Home Downsizing Checklist: 5 Steps to Downsize Your Home

When it comes to retirement, downsizing your home can make life so much easier. Whether it’s for accessibility reasons, to reduce home management responsibilities, or simply to make a bit of extra money, moving into a smaller residence is a logical step.

We at My Total Move appreciate that this can be a stressful and emotional journey. To help make things easier, we’ve put together this home downsizing checklist. Moving through these steps in order should help to make the downsizing process much smoother.

Home Downsizing Checklist

1. Make a plan

The first step on a home downsizing checklist should be to make a plan. Doing so will help with smaller decisions in the future.

For example, you’ll need to think about:

  • Where will you go next
  • What furniture to take and what to sell
  • What appliances you might need in your next home
  • Repairs needed to sell your current property
  • Listing and selling your home

This is also the order in which you should tackle these jobs.

2. Sorting furniture and belongings

Next, start sorting out things you want to take from things you want to sell. Doing this early will make the repair and improvement jobs much easier, as you won’t have to move as much stuff around.

Decide what you want to sell or donate, and what you want to pass down to family members. 

An estate sale is the easiest way to shift large pieces of furniture and belongings, and the money will come in handy for hiring contractors for other tasks later on. 

This can obviously be a very difficult stage in the home downsizing checklist. If things have sentimental value, it can be stressful deciding what to do with them. When you find this happening, move onto something else and come back to it.

Some useful tips for this stage include:

  • Try going room by room, as you can then focus your efforts better.
  • Give yourself a few days per room just to make things easier.
  • Dedicate a single room or area in your house for all your “for sale” items to keep them separate from your “keep” items. This will help you overall organization as you start packing.
  • If possible, get some help. A second opinion makes a big difference when trying to sort your belongings.

3. Repairing and improving your home

It might seem counter-intuitive to improve a home you’re selling, but it actually makes perfect sense. Investing a bit of extra money now can have a big impact on the eventual sale price.

Repairs should be your main priority. Make sure things like lights, roofing and HVAC systems are all in good working order. Any of these can be used as negotiating points by the buyer’s side.

Then, switch focus to aesthetics. A fresh coat of paint can transform a room, particularly if it was a bold color or featured potentially dated wallpaper. Doing this is simple buying psychology – buyers can better visualize themselves in a neutral space.

If this process seems too overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, consider reaching out to a senior real estate specialist who can help you with repairs, improvements, and listing your home for sale. 

4. List your home for sale

Listing a property is obviously an important step in the home downsizing checklist. Providing you’ve focused on repairs, it should now be ready to stage, photograph, and list. 

During this stage, you should probably start looking for your new residence, if you haven’t already. As part of this, you’ll need to call moving companies to get some prices.

Some will offer different prices depending on whether you’re staying in-state or moving out. Call at least 3 companies to get a set of prices before making a decision.

5. Sell your home

The final step is to sell your home and move out. It might have been decades since you last went through this process, and a lot has changed since then. However, the basic steps remain the same:

Your realtor will manage the legalities surrounding your home sale, then you’ll need to pack, schedule a moving company, do a last-time full-house clean, and off you go!

Of course, you’ll need to take care of important paperwork too, such as:

  • Informing insurance companies about your move.
  • Updating your address with the US Postal Service and any ongoing mail subscriptions.
  • Getting prescriptions refilled in preparation.
  • Organizing pets and their vet care (if you have any).

This last stage is a very emotional one, understandably so. Moving out of your family home is challenging, and isn’t a decision many take lightly. If possible, try to have your family with you during the moving process. Also, an understanding, compassionate senior real estate professional makes a surprising difference during this stage.

Hopefully, by now you have a new, more accommodating residence lined up. Getting started in a new place is very exciting, so look for the positives in the situation!


This home downsizing checklist should help you to visualize and plan your move in the best possible way. After all, it can be a very stressful process.

But, if all these tasks sound like too much, My Total Move is available to help. We are a one-stop shop for coordinating a successful home downsize, real estate sale and move. My Total Move is a team of senior real estate professionals who can provide contractors to help organize your belongings, arrange repairs, and, importantly, sell your home as you transition into a new residence. 

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you to downsize your home.

Download the Checklist

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My Total Move is a team of Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES) in Michigan helping aging adults and their families find suitable destinations for their next stage in life. We are experts in what it takes to help older adults downsize their homes, sell their property and transition to a more accomodating residence. 

If you need help planning your move and selling your home, give us a call.