home inventory planning to downsize

As you prepare to review, assess and sort all of the belongings you’ve acquired over the past 30 or 40 years, one thing becomes clear:  You’ll need a way to manage all the information. A home inventory of your belongings can be a critical tool for a successful home transition, and save time and effort in the future. 

What is a Home Inventory?

An inventory is a catalog of someone’s physical property, digital assets, and critical documents that are financially, sentimentally, and/or legally valuable to an individual, their family, and/or their business.  Many types of inventories may be taken, each with a particular goal in mind: 

  • Quick Room Views” inventory that identify everything visible in a home.  
  • Specific Assets, like collections, collectibles, and Vehicle inventories that include supporting documentation.  
  • Digital Asset inventories that keep track of all online accounts, including how to gain access to them.
  • Critical Document inventories such as wills, healthcare directives, deeds to homes, birth certificates, and other legal documents. 
  • Moving Inventories, downsizing inventories, storage inventories, 
  • And more, including business inventories, divorce inventories, before/after inventories, etc.

Each type of inventory has critical information that you’ll need if you want to be able to quickly find something important should you ever have any type of loss, be it due to weather, theft, damage, divorce, illness, or death.  An inventory will also ensure that nothing “falls through the cracks”.

The Benefits of Having a Home Inventory

When surveyed, over 60% of people say they don’t have enough assets to worry about having an inventory.  The general attitude seems to be that if something bad happens, they will deal with it then.  Sadly, bad things DO happen, and the job of dispersing and accounting for those belongings often falls to someone who has no idea about the existence, location, or value of any belongings. Even a rudimentary inventory of belongings can save hundreds of hours during the transfer of an estate. 

How to Accomplish a Home Inventory

A family tragedy led entrepreneur Carol Kaufman to dedicate her professional life to home inventories: “I’m the person that got the phone call no one ever wants to get.  A car accident killed my mom and left my dad with a traumatic brain injury that took away his executive-level skills.  I spent 14 years caring for him and then over 5 years trying to settle his estate. Now, I make it easy for people to create inventories, so no one will ever have to go through what I did.”

Over the years, Carol has helped thousands of individuals and families inventory their households and belongings through Pinventory, an online tool for home and business inventories, and her inventory support site  All Things Inventory Academy. 

Carol offers downsizers advice for both written and photographic Do-It-Yourself home inventories:

DIY Home Inventory: Written

Carol advises that at the minimum, a handwritten or spreadsheet inventory can be extremely useful.  She recommends that your records include:

  • An in-depth description of the items. For example, rather than writing down “diamond ring,” be more descriptive, such as: “an emerald cut diamond ring, with white gold shank, accent stones and initials inscribed below the bridge.”
  • Make, model, and/or serial number of the items.
  • Date of purchase, receipts and photos.
  • Estimated replacement cost if you bought it today. Do note that the value of the items might be different today than it was when you first bought them. This is especially true with jewelry, and other valuables.
  • Appraisals at time of purchase, especially if your items were appraised for insurance purposes.

DIY Home Inventory: Photo

At the bare minimum, a roll of photos showing everything that is currently in your home will be helpful, without requiring a huge time commitment.  Carol recommends a Quick Room View inventory for starters; it’s the fastest, easiest way to document everything that is visible in a home.  The goal is to take anywhere between 7 and 20 photos of the following, in the following order: 

  • A full room view of the room
  • The left wall, front wall, right wall, back wall, floor, and then ceiling, in that order.
  • The inside of any closet in the room
  • The inside of any cabinet that has something valuable in it
  • The inside of any drawer that has something valuable in it.

Carol advises not to move or stage anything for your photos, just take the photos, in the same order, room by room.

Use an Online Tool to Create Detailed, Permanent Records

Just like any other big job, there are services and products out there to simplify your task. 

Using an online software like Pinventory, Carol’s home and business inventory platform, you can create much more detailed records in a short amount of time.  Online records allow you to:

  • See, sort, and distribute all of your belongings, all from your computer or tablet.
  • Go back and add more details or notes as you go along, and find them easily.
  • Easily share with people who are helping you downsize your belongings.
  • Show Move managers, packers, and movers where each of your items should go (your next home, a family member, charity, etc.)
  • Keep the permanent record of valuable items, including where they are stored or where they were sent.

Embrace New Technology Tools for Home Inventories

For some, a trusty yellow pad will do the trick.  While pen and paper may be a comfortable method for you, we’d like you to consider these benefits of an online system:

  • You can see, sort, and distribute all of your belongings, from your computer or tablet.
  • You can go back and add more details or notes as you go along, and find them easily.
  • Your measurements and notes can be easily shared with people who are helping you downsize your belongings.
  • Move managers, packers, and movers can quickly determine where each of your items should go (your next home, a family member, charity, etc.)
  • Your inventory becomes a permanent record of valuable items, including where they are stored or where they were sent.

Online home inventory and move management tools can greatly increase the efficiency and accuracy of your note-taking.  Get in touch today to learn more about our preferred online systems and recommendations for qualified help in your area.

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