• Mariah Cope

How to start preparing for a downsizing sale

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Happy 2020!

If this new decade is your year to downsize, we want to give you some pointers to make the job easier... But you know what isn't easy? Moving.

It can often feel like a one-way ticket to being stressed, overwhelmed, emotional and left spinning in circles wondering where to begin. It's even harder when you're preparing to leave possessions you've carried with you for so long behind.

While we can't take away the stress of starting over, Tobacco Road Downsizing does try to ease the burden of moving by dealing with a major piece of the puzzle many clients are faced with. The excess.

We've got some tips to make preparing for a downsize and move easier. These steps are best used when you're 4 months or less from moving, as you don't want to pack items that you'll still need when you're living in your current home.


The first step is getting yourself onboard. Then, getting anyone that you live with on board as well... Husbands, wives, kids. It's important that you have discussions about what your goal is at the end. If it's living more simply, with less "stuff", make sure everyone agrees and that you can work together.


The next step is taking the time to go through items. If they're personal items, it's fine to do this on your own. If they're family collected items, take the time to go through them and make sure that everyone is collectively OK with parting with them.

When going through items, start with the areas of your home that are less used. Make a list of all of the rooms in your home. Then rank them most to least used.

While it's tempting to start with the most used.... we actually suggest you start with the least used spaces as disrupting them won't make you feel you're living in someone else's space when you start packing items.

Our typical experience makes us guess that your least used spaces probably includes your guest bedroom, the attic, the office (assuming no one is working from home out of there), holiday decor, the garage (again, assuming no one is working from home out of there) and your dining room. Most families have these rooms but don't use them as much as the kitchen, the living room, and the bedrooms.

Once you've got your list, it's time to dig in.



If you're hoping to have a downsizing sale, you won't want to pack the items you're planning to part with, but rather the items you want to keep. The more unpacking Tobacco Road Downsizing has to do, the greater the chance commission will go up. What this means is that as your sorting in these lesser-used spaces, leave the items you want to part with where they are, and just pack the items you're planning to keep.

Starting in the room you ranked "least used" with an empty box or tub and packing paper, you can sort through items and do the shuffle. This gives you an opportunity to see what you have, decide whether it's important enough to move to your new space and say goodbye to the "stuff" you collected over the years that you don't need anymore.

Many clients have created a calendar where they tackle a room a week in this fashion.

Week 1: Son's bathroom and attic.

Week 2: Back porch.

Week 3: Front Room.

As you're going through, you can text pictures to kids of items that were theirs and see if they want to keep them. You can slowly decide over items that *might* be worth keeping. On larger items, we recommend using painters tape or heavy-duty Post-It notes, either visibly, or underneath the pieces to denote whether you're keeping them and they need to be moved. Labeling is your friend. You don't want to have to open boxes multiple times to remember what's inside.

Just remember that for items that are in boxes (holiday decor, etc.), to keep them segregated between items you will keep and items you're selling as you finish sorting. It's much easier to tell your movers, "Only take what's on the left side of the attic to the moving truck", than to have movers go through the boxes trying to understand your labeling.

Not everything can be boxed months before moving. So you can do the shuffle between cabinets or on shelves as to what is to go with you and what you're OK with selling.


If you're hoping to have a tag sale, avoid donating and boxing up items you don't want to keep. Even items like office supplies and clothing that you no longer wear can be sold. If you've got 50 items that are worth $1 each, they can still sell and will add to the bottom line of your sale.

The goal here is to make this as easy as possible. You shouldn't have to box stuff up, lug it to the attic and then have someone else (your downsizing company) unpack it 2 months later. You also shouldn't have to carry bags out to your car, drive to the donation store and leave money on the table.


If you're on the fence about throwing something away, you can always email us or text us a picture and ask whether it's worth keeping. In general, personal paperwork that's no longer necessary to keep, items that are broken beyond repair, stained or ripped clothing and things like old cassette tapes or VHS tapes are trash. But if you think someone, somewhere might be interested in loving it again, keep it where it is. If we decide it's not sellable, we can handle the trash removal.


Morgan and Mariah's dad was a contractor. So they heard this saying many times growing up. Furniture is often the hardest thing to decide whether to keep early on in the process because often clients don't know exactly where they're going to land and how big the rooms will be in their new home.

That's ok! Tackle the small items first. They often take the most time to sort through.

If you find a new home that doesn't have as large of a guest room, you might have to purchase a trendy new sleeper sofa and part with the bed and matching dressers while being able to find a spot for the end table that was in your guest room. This goes for sofas (maybe you have 2 and can only keep one...), dining room suites and your kitchen table (maybe you can only keep either the dining table or the table in the kitchen...).

Little items can easily be moved and find a new space in your new home, while furniture is very dependant on the spaces that you land in. With large items, it's important that you see the space they're going into, measure the space and make sure that they will fit. Twice. This will save you the cost and disappointment of moving them to find out that they won't fit.


Our consultations are free, so we can come at any time. It is best however to call when you're at least halfway (or more!) through the sorting phase. If there's still a lot of big-ticket items that you're not sure whether to keep or not, it's hard for us to give a concrete "Yes. This is enough for a downsizing sale!" answer.

We typically recommend that you call us when you're about a month from moving and you have about 85% - 90% certainty what you're going to keep and what you're going to sell. This way we're able to make a fair assessment, discuss multiple scenarios of timelines and advertise with plenty of notice.

Our calendar is typically booked about a month in advance, so you want to give yourself time to make it onto the calendar.

Already have an offer on your house and you just found out about us? Don't panic! Give us a call and we can typically make it within a day to two to walk through with you. We have the staff capabilities of running 2 -3 sales in one weekend if the sale needs to happen soon! But to avoid unnecessary stress, we encourage people to plan ahead.


In the last month before the move, you'll want to start packing those items you plan to keep from your most-used rooms. This isn't to say you can't have made some decisions about what you'll keep and what you'll sell prior, but typically those rooms are the ones where you will keep most of the items or you won't want to disrupt your living environment.

You'll still need to eat and cook in your current home, so that's why we encourage people to pack those kitchen items they'll keep until last. You can, however, shuffle items within those spaces prior so that you know all bottom cabinets are items that you're selling and all items in the top cabinets are to keep. This makes it easier for you, your movers and your downsizing sale company to know exactly what to expect.

We hope this helps! If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to us and we're happy to come by and point you in the right direction or offer guidance over the phone.

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