Preparing to sell a house involves pain, both physical and psychological.
We are in the process of de-cluttering, organizing, and purging the house where we have lived for 25 years in preparation to list it next month.
Real estate agents and home stagers are ruthless in their evaluation of what to remove or add to make each room attractive to buyers. Needless to say, all begins with thorough cleaning of floors, carpets, walls, doors, and mirrors. Paint touch ups may be advised.
Books and bookshelves of any type seem to be a particular anathema. During a recent house tour I was surprised not to see one book, magazine, newspaper nor any other reading material in a very large home. There wasn’t even a coffee table or art book in sight!
In the kitchen, small appliances, fruit bowls, and canisters should not clutter the counters. The stove and refrigerator should be spotless. Bathrooms need to sparkle with fresh fluffy towels; no soaps or shampoos in sinks or shower stalls; no hair brushes, toothbrushes, tissues, mirrors, make-up containers, or other personal items in evidence. Closets need to be tidy and preferably emptied of most of their contents.
With two months of purging, cleaning, organizing, and de-cluttering behind us, it’s clear that we underestimated the work required to prepare our house for the market. We also underestimated the amount of ‘stuff’ we had accumulated since moving here 25 years ago.
There’s been heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively. Cleaning up the basement and getting rid of our junk has consumed us for almost two months.
More than 50 boxes of books have been removed from the basement and from my husband’s den. There are still several bookcases to clear including those in my writing room. A good amount of self-discipline plus thoughtful investment of time is required to achieve my goal of ‘some’ purging every day!
Packing boxes, lifting them up and down staircases, dragging them to the curb for give-away or into the back of my car for a trip to the re-cycling depot takes stamina.
I’ve joked that my new best friends are two people who work at the local donation centre. They are happy to unload bags of clothes, boxes of excess sports equipment, boxes of used kitchen supplies, and, yes, extra book cases. Hopefully, a charity will sell these items.
The psychological pain comes from the emotions each of us experience as we remember events during the years in this house.
This house has been ‘home’ with all the associated baggage. Family events, parties, accomplishments, disappointments and sad times mix together in memories that represent a long chapter of our lives.
Achieving an amount of psychological detachment and dealing with the resultant emotional pain takes time. We are removing personal items to make the house look less lived-in, yet warm and inviting. Packing the photos, diplomas, cherished moments sparks many discussions of what various pieces mean to each of us.
These discussions, with both laughter and tears, have helped the process of letting go. We’ve also needed this time to process feelings, and, to deal with the pain of separation from our home.
As these two months have passed, our thoughts are changing. Increasingly, we speak of our ‘house’ rather than our ‘home’. Perhaps we are slowly putting it into a mental compartment labelled ‘past’.
Like other aspects of life that have finished, this house will hold a special place in our memory banks. Just as with a decision like retirement, it’s time to focus on our vision of a future in a new home where we will create new memories, make new friends, and find new adventures.