It may seem like you’re putting the proverbial cart before the horse, but one of the first things you should do before putting your home on the market (after calling me, of course) is to start packing. But it does make a little bit of sense, right? The whole reason you’re putting your house on the market is because you’re planning to move. So why not get a head start?
Now, before you start hitting up all your friends and local businesses for their extra boxes (liquor stores are a GREAT place for boxes, and you can also pick up a bottle of wine to help the process along), let’s think about this strategically. You should start the packing process intentionally in a way that will not only make the moving process easier in the long run, but will dramatically increase the marketability of your home.
First, WHY should you start packing before your house is on the market?
Well, why not? But seriously, you have to do it anyway, so you might as well start now!
Perhaps the most important goal in packing early is to depersonalize your home, and this actually serves a dual purpose. First, when potential buyers tour your home, they want to envision THEIR family living there. If every room has umpteen pictures of YOUR family on display, it could make them feel unwelcome, as if they are intruding in someone else’s home. Also, if you have children whose pictures are on display when buyers come through, there is now a whole host of people that you don’t know who know what your child looks like and where he or she lives. Creepy, right?
By packing early, you are also better showcasing important features in your home. Buyers love to look in closets. Each and every one. If your closet is so jam-packed that it appears that nothing else could possibly fit in, it signals to buyers that the house doesn’t have enough storage space. Buyers want to see that there’s plenty of room for their belongings. Same for the kitchen- I don’t know about you, but my tupperware cabinet is the bain of my existence. How do we accumulate so many mismatched pieces anyway? I know every time I open mine, there’s a 50/50 chance that we’re going to get an avalanche. I guarantee you that buyers are going to open your kitchen cabinets just like they’re going to open up your closets. If a deluge of tupperware or plastic cups comes flying out at them, that’s going to leave a lasting impression, and not the kind we want.
Second, WHERE do you put all this extra stuff?
So where do all of these boxes from the liquor store full of your most personal prized possession and mismatched tupperware lids live while your house is on the market? You’ve got a couple of options. First, if you have a garage, that’s a great place. Most people in our area do not use their garage for parking, at least not the entire garage. So buyers expect the garage to be used for storage. Just try to keep it neat and not like something out of an episode of Hoarders or Storage Wars. Same goes if you have a basement. Again, try to make it look like organized chaos and not chaos for the sake of chaos.
You could always lean on a friend or relative to store some things for you, depending on what it is. Better yet, you can rent a short term storage unit or portable storage unit, like a POD. With a POD, you can have it delivered right to your new home, mismatched tupperware lids and all.
So WHAT are you supposed to pack up?
You don’t want your house to be barren, unless you plan on moving out completely. So how do you even start to think about strategically packing?
First, get those personal items packed up. These should be easy since many of them are on display. Think family photos and things with your family name on them. And if you have kids, and are a sentimental sap like I am, you likely have at least one Rubbermaid container full of your children’s keepsakes. It drives my husband crazy, but I am 100% positive that my children and grandchildren are eventually going to be totally psyched that I saved their baby clothes and school projects. If you’ve got photo albums, old yearbooks, throw those in that box too. And don’t forget to safely sequester and pack up all of your personal documents- think passports, savings bonds, marriage licenses, titles to vehicles, insurance policies, etc. You don’t want things like this in the house unsecured when buyers are touring your home, and you don’t want them getting lost in the move.
Second, if your house is going on the market in June, your coat closet does not need to be full of heavy winter jackets. Just like your closet doesn’t need to be full of summer dresses if your house is going on the market in November. And if you box up off-season clothes in garment boxes and stow them in a closet or under a bed like I do, get those out of the house. If a buyer happens to look under your bed and sees that the space is full of stored items, they are again going to think the house doesn’t have ample storage space.
And just like you’re culling out the seasonal clothes, all holiday decorations and items should be packed up as well. If your house is hitting the market in March, you don’t need 5 huge boxes of Christmas decorations taking up room in a closet. Everyone might not have 5 huge boxes like I do, but I do tend to go a bit overboard for Christmas (also drives my husband crazy, but that’s another blog post). I normally do not recommend holiday decorations in a home while it’s on the market. You could potentially alienate potential buyers who might be put off by a house decorated for a holiday they don’t celebrate. Some generic seasonal decorations can be delightful, but steer clear from overtly religious decorations if you can.
Third, any excess in your house can be packed up. Do you have six casserole dishes? Pack up 4 or 5. Do you have 72 bath towels in your linen closet? Pare it down to 6 or 7. How about shoes? Are you on your way to becoming the next Imelda Marcos? At least get the out of season shoes packed up and out of the house. In your bathroom, clear out all duplicates and excess products and toiletries.
So while initially, it might seem premature to start packing your belongings before your house even hits the market, I can guarantee you that it will ensure better feedback on your home, make it more marketable, decrease the time it spends on the market, and increase the number and size of the offers you receive on your home. I’ve represented sellers who have heeded my advice and seen the positive results. And I’ve represented sellers who have ignored my advice, only to say to me closer to settlement that they should have listened to me in the beginning.
But the best thing we can do to make sure that your home puts its best foot forward is to walk through it together. I go through countless homes, both as a listing agent and as a buyer’s agent, so I know what buyers are looking for and what your competition looks like. If you’d like me to do a walkthrough of your home and help you with a strategic packing plan, contact me today!