We last sold a house 19 years ago. It was a down market, but we were moving for a job so we followed our realtor's advice on repainting the exterior and doing a bit of staging. It was a charming house in a desirable location and sold before the sign went up for more than we hoped to get.
Wish we had kept it as a rental because it is now worth at least 3 times as much being in the hot Los Angeles market that we are moving back to and I would love to be able to just move back into it! But we didn't.
We do however have our current house to put up for sale on April 1st. The general location is desirable but the house is old and buyers here generally prefer brand new ones. Right now it is a seller's market for this neighborhood, but still some older homes languish on the market and who knows what next Spring's market will be.
We own this house so it is one of our major assets and we want to get as much for it as we can to help finance post-retirement living in a much more expensive housing market for our hopefully long lives.
Since we know we are moving upon my husband's retirement we have the luxury of time to prepare the house and not make try to do everything in the month before the sign goes up. That also lets us make unhurried decisions about what we will move across the country (the list is shrinking LOL).
Like many people, we put effort into making this house our home. That means the colors, furnishings and amount of stuff works for us. It doesn't necessarily work for potential buyers.
My SIL who lives in the NE told me earlier this week about a friend of hers who is agonizing over whether or not to buy a particular house and being that they live in a tight housing market there aren't a lot of choices. The sticking point seemed to be the amount of repainting that would have to be done to neutralize the all the colorful rooms - rose red, shades of green, etc.
So back to taking our realtor's advice along with much of the stager's advice. Buyers in our market want neutral colors so they can visualize their furniture fitting into the house. They want move in ready homes even if they end up changing the house before they move in LOL. They want space and light, but our house is a 1941 style of smaller rooms and not an open floor plan. They have trouble visualizing their stuff and lifestyle in a house filled with another person's stuff and lifestyle.
We picked our realtor because the people in our area who follow her advice sell their houses fairly quickly for a decent price regardless of market conditions. We will be paying a lot of commission for her advice, experience and effort so we are listening to her. I am also taking the reasoning behind the stager's advice and customizing it to what we own and how we need to live in the next 10 months before the For Sale sign goes up and while the house is on the market.
I am hoping that by preparing about a room a month that when the For Sale sign goes up we can put our energy into finding a rental in our new location and the logistics of the actual move!
So time, effort and money are being spent now decluttering, depersonalizing, making sure the paint is a neutral color, and trying not to buy much to freshen the house decor that we don't want to take with us. The house won't feel like us or reflect our personalities much by the time we are done, but hopefully it will sell quickly for a good price.
In the meantime my husband goes to work, we do all the routine yard and home maintenance, go on vacation/visit family, entertain, go out, have house guests, play with the dog, read, volunteer, exercise, and generally live our lives.
Although I am writing about the process of downsizing and moving in your mid-sixties it is not consuming our daily life and I hope to keep it that way except for the actual move and getting settled at the other end of this journey!