One of the basics of selling your home, or enjoying it to the fullest, is getting rid of clutter. As they say, a cluttered home means a cluttered mind – and often chaos in your life. However, if you have been trying to get rid of clutter for years, it might be time to call in a professional to get the job done.
In the last three years, I have personally had the occasion to help two elderly family members make the move from their “forever homes” to senior housing. It’s no easy task deciding what should be kept or removed during a very emotional time.
In anticipation of the Daily Camera’s Aging at Altitude Expo, an event which presents services and seminars to help seniors, I interviewed Susie Regnier to hear her insights. Susie owns an organizing and decluttering business, ClutterLess Boulder (ClutterLessBoulder.com), which has been helping homeowners for a decade. She has helped several clients move out of their “forever” family home into assisted living situations.
According to Susie, “one of the major benefits of having a third-party help with the process is the fact that it can be a very emotional and sentimental time of life. When somebody has raised a family and lived in a home 40 years, they often think everything needs to go to the new location.” In her years in the business, Susie shares, “I have learned to take a compassionate yet practical approach to help homeowners determine what actually needs to make the move. A third party can be the facilitator for getting the job done, which otherwise might continue to be put off.”
Like most things in life, Susie says, “the earlier you can get started in the decluttering process the better. One of the simplest things is getting rid of duplicates! For example, if there are only two people left in the house, does the kitchen still need 20 coffee mugs? Early on, it is important to assemble all the key players to determine what items are actually family heirlooms versus just an old couch.” In fact, this process goes a few steps further. “In most cases, all the belongings can be divided into four categories. The first and most important are family heirlooms, like the 150-year-old grandfather clock, and whether a family member will take the item now, or if it will be moved to the new location. Next is the ‘move to new location’ category. These are items that will both fit in and be used in the new location. The third category includes the items that should be donated to charity. Fourth and final are the items for which it is really time to go to the dumpster or to recycling.”
To help with the third category, Susie says, “most professional organizers will maintain a list of charities that are reputable so that the homeowner knows the items being donated will likely find a good home.” Susie maintains connections with a variety of charities, so she knows which items are the best fit at the best time for the appropriate charity.
Taking that first step to declutter is often the hardest. As a professional organizer, Susie’s initial approach is to walk through the entire home and assess the overall situation. She needs to know everything about the new location, too. For instance, if there is no garage in the new location, it makes the decision about what to do with all the stuff in the garage a lot easier. It takes great deal of planning to determine what will make the move from, for example, a two-story four-bedroom home, to 500 square feet of new living space.
Hiring a professional organizer
Most professional organizers charge by the hour and on a case-by-case basis – for small and large projects – and they will provide an estimate for the total job. Typically, this expert is more of a consultant and does not actually move the belongings. The organizer usually has a network of home service providers and moving companies who can help complete all the details of the move. The professional organizer will often work hand in hand with your Realtor® to get your home ready to sell and make the move as seamless as possible.
Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Realtors® have made an effort to learn about senior housing choices to help those who are 50+ with home selling, home buying, relocation, or refinancing their residential and investment properties. In fact, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has created a specific designation, the Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), which addresses this. Realtors who earn this special designation take classes about housing options, financial needs, estate planning and more to help seniors and their families with the financial and emotional challenges of selling the family home and moving on to the next chapter in their life.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.
Save the Date! Aging at Altitude Expo
Learning more about housing options and senior services is very easy here in Boulder. The next Aging at Altitude Expo hosted by the Daily Camera is rapidly approaching. It will be held at the Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave. in Boulder on Saturday, November 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A wealth of information and resources will be presented. Speakers will discuss topics including planning for senior living, senior health, financial and retirement planning, and staying active in your senior years. Visit DailyCamera.com/Aging for more information.