As Seen In Royal LePage's Real Estate News & Views, Volume 5 Issue 1

You weighed your options, spoke with a real estate agent and made a decision – it was time to downsize! Now that you've found the perfect new residence, what are you going to do with all the possessions that you've accumulated over the years?

Your first instinct may be to not part with any of your belongings. After all, each item may hold a special meaning for you and your family. However, if you're moving from a four-bedroom home to a two-bedroom condominium, some of your possessions will have to go! And because moving can be a hectic and emotional experience, you can simplify the process by planning well in advance what items to keep, sell or give away.

The first step to downsizing is to walk around every room in your home and take inventory of your belongings. Try photographing your major items and organizing the photos into categories (i.e. lamps, bedside tables, area rugs) to create a quick and accurate reference guide. Who knows, you may come across a few "finds" that have been hiding in a closet or attic corner! Once you've taken stock, you'll be able to decide what items you wish to bring to your new home, give to your family, place in a garage sale or donate to charity.

To help you determine what will move with you, consider whether the dimensions of your new residence will accommodate your furniture, especially larger pieces such as beds, a china cabinet or your piano. After all, you'll want your new home to be as comfortable and familiar as your current one. Ask yourself if each item will serve a useful purpose. Consider drawing a floor plan of each room to give you an idea of where to place your furniture. If you find that you still have too many items, put the plans aside for a few days and then review them again. With a fresh perspective, you may find a "must keep" object from last week no longer fits the bill.

Now that you've decided what to bring with you, ask your family to look over the remaining items. You never know what may be of special interest to them. For Instance, that old couch in the basement might be a wonderful addition to your grandchild's first apartment. Invite your family over to select their favorite pieces. Make the task easier by showcasing your items. Try grouping the smaller pieces, such as books and china on tables and larger pieces along an empty wall.

Now that your family has made their selections, why not consider holding a garage sale to sell any remaining items? Because of your earlier organization, all that's left for you to do is price the items and put up the signs! You can make it a social event by asking your friends and neighbors to help with the sale – and you'll even make some extra money. Remember, one person's unwanted possession is another person's valued treasure!

If you prefer not to have a garage sale, consider donating your extra furniture to a worthy cause. Charitable organizations appreciate contributions and it's a terrific way to achieve your downsizing goals while supporting your community.

Above all, keep in mind that this is an exciting time! You're about to start another stage in your life. You have a new residence to decorate and organize. With some pre-planning, the transition of downsizing your home can be manageable and enjoyable experience.