By Carolyn B. Dun

Early in my marriage, my husband and I moved with our young family four times: from Chicago to St. Louis, St. Louis to Orlando, Orlando to Dallas, and Dallas to Chicago. The moves were always work-related and it was exciting to find a new house and discover a new city.

Our favorite city has been Chicago. We have been here for 16 years in the same lovely house by a park. But, since our children are grown and living in other cities, my husband and I decided it was time for another move.

What I learned from listing our house is this – I should have pretended to list my house every year! The house has never been more organized, neat, inspected, and updated!

Here are the main benefits for doing a “mock move” once a year.

A Mock Move:

  1. Forces you to edit.

    My real estate agent said it is best to remove books and some home accessories to get really good pictures of our home. I am not a collector, or doodad person, but there were still some items on desks, tabletops, and kitchen counters that I could remove. I loved the clean look the came from removing items! Every surface looked bigger and had a more of a “zen” feel.

  2. Inspires you to get rid of clutter.

    As I went through closets, drawers, basement shelves, and garage shelves, I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated. And this is from a family that donates items twice a year to the Salvation Army. The key difference with this purge was the question I asked myself, “Do I want to pay to move this to the next house?” That question helped me to be less emotional and more dispassionate about some of our stuff, particularly old sports equipment, books, kitchen items, and inherited items that we were not using. I also realized that we had similar items stored in multiple places, which meant we had duplicates (caulk, grout repair, outlet covers, bug killer). Duplicates are a waste, so getting things organized will help us be more careful with future purchases.

  3. Requires you to service appliances.

    I had the furnace and air conditioner serviced and I had the gutters and chimney cleaned. We also power washed the house and repaired some minor wood damage to our soffits. I thought I was pretty good about home maintenance, but I had skipped a year on the furnace and air conditioner service. Regularly servicing appliances keeps them running more efficiently, and gives them a longer life, which saves money. Also, preventative care can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. I realized that if I examined my house as if I was putting it on the market, and I would be more on top of our maintenance.

  4. Motivates you to make your bed every day.

    When you may have a last-minute showing, you have to have your house ready. That means making the bed, with the designer pillows on it, every day. It also includes keeping the kitchen and rest of the house picked up. I also updated a few light fixtures and freshly painted a few rooms that looked a bit dated. Keeping the house “show ready” made me realize what a nice house we have! This might be a little over-the- top to do every day, but is worth doing every once in a while to keep your house feeling like a show house.

In short, implementing a “mock move” every year would help me keep the good habits and practices of a real move in place. It means I can enjoy the benefits of an edited, uncluttered, updated, and serviced home, all of the time. In addition, these habits can save money, which is another bonus.