to work on the project.  Divide the project into smaller sections that can be completed a little at a time during the week and on the weekend.  At first it takes a lot of discipline from the parent and the child but as the family gets used to planning ahead your child will tell you that they need your help with some homework and the only night you are both home is Wednesday.  It will be great when they take over the time management of homework.

Large projects can be broken down into smaller sections and a little parts can be completed each day.

Teach your child management so they will have enough time to complete large projects.

Each child will be different, some will like quiet spaces and others will like to be around people. Some tasks will need large spaces and others will need hardly any space. Click To Tweet

Have a portable homework station that can move with you. 

Many families have shared custody of children between parents and some families are always on the move taking children to after school events where children need to do homework while they are waiting for siblings to finish an activity.

have supplies on hand that can be taken with you so your child can complete their homework on the move.

Help your child be able to complete their homework quickly

 

Help your child be prepared so they can complete their homework quickly

Have a portable homework station that can be taken anywhere

Taking into consideration all the variables, homework areas need to be portable.  Children need have a container with all the pens, pencils, markers, erasers, rulers, a stapler, tape, glue, paper, calculator etc. they need.  This container can be used in any room in the house allowing for flexibility.  Let your child organize the container since they know what they need.   This container can be put in the car and taken along to activities, babysitters, parent’s homes.  It is important that children have the supplies they need and learn to take care of them so they can get their work done.  If you choose to have one room or area for homework make sure to consult your child about what it should look like so they want to work in that area.

Share your tip for making homework and enjoyable experience.

POC Gold LeafJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

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7 Organizing Packing Tips for a Move Across the Country

Depositphotos_73413557_m-2015

My son  told me he would be moving across the country to start a new job.  He would be leaving in 2 weeks.  Can you help pack Mom?  Long distant moves on a budget require a lot of planning before the packing begins.  Some of you maybe moving for a job or for schooling.  Take a deep breath and relax.

If you are not hiring a moving company

This move involved selling anything and everything people were interested in buying.  Put your ads for the things you are selling on Kijiji or Craigslist.   Don’t forget about neighbourhood swap and selling sites on Facebook.  You may  have multiple sites in your area and it makes scheduling pickups so much easier when you know that they are in your neighbourhood. But don’t forget the most important source for your sales.  Tell your friends and family and ask them to tell their friends, family and co-workers.  One of my readers shared, “do an Internet Garage Sale where you made a list of items with prices, emailed it to everyone you know, and asked them to share it with others. We  were able to sell quite a few of our larger and more valuable items that way.” Don’t be shy.

Smaller items need to be sold too

You may need to sell clothing, jewelry or home decor items.  Take them to consignment stores. Leave the information for picking up the cash with a friend or relative. They can e-transfer it to you.

Determine what you will take, store and ship. 

Moving out

In this case he was driving a car across the country.  He would be staying with relatives until he found an apartment.  He knew of a few people who would be flying out to see him in the next few months.  With this information the packing began.  For each item, it had to be decided if it would be packed:

  • in the car
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring next month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring the following month
  • in a suitcase for someone to bring later
  • in a box because there were items that he might want when he had an apartment
  • in a plastic bin and stored

You never know what you might want shipped 

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

Knowing what is in every box makes it easy to find what you need

As boxes and bins were packed someone was in charge of keeping an inventory of what went in each box and bin and labeling the container with a corresponding number to the list.  We used google docs so later in the week when more things were packed or removed from boxes the list could be changed and a new list doesn’t have to be emailed to anyone.  You don’t have to worry if you are using the most up to date list.  The reason to do an inventory is so you can find items that might be shipped later.  The hope is that the whole box will shipped but more likely he will decide on certain items and they might be packed in a number of different boxes.

Food

We started by going through the cupboards and anything that was unopened and not expired was donated to the food bank.  This can be done early in the packing session and it is an easy way to start.  No difficult decisions need to be made.  Some food can be used during the 2 weeks, some disposed of and then  find a friend who will be happy to take your food.

Donate

Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

Remember to donate items to charity and not to put them in the garbage.

As time moved on he found things he didn’t want or need, couldn’t sell or give a way or give back to people.  Donate these items to charity.  It is easy to think no one wants them and start putting them in the garbage but most things can be donated.  It takes just as much time to put them in a garbage bag as in a box or bag to go to a charity.  You will probably be eating out so you can take them to the charity on the way to dinner.

You’re finally finished

You are probably tired and overwhelmed and over stressed.  Just take a big breath.  You did a great job, you are about to start a new adventure .  Focus on that.  Don’t focus on the stuff.  Enjoy the trip and the time off before the new jobs begin.

What is your advise for moving across the country in a car, on a plane or in a train?

POC Gold LeafJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

 

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Organizing a student’s move to university or college

Organize the right amount of stuff to take.

