Real estate agents know firsthand how emotional moving is for their clients. So, when their clients also decide to downsize to a smaller space, moving stresses are amplified.

  • Downsizing is an emotional process; agents should provide solutions to find compromises and help their clients work in steps to optimize their downsizing efforts.

Real estate agents know firsthand how emotional moving is for their clients. So, when their clients also decide to downsize to a smaller space, moving stresses are amplified.

Whether downsizing is welcome news for your clients or not, they will need your guidance during the move. Here are some steps you can follow to help your clients optimize their downsizing process.

Step 1: Redefine their needs

When you have a client who is downsizing, this should be your mantra: Compromising on space does not mean compromising on the future.

Downsizers need to ponder how they will create more joy in their lives with less furniture. Experienced agents know how strong the emotional attachment to objects can be, so you should help your clients tune into what features of their old home they want to keep instead of what objects they want to take.

Discuss what elements of their current space are most important to them. This can be done either room-by-room or in a general sense.

A smaller space will only define what physically fits in their home and not what makes it feel like one.

For example, having a large living room may feel like a necessity, but in reality, your client may only need a dedicated space to unwind.

MoSCoW method

MoSCoW stands for “must have, should have, could have and won’t have.”

Encourage your clients to make a list of what must come with them on their move and what simply won’t fit into their new home.

Scrutinize this list with your clients, or ask couples to each make separate lists and collaborate to condense them.

Remind them that downsizing is a compromise, and though there will be some sacrifices, it will be worth it!

The replacement test

Another approach to identifying your clients’ most important items is the replacement test.

Pose the scenario of leaving everything behind from their old home, and ask your clients what they would have to replace.

A great follow-up question for any item they would replace but still wouldn’t fit into their new home is: Can it be replaced with a smaller or more practical version?

Dividing the essentials based on needs instead of wants will help your clients create a functional living space instead of a stripped down version of their old home.

Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Step 2: Think creatively about their space

There is a lot to be learned from the tiny house movement in terms of making compromises about what’s on display and what’s in storage.

Here are some tips for clients looking to make more with less space:

  • Reserve kitchen counter space for frequently-used appliances, and keep the rest easily accessible.
  • Prioritize the activities they’d like to do more often. If you love to read, create a reading nook situated near a window or table that can double as workspace.
  • Invest in space-saving tools such as magnetic knife racks, hanging pots and pans, countertop cutting boards, shelving and drawer organizers.
  • Choose furniture that serves multiple purposes such as ottomans with storage, beds with drawers underneath, tabletop storage carts, vertical plant holders, space-saving spice racks and hooks for hanging brooms and mops on the back of closet doors.
  • Use creative storage like under-the-bed bins, shoe organizers and hanging closet shelves.
  • Look for the opportunity to customize unused spaces like creating storage under staircases, building recessed pantries or installing hanging bike storage.
  • Create comfortable outdoor spaces on patios or decks.

Segen / Shutterstock

Step 3: Help them put less in the moving truck

You are a great resource for your clients when you play “the realist” and help alleviate the stress of downsizing. Ultimately, decisions will need to be made about what to keep, what to toss and how to make things fit into a new space — and the moving truck — in creative ways.

To help prevent overpacking, live by the phrase “measure twice, move once.”

When your clients have a sense of how much they need to get rid of to fit into their new home, the purging process can begin.

Here are some quick ideas for clients who are ready to shed some extra moving weight.

  • Give books new life by donating them to schools or libraries.
  • Invite friends and family over for an apartment giveaway. Mark the items you’re ready to give away with sticky notes.
  • Hold a tag sale to sell the items the family doesn’t want.
  • Sell any remaining items on Craigslist, Facebook, letgo or eBay.
  • Recycle or donate furniture and clothing to Goodwill or a local clothing drive.
  • Put overflow items into storage.
  • Donate non-perishable pantry items to Move For Hunger through your moving company.

Ralf Broskvar / Shutterstock

Step 4: Show them downsizing is an investment

The element of downsizing that most agents often overlook is what your clients can gain from the process. Downsizing is an opportunity for your clients to reimagine the way they live.

Clients gain a feeling of mobility that comes from letting go of old possessions, they regain time that was once spent on the upkeep of a larger home, and they save money in the process.

Agents know when downsizing is the best move for their clients, and their mission should be to help them see the light.

Downsizing can happen at many different phases of a client’s life.

From couples moving to an apartment in a city, to empty nesters ready to consolidate their lives and prepare for their next chapter.

To accommodate the needs of every homeowner, these downsizing steps can help facilitate a stress-free move for your clients.

Jenna Weinerman is the marketing director for Updater. Follow her on Twitter.

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