Brace for Impact: Successfully Navigate the Uncertainty of a Home Transition
By Caroline Carter
- The Framework – Consult with an experienced professional home stager. The most important first step is to truly understand how to best position your home to sell for top dollar. While being firm but flexible, the ideal professional should fully outline the complete and immediate needs of the property, with special attention paid to the “problem areas”. An action list should be provided to outline ways in which to create the highest level of visual impact for the prospective buyer. A detailed timeline will help you to understand the sequence of events during the stage, sell and move process. Ensure that the professional covers these areas, so you fully comprehend the process. This will help you make an informed decision whether to move forward on your own or choose to hire a professional team to navigate and manage the parts of or the whole process for you.
- The Cost – There are multiple aspects to properly estimating, calculating and allocating the total financial and emotional costs of a completed stage, sell and move process. It is common to dramatically underestimate the total costs of the project. It is imperative to have a complete understanding of the different cost elements, their possible ranges [min à max] based on project specifics and your own capacity to manage everything over the course of the project. Basic cost elements are straightforward: packing material, staging, hauling, painting, contracting, electrical, carpet cleaning and/or replacement, power washing, landscape clean up, window washing, moving, decorating and more.The more complex cost to quantify is the emotional one; how you and your family can deal with all the expected and unexpected bumps in the road. You may have anchored thoughts about your home and the sales process that turn out to be inaccurate. For instance, your home may not be worth what you think it is and the way you live might not be the most appropriate way to present the property for sale. It is an exhausting and overwhelming task to sort through the contents of your home and correctly identify the proper elements and configuration for successful staging. The challenge for the entire project is to continue to make high quality decisions [sometimes on very short notice] across many different areas to continue to move forward to a successful outcome.The most critical aspect of any transitioning family to be aware of: people tend to make poor quality decisions under stressful conditions. This is especially important when you consider the various cost values of a transition project.Often, some of these poor judgements are made on some of the costliest elements: absolutely the reverse of a desired outcome.
- The “Tour Leader” – At the very start of the project, decide who will oversee the transition process. It is easy to underestimate the total time commitment required to be successful while still having an active and demanding day job. While some families can successfully allocate duties and responsibilities across multiple family members, it often falls on one member.
- The Plan – Armed with a detailed action plan and an appropriate timeline, it’s time to get started. Before you begin, secure all valuables: jewelry, critical documents and irreplaceable treasures. Now imagine your house completely empty, as this is the image you will carry with you for the next phase of the process. Over a period of days or weeks you will identify each item to decide its ultimate disposition: packed and stored, sold, moved to another house, donated, disposed of or given to friends, churches or other institutions. Create an online inventory to track donations and to use for tax itemizing and deductions. If items are not going to be used to stage the house to sell, then pack by type, not by room. Your new house will rarely have the exact same footprint as the house you are selling.
- The Waiting Game – Living in your newly staged house is much like living in a hotel [and not in a vacation type of way]. Accept that it’s not personal and it’s in your family’s’ best interest to adapt quickly to the new regime. It may take days, weeks or months to accept an offer on your house. Once the contract is ratified and the closing date is agreed upon, you will be back in motion and ready to complete the next and last phase of the transition.
- The Move – Find a top-rated moving company. It pays to shop around and to acknowledge the adage “you get what you pay for”. The final packing and move day is extremely long and stressful. Pack your “go bag” for several nights to ensure that your family and pets have what they need to live for several days. Put aside clean sheets for all beds to travel with you by car so they are easily located. It is important to have cash on hand to tip the team leader and his workers if the move was exceptionally executed. Regardless of what you hear, tips are not expected but greatly appreciated, and cash is king!
- Breathe – You’re home! Approach the unpacking of your new home as an ER doctor triages patients in the waiting room. Tackle critical rooms first: kids’ bedrooms and baths, followed by kitchen, master bed and bath and temporary play or study space. Non-essential rooms such as living, dining, offices, garages, attics and mudrooms can be unpacked and designed at a more leisurely pace. Be patient and kind to yourself and your family during this final stage in the move. It is one of the most difficult you will encounter as your need for order is high after months of uncertainty and discomfort. Accept that perfection in design and new routines take time to establish. In fact, it may take up to a year to feel truly settled in your new home.
You may decide to undertake this overwhelming project on your own or prefer to hire a professional home transition company to assist with all aspects of the project. It’s best to meet with a professional as soon as you consider selling your home, so you fully understand the process and can weigh all your options. Most importantly, the value of your own time will help you decide the right path for you.