Time to De-Clutter? Some Tips for Selling Your Stuff
If you are looking around your home and thinking to yourself that it’s time to de-clutter, the summer months provide an ideal time to hold a garage sale. But if that sounds like too big of an undertaking, there are other options available to you thanks to popular resale sites like eBay and Craigslist. And if even that sounds like too much effort, you might also consider donating lightly used items to charity or sending them off to the dump. Here are some questions to help you decide which method is best for you.
How much stuff do you have? Are you liquidating your space of large furniture items, a large quantity or quality items, or do you have a small pile of electronics?
If you have yards worth of stuff to get rid of, you definitely want to consider a garage sale. Getting rid of multiple items on Craig’s list can be time consuming, and shipping items sold on eBay can be expensive and eat into your profits. On the other hand, if your items are easily shippable or you have a small enough quantity to take quality photos and post online, then you can save time by using eBay or Craig’s list – and potentially make more money too.
What type of stuff am I getting rid of? Is it worth anything?
If you have large furniture or unique/valuable pieces it may be worth the time to take some quality photos and try to sell these items on Craigslist first. Generally Craigslist works as “first come, first serve” so be prepared to respond to inquiries quickly. If you have small items that have some value, you may want to consider eBay. You reach a much larger audience through eBay which can result in a greater financial return.
How much time do I have?
Garage/yard sales are by far the most time intensive of your options. If you choose to hold a garage sale, you will likely need to dedicate at least three days for prep, clean-up, and the sale itself. All items should be cleaned up, priced, and neatly displayed for sale. Signage should be prominently placed around your neighborhood. You can also place an ad in your local classifieds or on Craigslist to attract a larger crowd.
Will your home/community accommodate a Garage Sale?
Garage and yard sales are generally held at a single-family residence. If you live in an apartment or condo, you may want to consider alternatives due to limited public space. You may also want to consider your community traffic. If you live on a quiet street, you may not get enough customers to generate sales.
Can you enhance a sale by joining with neighbors, friends and family?
Some communities hold an annual neighborhood garage sale, encouraging all neighbors to participate on the same day. This increases your ability to market the event and attract a larger audience.
Want more information on hosting a garage sale? Go here.
12 Sanity Savers to Get You Through Your Home Remodel
It’s easy to get excited about a home project at the beginning, when the work seems theoretical and you hear yourself saying things like, “Oh, we could just knock all of these walls out, no problem!” Then reality sets in. The workers you hired go AWOL, your budget is blown and you can’t find your good shoes under the pile of scrap wood and duct tape. It’s time to take a deep breath and make a plan. Read on to find a dozen ways to stay sane while you are creating your dream home, no matter how long it takes.
Sanity Saver 1: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
1. Have a plan A … and a plan B and C too. Even when you set what seem like perfectly reasonable goals, things have a way of coming up unexpectedly to bump your project completion date further and further back. Having a back-up plan (or two) is key.
I find it helps immensely to think of your goal in three parts. There is the ideal goal — if everything went right and there were no snafus, this is what you would want done by a certain date. Then there is your plan B, where you pare down your list to the essentials. To make a plan C, pick just one thing that if you got done would still make you feel somewhat accomplished.
Sanity Saver 2: Soorikian Architecture, original photo on Houzz
2. Take “before” photos. In fact, take lots of photos throughout the process. When you feel motivation beginning to falter, take a look at pictures from early on in the process to remind yourself just how far you have come.
Sanity Saver 3: Young House Love, original photo on Houzz
3. Start a blog. Just like many diet and exercise programs recommend sharing your plans with supportive friends and family members, I advocate starting a blog as a way of holding yourself accountable during the renovation process. After a rough day, when nothing went as planned, at least you can vent your frustrations in a blog post and get kind words of support in return from readers all over the world.
They did it: Sherry and John started their blog Young House Love while they were fixing up their first home, and it became a wildly popular and award-winning site that attracts many visitors each day. Realistically, most of us won’t become the next Young House Love, but starting a blog can still be a worthwhile project and documentation of your home progress.
4. Focus on making it livable first. This may sound obvious, but it is all too easy at the beginning of a project to take on too much. By saving some of the cosmetic changes (like decorative tilework) for later and choosing to focus on essentials (like plumbing) now, you will make your life much easier.
Sanity Saver 4: Richard Bubnowski Design LLC, original photo on Houzz
5. Schedule your renovation in stages. During an extensive renovation, be smart about the order you work on things if you are staying in the house at the same time. Work to finish bedrooms and a bathroom first, so you can have a comfortable area to live in while other changes are going on.