Panic maybe starting to set in.  This is the time of year for back to school.  Some of you maybe moving a student to a school close to home, some may have a long drive to the new school and others may have to fly.  Whether you may be able to make multiple trips to your student’s school or if you have one chance to get it right,  Anne Wynter’s    How to Cut College Clutter  shares many tips in this lovely blog post about:

  1. Clothes
  2. Documents
  3. Mini Kits
  4. Sentimental Items
Having an over abundance of possessions in your dorm room or apartment can contribute to poor time management and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed, Click To Tweet

Make your move a successful, low stress enjoyable event.

dorm room organizing

How much should I take?

Organize your employment

Once your student is settled at college they may need a job.  Finding suitable work maybe easier than you think.  This article,  Ways to make money in college from Aaron Whitman of Careful Cents has many employment opportunities to suit any timetable.  Whether your student chooses to work a little or a lot any income helps to reduce their  overall debt that they might incur at the end of their education. Plan ahead with your finances. In addition balancing work and school also teaches time management skills.

If you need help packing up your student for their move to university contact Mind over Cluttter. julie@mindoverclutter.ca

POC Gold LeafJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

 

 

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6 Organizing tips for laundry and your student- Bring it home or do it at school?

Success in doing laundry starts with packing the right clothes.When packing for college or university stay away from white clothes, they will turn grey and red clothes that will turn everything pink.  Leave them at home.Discuss who is responsible for doing laundry before your student leaves for university. Click To Tweet

1. Practice

 If your student has not done laundry at home use the last week or two before they leave to teach them how to use a washer, sort laundry, empty pockets and use a stain remover .

2. Money

Find out if the washers and dryers need coins or if money is put on a plastic swipe card.  Put some money on the card or send coins to get them started and into the habit of doing laundry.

3. Laundry ” Basket”

Provide a central collection area for their laundry in their room.  It might be on the back of a door or chair, a bin or bag in the closet. It needs to be portable so they can move it easily to the Laundromat which may be on another floor.

Collapsible Laundry Basket

Mesh laundry baskets let damp things dry until they are washed

cloth laundry bag

Put a laundry bag on the back of a door.

 

Backpack laundry bags make it easy to get everything to the laudromat.

Backpack laundry bags make it easy to get everything to the laudromat.

Plastic ventilated laundry basket.

A basket can be put in any convenient location and is sitting open easily to throw clothes in.

4. Supplies

Buy liquid laundry detergent because it dissolves quickly and comes in small bottles. It is better to have a supply of small bottles than a large one which is heavy and hard to take to the Laundromat.  Buy fabric sheets for the dryer as the student will probably never be there for the rinse cycle.

5. A place to hang damp clothes

Have a place to hang up clothes – a line, door hooks or a free-standing wire rack in their room for things that are damp or that they don’t want to put in the dryer.

wooden folding clothes drying rack

Use a rack to dry clothes and save money

Folding Clothes Drying Rack

Folding wooden or wire racks can be hidden away when they are not in use under the bed or in the closet.

Plastic over the door hooks

Over the door hooks come in many styles to fit the door and space.

 

over the door hooks are great for hanging up damp clothes

over the door hooks are great for hanging up damp clothes

6. Who does the laundry, parent, student, home or at school?

Decide if you will do their laundry when they come home on weekends. Set the policy early so there are no surprises.

Share your experience about laundry successes and failures.

POC Gold LeafJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 TwitterFacebook – Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

 

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Getting ready to sell your house?

Here are 11 Things Most People Forget to Do

Thanks to my guest blogger Jeff  Anttila of Redfin for sharing his tips on getting your house ready for the real estate market.

You’ve started on your lists of small repairs, you’ve contacted a real estate agent, and now you’re in the final steps of getting ready to sell your house. But before you put your home up for sale, and certainly before having your first open house, here are 11 things to consider that most home sellers forget to think about and could cost you a sale.

1. Declutter and Organize Your Closets and Cabinets

Sure, you went through your entire house and reduced the clutter in each room, organized your desk and other surfaces, and arranged your collection of antique ceramic kitty figurines to be facing perpendicular to the window. However, did you tackle your closets and cabinets? One thing you should definitely expect during an open house or individual home tours is that potential home buyers will be looking in your closets, kitchen drawers and cabinets. Will your walk-in closet fit all of his shoes and her summer dresses? Is there enough storage space in your kitchen for their cookware, bakeware, and all the kitchen gadgets that they seem to collect each year? These are all questions home buyers will be asking themselves as they walk through your home.

Of course, you as a home seller will have no idea what the needs are of a potential home buyer, but you can definitely showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage. Start by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, and then keeping only enough belongings in each to really show off the potential that space has to offer. Think of it as an extension of staging your home, but for your storage areas.

