Cut the Clutter: Save Time, Money, and Stress by Making Space at Home

by Sarah King on January 25, 2023

While working remotely (or helping your kids learn from home), you have probably become more connected to your own home than ever before… for better or worse. In our family’s furniture business, we’ve noticed several trends over the past year. The added interest in desks, file cabinets, bookshelves, and workstations was predictable. What surprised us was the number of people who wanted to clean out a room, or even an entire house, but didn’t know how to begin. That’s when our phone lines started ringing and the email notifications started dinging. We’ve created this post to answer one of our most frequently asked questions: “How do I get rid of all this stuff?”

For anyone who’s ever moved, you’ll probably agree it’s not the most enjoyable family activity. Packing boxes during the early morning hours, in the evenings after work, or throughout your entire weekend can get old in a hurry, but it’s more than just that. Those towers of boxes sitting in your garage or the piles of items sitting around your living room/spare bedroom may be draining your mental energy! We often let the thought of having to do something weigh us down before we get started. So what do we do? Nothing… for a while anyway. Then the task gets so urgent that we must act, but by then it’s almost too much to handle alone. That’s not a good situation for anyone. It doesn’t do any favors for a marriage and sure doesn’t sound like a happy use of a Saturday for the kids or grandkids. Of all the situations we’ve witnessed in the last year, the following are two of the most common scenarios:

1. As a company with a Kentucky real estate broker and auctioneer on our team, we're happy to report the market is up from where we expected it to be and houses are still selling quickly. Many times, that means sellers are boxing up their personal items much sooner than in years past. That’s not such a bad problem to have, is it? The trouble comes when those sellers become buyers and start looking for their new home. If they moved out of a 1,000 sqft home and temporarily moved in with a family member or into a small apartment, that’s a lot of required storage space and it’s certainly not free! Why not sell some of those pieces that you’ve never really cared for or never really used? Your local auction house or consignment shop may buy those items from you, eliminating your need to pack or store them. If a small storage unit costs $50 per month and it takes you four months to find and close on a new home, that’s a minimum of $200 per unit just to keep the rain off your items. If the auction house or thrift store will buy them from you for $100, now you’re saving $200 and making $100. You’re $300 better off! What about the time you save buying boxes/tape, packing up and wrapping items, loading, unloading, and driving back and forth to the unit? Are we at $500 yet? I’m not suggesting that you sell a family heirloom just to avoid the temporary storage fee or having to buy a roll of packing tape, but I am encouraging you consider what items may not be of use to you any longer. Cash in on those and let someone else PAY YOU for them.

2. Here’s a more trying situation: a family member or friend passes away and you’re tasked with managing things after he/she is gone. None of us want to go into the home of someone we loved and start trying to place a value on the items or figure out how we’re going to keep all of them. That’s a very taxing process and it can take MONTHS if you have other responsibilities to balance. It’s hard if you do it alone and, arguably, even harder if you have to go through the process as family or friend group. Everyone has different opinions on what should go where and when. Everyone has a right to those strong opinions, but they often cause hard feelings that can linger long after the boxes are moved and the house is sold. If you knew there was a group you could call who would professionally and confidentially pay for the privilege of buying all the contents AND then clean the interior of the home before locking the door, would you be interested? Those businesses are out there. From California to Florida, companies exist to take the pain out of packing. I’ll admit, it may take a few phone calls to determine who’s a fly-by-night operation and who’s established with references, but it’s not impossible. Try to always contact at least three different companies and determine which one most closely shares your priorities and goals. What matters most to you? Total price you’ll receive, confidentiality, cleaning quality, speed of the move, or some combination? Ask all those questions of your candidates and then choose the best. This may save you thousands of dollars! Don’t believe me? Take a look at this example:

Some of the approximate costs of maintaining a vacant 3 bed-1 bath home in our rural KY area (these numbers are used solely for illustration):

Utilities (i.e. water, gas, sewer, trash, electric, phone/tv) – $200-$300 per month [conservatively]

Outside upkeep (i.e. snow or leaf removal, mowing, weeding the landscaping, trimming trees, etc.) – $60-$100 per month

Insurance and taxes – $200 per month

Other potential costs – mortgage interest, vacant home depreciation, aging appliances, unforeseen weather (floods, tornadoes, ice/snowstorms), vandalism, theft, and pest control

While these costs may start out manageable, they add up quickly when a house stays vacant for months and months. If you’re paying at least $500 per month for the cost of holding the house, what’s your total if it takes three to six months to move everything out? That’s $1,500 to $3,000. If it takes another two months to sell the property, you’ve now racked up $2,500-$4,000 just to hold it. What if instead someone came in and offered you a cash amount for all the contents and turned the house keys back over to you after 10 days of moving and cleaning? Could that save you a couple thousand dollars and a whole lot of stress? Only you can answer that. It’s different for everyone and largely depends on your overall goals. We’re sharing this in hopes it helps you or your family through a challenging time. We hear so many people say, “I had no idea something like this existed.”

We’re not trying to convince you of one path over another. We’re merely putting pen to paper to share these options with you, in hopes you’ll find them as helpful as our clients have over the past year. It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. We’ve bought out 3,000+ sqft homes with everything in them from used tools to new toilet paper. Last year, we even went a step further and bought the personal property PLUS the house! We’ve helped empty out basements, garages, sunrooms, and storage sheds. The most rewarding part has consistently been getting to meet with the family at our final inspection and hearing “You don’t know how much stress this has lifted off of us!” We aren’t the only company who provides this service, but we would love to be one of the ones you interview to see if we can meet your goals. You can also check your area for local auction houses, thrift stores, and consignment shops, or ask your local real estate agent. A real estate professional can be a great source for referrals! If you’re more of a do-it-yourself person when it comes to selling your items, try posting on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram, the local radio swap shop program, or set up a yard sale on a fair-weather day.

From our Southern Dot Furniture and Southern Dot Auction Spot family to yours, we wish you well on the move and/or the path to a de-cluttered home! 


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