6. Set one small, attainable goal each week. Tasks like putting up new house numbers, ordering something you need online, or patching holes in a wall do not take very long, yet being able to cross something off your list — and see visible improvement— will help keep you motivated.
Sanity Saver 5: Holly Marder, original photo on Houzz
7. Help the pros by doing your job: Be decisive. Yes, contractors, architects and designers can sometimes go beyond the original schedule, but each time you change your mind or put off key decisions, know that the process will take that much longer. The best thing you can do to speed progress is to maintain a clear vision of what you want and communicate it clearly to all of those involved in the project.
8. Stay busy during downtime. It is inevitable that there will be times it seems that nothing is happening. Whether due to a tight budget, workers vanishing midproject or simply a stretch of bad weather, it is important to keep your spirits up when work stalls out.
Try keeping a list of simple tasks that you can do anytime. Then, when you start feeling antsy, pull out your list and get to work. Cleaning, organizing, decluttering and doing small repairs are all good places to start.
Sanity Saver 6: decordemon, original photo on Houzz
9. Pitch in and do some work yourself. Even if you’ve hired pros to do the bulk of your renovation, consider taking on a small DIY project of your own. Using your own hands to pitch in and improve your home can be incredibly satisfying.
10. Make your bedroom a refuge. Even if outside your door is quite literally a disaster area, having a calm, relaxing spot to rest and recharge can do wonders for your spirit.
Sanity Saver 7: Mykonos Panormos Villas, original photo on Houzz
11. Use your outdoor space. If the weather is good and your project is taking place indoors, setting up a comfortable outdoor living space is a wonderful way to get away from the noise and chaos of the renovation. I’ve heard of people setting up full outdoor kitchens to use while the indoor kitchen is being remodeled, and I think it’s a wonderful idea.
12. Remind yourself why you are doing this … Clicking through your inspiration photos is a great way to get juiced up about your project all over again. You can also try simply closing your eyes and visualizing your home project completed, vividly imagining every little detail, and how wonderful it will feel to have it all done.
… and know when to get out of town. Of course there are times when it’s best to admit it’s time for a break. When the entire house in in utter disarray, taking a spontaneous weekend getaway can be just what the doctor ordered.
By Laura Gaskill, Houzz
I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year.
- There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016.
- With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County.
- The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained.
- With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.
- Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County.
- It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter dropped by 16 days when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
- King County remained the tightest market, with the average time to sell a home at just 31 days. Island County was the only area where it took longer to sell a home than seen a year ago; however, the increase was just one day.
- In the first quarter of the year, it took an average of 70 days to sell a home. This is down from the 86 days it took in the first quarter of 2016, but up from the 64 days it took in the final quarter of last year.
- Given woefully low levels of inventory in all Western Washington markets, I do not expect to see the length of time that it takes to sell a home rising in 2017. In fact, it is likely that it will continue to drop.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. The rapid increase in mortgage rates during the fourth quarter of 2016 has slowed and buyers are clearly out in force.
What keeps Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, up at night? Housing affordability. As the U.S. Population moves towards both coasts and the Southwest, putting upward pressure on land prices and the value of homes, we will see a greater cost of living, which could directly impact the work force and economies in those areas. Gardner weighs in on how West Coast cities can improve housing affordability through policy and infrastructure changes.
Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new traditions, but sometimes the situation calls for it – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have a family now and want to start traditions of your own. So what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?
- Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.
While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.
- Take time for yourself before time with family.
As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.
- Remember loved ones who have passed.
Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. Look through old photo albums and recall funny, tender or important achievements of those who are gone but not forgotten.
- Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.
Cover the table with butcher paper. During the meal, distribute pens and ask each family member to write down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper and then take turns reading them out loud. We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.
- Let everyone toast!
Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!
- Have the kids serve dessert.
Let the bigger kids get in on the action of serving to their family. Put them in charge of delivering dessert and coffee after the meal. The oldest can plate and pour while the younger kids can take orders and serve. It keeps them busy after the meal while the adults talk and gives them a broader sense of appreciation for the holiday.
- Have Thanksgiving dinner early.
Planning for a 3 p.m. dinner shifts the momentum of the day. An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed. An earlier dinner also accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.
- Take a long walk together after dinner.
No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the cool, crispy (and hopefully dry) autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.
- If it’s just two of you, really treat yourself.
It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Make it special by treating yourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than you would normally use if you were cooking for a large group.
- Stay connected with family members far away.