2. Clean Stains and Eliminate Odors

We should all consider small stains, marks, and other imperfections as badges of honor for a house that has been lived in for years. Nonetheless, these slight bumps and bruises your home has encountered over time will stick out to potential home buyers, so tackle them head-on. Begin by trying to put yourself in the shoes of a potential home buyer and look at your house objectively. Start by going outside and then re-entering your house as if you didn’t actually own it but were an interested home buyer looking at it for the first time. What do you see? Walk through every room and take note of all the imperfections you notice. You might surprise yourself with how quickly your list grows. You can then add them to your list of repairs so you can make your house truly be at its best before your first open house. Also, if you have pets there is a strong possibility that your home has an odor which you can no longer smell. Deep cleaning your house is a sure fire way to help eliminate these odors, but also think about using an odor eliminating spray every day for about a week before your first open house. You can also place plugin room fresheners that offer a great crisp smell, like cucumber, to help infuse a sense of cleanliness throughout your house.

3. Replace Light Bulbs

Walk through each room in your house and look at every light bulb to see if it’s working. As homeowners, we sometimes forget to immediately replace a light bulb when it goes out. You want your house to be at its brightest when new home buyers are touring your home and replacing old burnt out light bulbs is one of the easiest ways to do it. Also, don’t forget to walk around the outside of your house to make sure all the lights of your home’s exterior are working as well. Depending on the time of year, your open house or home tours could happen when the sun is going down or when it’s already dark. So be sure to make your house shine inside and out!

Pro tip: Make sure all your light bulbs are the same color temperature inside your house as well as outside. A soft-white light LED bulb can create a bright but welcoming environment for new home buyers.

4. Think About the Small Details: Plants, Mirrors, Rugs

Consider each room’s individual characteristics, so you can really showcase the potential every room in your house can offer. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind while you start prepping every space for an exceptional open house experience.

 Add a little green to your spaces

Nothing breathes life into a room more than a little greenery. A potted tree can work wonders in a living room, but for smaller areas think smaller plants such as a small potted herb garden in the kitchen or a miniature cactus on the mantel.

Open up even the smallest rooms

Mirrors can make small spaces seem large because they create the illusion of depth. Mirrors also work wonders in darker rooms as they reflect light deep into areas of a room that may not receive an abundance of natural light.

 Add character to an otherwise unimpressive space

While staging your home, think about adding character to various spaces with rugs. However, keep in mind that you want to use rugs to enhance a space, not be the focal point of it. Also, if you have a strange space that you never really figured out a good use for, a rug could at least offer a little personality while leaving the space and its potential to the imaginations of home buyers.

 

5. Enhance Your Outdoor Space

You’re probably already aware that enhancing your curb appeal is one of the most impactful things you can do to create a great first impression. However, you don’t want to forget about your other outdoor areas, such as your front porch or entrance, your back entrance, side yard, and backyard. You want to enhance your outdoor spaces around the house so potential buyers can see themselves living as much outside your house as inside. Simple enhancements like placing potted plants to your front entrance or adding fresh beauty bark around the base of your hedges and trees can go a long way. If you don’t already have a designated outdoor space for entertaining, think about building a DIY fire pit and adding four Adirondack chairs to create the idea of outdoor fun. Ultimately, your outdoor space can be just as important of a space as what your home has to offer on the inside.

6. Get Professional (Aerial) Photography

By now your research has probably shown you that homes with professional photos sell for more and spend less time on the market on average. What you may not have considered is adding aerial photography to your listing photos. Aerial photography can show off your entire property, a scenic view, and the surrounding area.  If you have a lot of property, an aerial shot can easily put into perspective the full scope all your land has to offer to potential home buyers. Furthermore, aerial photography has come a long way thanks to the rapid development of drone technology, resulting in reasonable pricing that is accessible for many homeowners today. For higher-end listings, drones can even capture video of your property, helping it stand out among the hundreds of other homes for sale.

7. Don’t Forget About Your Gutters

Imagine that you’re having your first open house and despite the rain, foot traffic has been steadily increasing all morning. Your house looks immaculate, like one of those home’s off of an HGTV show, and your real estate agent has been messaging you updates every hour about how great it’s going. But then the unexpected happens. A small stream of water starts coming down right in front of your large bay window in the living room. The stream is outside the house, but your would-be buyers watch on as it grows into a miniature waterfall. Red flags go up for the home buyers touring your house as the foot traffic thins then disappears altogether. What they didn’t see was that the spillage was the result of a clogged gutter, nothing more, causing water to spill over in a very inopportune place and at the worst time. Depending on where you live, you may not see as much rain in locations like Phoenix, AZ, but in many locations where rainfall is a common occurrence, such as Seattle, WA, this situation is more likely to happen. If you don’t have time to clean your gutters yourself—because you have a house to sell and a million other little things to do—there are professional services that can clean your gutters for you so this little oversight doesn’t drown out your hopes of selling your home quickly.

