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How Do We Define “Home Clean-Out”?

By Mary Holmes

One of the services offered by Integrated Move Management is Home or Estate Clean-Out. This may mean different things to different people. It is also defined in a variety of ways by companies providing this service. So perhaps it is a good idea to clarify our definition. We tend to use the terms Home Clean-Out and Estate Clean-Out interchangeably. Traditionally, Estate Clean-Out happens after the homeowner has passed away and all possessions need to be removed so the home can be put on the real estate market for sale. Quite often, though, we are charged with cleaning out a home after a senior has downsized and moved to a retirement community – with the same goal of getting the house ready for sale.

How We Do It - When we work on a home clean-out, we efficiently sort through each room to make determinations of what should happen to each item: whether that means it will stay with the family, be sold in some manner (to be discussed below), donated to a charity, or recycled/thrown away. The family is involved at different levels depending on what they feel is best. For example, some families are comfortable with us sorting without them being present. In this case, we will put aside any items we have a question on, e.g. family photos, valuable items, cash, keys, jewelry or items that seem sentimental. Other families want to be more closely involved during the sorting process and work side by side with us. Both scenarios can work well.

Although we are very efficient with the sorting process, we also have a good sense of what might be valuable and what might need to be reviewed by the family. We have had great success when we are asked by a family to find certain items they would like to keep, as well as coming across expensive or sentimental items that the family didn’t know existed.

Items of Value - If a client has valuable possessions that they would like to sell, we have a variety of outlets depending on the item and value. For possessions that may have a high value, we typically start with a dealer or auctioneer that works with high end items. In this case, these items will either be purchased outright or taken on consignment until the auction date. If there is a wide variety of mid-range items, an appropriate auctioneer may be the right solution. There are also companies that will pay a small amount for the contents of your home. The advantage of this method is that they will bring the manpower to take the items. The disadvantage is that you will receive pennies on the dollar for your possessions. Utilizing one of the many consignment stores in the area may also work – for furniture, household items and clothing. An estate/tag sale is a possibility – although a lot of factors need to be in place for it to be a successful solution. For example, there must be onsite parking, a variety of items in different price ranges, and an appropriate geographic location. Another solution is utilizing online sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Yard Sales. An example of an item that would be appropriate for this outlet is an expensive household item, e.g. Dyson Vacuum, KitchenAid Mixer, etc.

Great Example - I recently had a client in Brunswick, ME who called and asked me if I could help her set up an indoor yard sale (what we would call a tag sale). I first visited her home to see what types of items she wanted to sell. She had been a world traveler and she had so many interesting items – I knew immediately that a tag sale was not an appropriate way to go (she would not receive close to the value of these items). We first called in a high end auctioneer that only takes items over $1,000 (he took about 10 items) and then we called in a mid-level auctioneer with a large on-line presence since she had many interesting international items.

At The End of Day - At the end of the project, we ensure that the house is completely empty and broom swept. We either have charitable organizations pick up donations or we deliver them to the organization and we remove all recycling and trash.

I love the expression, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. We meet with each client and come up with an individualized solution depending on their wishes and goals, as well as what types of items are in the home. Unlike removal companies who charge a fee to remove everything from the property or estate liquidation companies that will only run an onsite or online sale – we have many tools in our toolbox and customize a solution for each client. Please Contact Us for more information.

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