If you can’t be with your loved ones on Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call or Google Hangout before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening.
We had two service projects going on that day–one was for a family whose daughter has a terminal illness, and six of our agents went over and worked on their yard and planted flowers. The rest of us worked on landscaping for the new Historical Society building (boy, is that going to be a beautiful gathering place!).
The year was 1989, and I was just about to learn the meaning of the word “boom.”
We’d met one afternoon with a real estate agent who advised us that if we wanted to sell our Silver Lake home, we needed to paint the living room, re-stain the deck, and put fresh bark over the flower beds. She forbade me to stencil any more walls and left with a promise to add us to the MLS first thing in the morning.
We ordered the bark to be delivered the next day, ran to the store for paint, and came home to tackle the list. First up: painting the living room. While Dave went to the garage for a drop cloth, I opened the first can of whitely-white, whitey-white-white paint … and promptly spilled the entire contents on our dark rust carpet.
Want to know the formula for getting white paint out of rust carpet? All you need is two hours + two frantic sellers with scrub brushes + about two bathtubs-worth of the hottest, soapiest water you can get your hands on. It’s that simple.
When we were done, you couldn’t tell there’d ever been a spill. (This would be a good spot to tell you about a more recent incident in which I dumped an entire bucket of white paint on my head while moving a ladder, but that will have to wait for another column.)
We ran back to the store for more paint … which Dave forbade me to touch … and I watched while he painted the room. And even though I detest white paint on principle (who doesn’t like color?), I had to admit that the room felt bigger, fresher and calmer with that simple layering of white paint. Standing in our living room late that night, I wished we had done it much sooner, and I wondered how long I might enjoy our new room before someone bought our house and took that enjoyment for themselves.
Apparently, not long. Our house hit the market at 10:00 the next morning and by noon, five buyers and their agents were standing in our yard and driveway (next to the just-delivered bark we hadn’t had time to spread), and two of them were writing up offers on the hoods of their cars. Thus, my introduction to the real estate boom of 1989.
If you’re considering selling your home in 2015, my suggestion is this: make those repairs sooner rather than later so you get a chance to enjoy them yourself.
You probably have a good list going in your head. There’s the burned out light bulb in the pantry. There’s that one window with the big ding where your son threw an errant poker chip two summers ago. (Not that I have firsthand experience or anything.) There’s the door knob that jiggles, and the rickety cupboard door, and the missing hardware on a kitchen drawer. Those things are driving you crazy, aren’t they? You’d never sell your house with those little irritants in place, because if they annoy you, they’ll annoy your buyers. I recently took some clients to an otherwise lovely home which unfortunately had a kitchen full of barely-clinging cupboard doors. The husband opened one door (and they all open doors, just so you know), felt the wiggle, and proceeded to test each and every cupboard door. He and I are still talking about those cupboard doors.
Maybe your list includes more substantial items, like replacing the garage door or laying new carpet. (Actually, how about if we go with hardwood? Most buyers love hardwood.)
There’s no good reason why you shouldn’t have a little time with the new window and the fresh paint and the fixed cupboard doors before someone else owns them. So do yourself a favor and tackle the list one item at a time. At the very least, you’ll be in a great position to sell when the time comes.
And who knows? With all those problems gone and a facelift in place, you may just fall in love with your home all over again and decide to keep it for yourself.
The experts tell us that in human interactions, two people meeting for the first time size one another up and form an opinion of each other in the first seven seconds. In just that short span of time, each determines if the other is a friend or a foe; someone to approach or someone to avoid.
Apparently, we take home-buying much more seriously. Because upon pulling up to a house for the first time, buyers take a whole EIGHT seconds to determine if they’re going to get out of the car or drive on by.
What does this mean for you as a seller? It means a couple of things. First, in anticipation of all those “internet drive-by” buyers, it’s vital that you use professional photos in your MLS listing, and that the photos taken show your home at its best. As a real estate broker myself, I can tell you that when I’m searching homes for my clients, I know within the first few clicks of the mouse if I’m going to send the listing. If the pictures are unappealing, or if they indicate a complete detachment to the whole house-selling process (think: overflowing garbage bins, curtains half-hanging on windows, a sink full of dirty dishes, stained carpets, or as I saw recently, a half-empty bottle of whiskey and a shot glass), I stop clicking and move on to the next listing. Remember: you only have eight seconds to make a good impression.
Beyond the MLS photos, sellers have to address actual, physical curb appeal. What does a buyer see when he or she pulls up in front of your house? Would their first glimpse be enticing, and cause them to want to see more?