8. Paint Your Baseboards and Crown Molding

It’s pretty common knowledge that you should paint the interior of your home a neutral color to appeal to more buyers. Home buyers want to imagine themselves and their stuff in your space, so your red accent wall will need to be painted over with a more neutral hue. But what a lot of home sellers forget to do is pay attention to their baseboards and crown molding. Where crown molding may just need some cleaning and touch-ups, your baseboards most likely have seen a lot more traffic, especially if you have kids. It may be a toy truck that has repeatedly crashed into your white baseboards, crayons that went rogue, or the black rubber wheels from bikes racing down the hallway, most likely your baseboards have been marked with years of life experiences.

To correct these homely blemishes, you can try cleaning your baseboards with simple dish soap and water. But if it has been years of wear and abuse, you most likely will need to paint. Use a paint with a semi-gloss finish that will offer a light sheen but not glossy enough to distract attention away from your floors. You can also match your crown molding using the same paint, making every room pop to potential home buyers. Of course, if you end up hiring painters to repaint that accent wall of yours, you might as well have them paint your baseboards while they’re there.

9. Focus on Your Floors

Your hardwood floors were once beautiful and one of the initial reasons you bought your home, but after years of traffic your hardwoods have since dulled to a shadow of their former glory. Likewise, your once plush carpet has also now matted down into obvious paths that lead from room to room. One of the first things potential home buyers look at when entering a new home is the floors, so make yours a statement. If your carpet is approaching that 10-year mark, it is most likely looking pretty worn. Think about recarpeting your house to make it look fresh and ready for new homeowners. Such as you did with your walls, you’ll want to go more neutral in color to appeal to the majority of home buyers. If your carpet is only a few years old, however, getting it professionally cleaned can go a long way in bringing your carpet back to life.

If you have hardwood floors bring them back to their former glory by refinishing them. Refinishing hardwood floors typically includes sanding down the floors to eliminate the original finish and stain, then restaining with the desired color followed by a coat or two of sealer. Your floors will look brand new and really stand out during the open house.

10. Gather Your Documents

You might not be aware of this but you’ll want to gather all the documents you have in regards to warranties, manuals, service records, and repairs done to your house. These documents are hugely important for several reasons and certain ones are needed by different parties before you sell your house. Your agent is your best friend during the home selling process. They are also your homes’ first line of marketing and the more information they have about your house, the better they can promote it. They will write out the specific details of your home as well as an enticing description that will highlight key features that home buyers want. So, if you’ve made recent updates like a new deck, new roof, updated HVAC, or if your home has hot water on demand make sure your agent knows it and you have the paperwork to back it up.

During the home inspection process, home inspectors are going to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb. If your furnace or water heater hasn’t been serviced in years, they’ll let you know. Take a proactive approach by gathering all your service records so you’ll know ahead of time if something needs to be serviced before listing your home.

However, beyond the paperwork your agent and the home inspector would like to see, title companies require very specific documentation in order for you to even sell your home, including:

  • Mortgage loan information, which will show any outstanding mortgage balance and pay-off balance (if there is any)
  • Final purchase and sale agreement
  • Deed
  • Title report
  • Property tax information, including most recent tax statement
  • Homeowners insurance information
  • Lease agreement, if you’re currently renting the property
  • Any reports or documentation that relates to the property
    • Warranty paperwork, permits, service documentation, instruction manuals, dates of home improvement projects, and age of the roof, furnace, hot water heater, HVAC, and all the other major appliances.
  1. Pre-Sale Home Inspection

The last thing most people don’t think about before they sell their home is getting a pre-sale home inspection. Though it is not mandatory, a pre-sale home inspection is a proactive approach to understanding your home’s condition at that point in time, and if there are any repairs that need attention, you can address them now versus trying to do it during the home selling process. Home buyers will most likely get a home inspection of their own, right? So, why would you get one as a seller? A home inspection report will most likely turn up a list of repairs that will need to be fixed. Would you prefer to fix these issues now before you list your home, or after you’re in negotiations with a potential buyer? If you wait, you may push back the sale date of your house as repairs are being made. Or, home buyers may ask for concessions on your asking price in order to cover the repairs and the time it takes to make them. Ultimately, getting a pre-sale home inspection will leave you in a better position when it comes time to negotiate with potential buyers. You may feel like spending a lot of time and money on your house is pointless because you’re just going to sell it anyway, right? Just consider that the more you appeal to the majority of home buyers the more bids you’ll likely see and ultimately help you sell your house quicker and for more money.

Which tip was most helpful for you? 

Originally published on Redfin

POC Gold Leaf MemberJulie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

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