Caring for kids and keeping a clean house can be hard. Caring for kids and keeping your house show-ready when trying to sell can seem even harder. We are here to tell you (and give you some tips along the way!) that it is possible and not quite as bad as you may think.
In fact, 32% of all sellers in 2019 had at least one child living in the home. The good news is, there are many things you can do to prepare that will make last-minute showings less stressful for you and your family.
The first thing you’ll want to do when getting ready to list your home is to declutter, deep clean, and depersonalize your home. Decluttering your home will make it much easier to do a quick clean-up before showings.
Take a good look around every room of your house- if there is anything that you don’t want to keep, go ahead and donate/throw it away now. Not only will it make your house easier to clean, but it will save you from spending time and effort on moving items that you don’t want to keep anyways. For items that you must keep, consider putting them in storage in your garage, attic, or a storage unit.
Toys are another story. If your kids are anything like mine, they will not be happy if you start going through their toys to get rid of them. That McDonald’s toy under the couch you haven’t seen in 3 years will suddenly become their new favorite toy that they MUST keep.
There are a couple ways to help with this issue. Some people will choose to not have their children present for the toy pack-up, but that may lead to a meltdown later on when they can’t find the toy they are looking for.
Another way to deal with this issue is to let your kids help! Have them choose a few of their favorite toys to keep, and then let them help you pack the rest up. Consider putting larger toys (dollhouses, racetracks, etc) in storage. Make sure your children know that the packed-up toys will be waiting for them at their new house! Check out these great tips on decluttering toys from Realtor.com.
After decluttering and packing up toys, try to consolidate toys to one or two tidy areas in the house, such as a playroom or the kids’ bedrooms. This area should be kept tidy, but that does not mean you have to ban playtime.
One way to help keep the kids’ area tidy is to try and prevent messes before they happen. Consider packing up art supplies like paint, markers, and play-dough.
You can invest in some nice-looking baskets or bins for the toys, to make cleaning up after playtime easier. Pick containers that will add style to your space, instead of distracting from it (Ex: Don’t pick a hot pink bin with Minnie Mouse on it.) You can even label the containers (with words or pictures depending on the age of your children) that way they can help with cleaning up.
DEPERSONALIZING, CLEANING, AND STAGING
You will want to depersonalize and stage your home as best as you can. This is because in 2019, eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home, and they may have a hard time doing that with pictures of your precious babies everywhere.
It’s also wise to depersonalize for your children’s safety, as your listing photos will be on multiple websites. Some tips for depersonalizing and decluttering:
- Clear off end tables, tops of dressers, countertops, etc.
- Take pictures, report cards, etc off of your fridge.
- Take down posters, family photos, etc
- Consider painting neutral colors if, for example, your child’s room is painted lime green.
After decluttering and organizing your home, it’s time to deep clean like you’ve never cleaned before. The cleaner you can get it now, the easier upkeep will be while your home is listed. Take a look at your floors- if carpets are dingy, it may be a good idea to go ahead and replace them. You may also want to consider painting.
PREPARING FOR SHOWINGS
More often than not, you will have a short notice to prepare for showings and get out of the house. There are some steps you can take beforehand that will make this process much easier.
First, it’s wise to keep a daily cleaning list if you don’t already. For example, if you work, make sure the dishes are moved from the sink to the dishwasher before you leave in the morning. It’s also wise to keep a short list of quick things to do right before a showing with items on it like “spray febreeze, close all toilet lids, open all windows, turn on all lights, etc.”
Another way you can prepare is by setting up “showing bags” for everyone in the house. If you have young children or babies, it’s often hard to run out of the house on a short notice. However, if you already have all the items you would need in a bag, you can just grab the kids and go!
One tip is to keep an empty laundry basket handy that you can throw last-minute clutter into, and then put into your trunk when you leave for the showing.
Be open and communicate with your realtor regarding showings. If you know you’ll need a two hour notice, then ask them to note that to other realtors. Also, if you know you and your family are gone all day on Saturdays, let your realtor know so they can encourage showings or hold an open house on that day.
SELL YOUR HOUSE!
Although preparation can help make the situation less stressful, it’s important to realize that selling your house when you have kids can be hard, but it’s not impossible. The most important piece of advice to know is: Don’t stress, stay positive, and stick to your plan.
Remember, you aren’t alone in this endeavor. In 2019, twenty-three percent of sellers with children in the home under the age of 18 years sold their home very urgently, compared to only 14 percent of sellers with no children at home. You can do this!