The subject of curb appeal always brings to mind one particular home that I drive by every time I’m visiting my friend in New Jersey. She and her husband live in a beautiful 200-year old home in the countryside. The road to their property runs along fence-lined pastures and grazing horses and charming old barns. But just before you reach their home, on one final curve in the road, you come suddenly upon a bizarre sight. For reasons known only to God and this homeowner, the entire front yard is surrounded by a border of dozens and dozens of bowling balls of every color under the sun—orange balls, and purple and and pink balls, and blue balls with sparkly metallic flecks, and rust and cream balls with Jupiter-esque swirls. Each is perched on what looks like a gigantic golf tee, and something about the arrangement makes me think of enormous push-pins sunk in the earth.
It is NOT attractive. And if you offered me a million dollars, I couldn’t describe the house to you, because I’ve never been able to look at anything but those odd lawn ornaments. Someone really should have been loving enough to say, “No, Bert, I do not think we should edge the front yard with bowling balls.”
Of course, you would never do such a thing. But how is your front door looking? Does it need repainting, or replacing? Is the lawn healthy, or is it full of moss? Could the garden beds use a fresh topping of bark? Did you have time last fall to cut back all the spent blooms and branches? Wouldn’t a little color look nice along the walkway?
Enhancing your curb appeal doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming endeavor. Start with the most obvious tasks and work down from there. A little touch-up here, a little clipping and trimming and tidying-up there can make a big difference. In fact, it can make all the difference in whether a would-be buyer lingers … or they dash.
I met a friend at a restaurant in Edmonds last week, and of course, the conversation eventually turned to real estate. Over our lunch of chicken pot pies, Cathy said, “We’re thinking of downsizing, but how do you know when it’s the right time?”
That’s a good question. And it’s one I hear often as people wrestle out loud with the desire to simplify versus the desire to hang on to the house in which they’ve raised children and/or created great memories. Sometimes circumstances dictate a move, but other times it’s just a matter of logic and good planning.
Below are a few of the best reasons to make that choice.
You know it’s time to downsize your home when …
—The kids are gone, and it doesn’t look like they’re coming back. You had to have all those bedrooms when you were raising them, and it’s possible they needed those rooms long after they thought they’d be out of the house and on their own, but if your nest is empty now (and you’re relatively sure it will stay empty), you no longer need all those bedrooms. Why pay higher taxes and spend more money on utilities for square footage you’re using only for storage?
— You need better accessibility. While the suburbs are great places to raise families, it’s more convenient for seniors to be in a neighborhood with dining, shopping, social amenities, transportation options and medical services close by. If you want those conveniences close at hand, downsizing to a smaller home in town or a well-situated retirement community is a good choice.
— There’s more house to clean than energy to get it done. It’s one thing to keep a big house tidy when you really need every square foot of it, but why spend all day tending to a house that is much bigger than you need? It comes down to time and energy. Would you rather clean a 2000 square foot house, or a 1000 square foot house?
— You’re overwhelmed by outside chores. I can’t say we’re quite there yet, but I do see a day coming when the thought of chopping and stacking four cords of winter wood will lose its luster for my husband. Nor will it always be fun to spend one day a week mowing the lawn. Come to think of it, I’ve just about given up on staying ahead of the weeds in my kitchen garden, vegetable garden and walkway. There will come a point where we decide that we’d rather use that time and energy elsewhere. Just as a smaller house means less housework, a smaller yard (or no yard at all) means less yardwork—and more time for other interests.
— You decide to live simpler. While on a five-week tour of Europe several years ago, I learned how freeing it was to make due with only the contents of one small suitcase and one backpack. Packing was easier. Dressing was easier. Laundry was easier. Keeping our hotel room tidy was easier.
Possessions have a way of complicating our lives, and if we’re not careful, our “stuff” soon owns us. When you free yourself from the need to accumulate and possess, you give yourself the gift of time, money, and choice. You don’t have to have a big house; you and your simpler life can easily move to a smaller house with a smaller mortgage (or no mortgage at all).
— You want more financial freedom. If you’ve been in your current location for a while and you know your home’s value has appreciated significantly, cashing in now can be a smart move. You may have enough equity to pay cash for a smaller home. At the very least, you’re likely to have a much smaller mortgage and pay less in taxes, insurance and utilities. That means more money for traveling, entertaining, golfing, or whatever else interests you.
Downsizing has the potential to reduce your stress, free up your calendar, fill up your wallet and simplify your life. Which makes downsizing yet another great example of “less” truly being “more.”