As a mom myself, I know what a chore it can be to sell a home when you have kids. When my family decided to move, our home literally hit the market the day our son was born! With a two-year-old and a newborn, to say keeping our home show-ready was a challenge is an understatement. Well, challenge accepted! Our home sold for asking price in just two weeks. How did I do it?
To get you ready for what you’re in for, and maybe make life a little easier, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things to do so you don’t completely lose your mind. Preparedness and organization are key, so here we go….
1. Give yourself at least a full week to de-clutter your home before you take house photos. More if your home is large or you just have a lot of clutter. Go room-to-room tackling one or two rooms per day. Dispose of clothes that don’t fit, toys that aren’t played with, broken furniture, and anything you will not want moved to your new home. Nap time or times when another adult is around to keep your kids occupied while you take care of business certainly helps. Expect to take several trips to Goodwill unless you have a truck!
2. Get a Storage Facility. I know what you’re thinking, “But, I just de-cluttered and got rid of so much stuff!” True, but I’m sure you kept a lot of personal or sentimental items that, while they mean a lot to you, distract from the features of your home. You want potential buyers looking at your crown molding, not your child’s cute baby pictures or push-toys! You need to stage your home for everyone, not just people with kids. So, rent a storage facility and put away anything that isn’t absolutely essential or doesn’t add to the beauty and simplicity of your home. That means all but one or two stuffed animals, train tables, and most toys. I promise, your kids will survive living simply for a little while. Just keep a few things around that are special to them.
3. Prep the kids’ bedrooms. Because not everyone has children, kids’ rooms can sometimes be a hard sell to buyers – especially if they are painted bright colors. To get the rooms ready to show, paint them a neutral paint color. Get rid of any child-themed light fixtures or switchplates. Store the majority of your children’s toys and stuffed animals. Buyers need to be able to see a room that will fit their needs. A few kid items are fine, but if the buyer plans on making it an office, they probably aren’t interested in the jungle-themed mural or princess fan-pull.
4. Just before your house photos are scheduled to be taken, have a friend or family member take the kids somewhere fun for the day. This will give you an opportunity to give your home a really good scrub-down. Clean all the appliances, baseboards, fans, etc. Get your home show-ready. If you’re financially able, having a maid come by to help isn’t a bad idea either. Your REALTOR® should be able to recommend someone who can help clean for a showing.
5. Take excellent photos while it looks great! Now that your house is show-ready, having a professional photographer take beautiful photos of your home is key to getting it sold fast. Ask that your REALTOR® have a professional real estate photographer take the photos if they haven’t already scheduled one. If they are taking cell phone pictures for the listing, that is a huge red flag! Also, don’t forget to clear away any leftover clutter for the photos. Put kitchen appliances away, clear away toiletries from the bathrooms, and turn on all the lights.
6. Make a checklist of all the things you will do when you get a showing notification. When you get that notification, the countdown begins! If you have a checklist, you’re less likely to be distracted by a kid and forget something. Follow it to the letter every time, and you’ll have peace of mind that the house is ready. There is a sample of a great checklist on our Pinterest page here. Make sure you save mopping for last, so you don’t have to re-mop over little footprints!
7. Each morning after breakfast, make the beds, do the dishes, and and wipe down all the counters. Then, make certain spaces off limits. By corralling the kids into one area of the house, it leaves less mess you need to worry about if you get a call for a showing. With younger kids that may mean baby gates and locked doors. Just don’t forget to add “unlock doors” and “put away baby gates” to your showing checklist!
8. Keep a few large, empty storage totes handy. They will be your new best friend. Why? Because sometimes naps, meals, or something else may come up turning your one-hour showing notice into ten minutes of real prep time! An empty tote means a place to stash dirty dishes, clothes, toys, or whatever is lying around fast. Drag the tote through the house, and fill it with whatever needs to be stashed away. Then, stack the totes neatly in your garage and ta-da! Show ready. If you don’t have a garage, you can put the totes in the trunk of your car and just take them with you!
9. Choose what you will let the kids help with. While you may want the children to feel involved in the move, let’s be honest. For most kids, getting help tidying up is like pulling teeth. Moving is already stressful, so choose your battles wisely. To keep yourself sane (if your children are the responsible type) have them be in charge of keeping their rooms tidy. Make it a requirement, so they get no TV, no toys, and no playing outside until their room is tidy and their bed is made in the morning. When you get the call for a showing, plop the kids in front of the TV while you make the rounds tidying up. While it may not win me “Parent of the Year” to advise that you sit your kids in front of the boob tube, at this point in your life screen time is not a problem – it’s survival!
10. Make a list of a few options for where to go with the kids when there are showings. If you’re lucky you won’t really need it for long. However, sometimes homes can take a while to sell. It’s nice to have a few choices ready when the need arises. Where to go? How about the park, library, kid-friendly coffee shop or restaurant, grocery shopping, a friend’s house, or even just taking a walk around the neighborhood. This is a good opportunity to run any errands you may have, as well. Might as well kill two birds with one stone and pick up the dry-cleaning or take the kids for a haircut.
So, there you have it. I won’t pretend it will be fun, but I can tell you it will be totally worth it! Getting settled into your new home will be fantastic, and unpacking all the toys the kids haven’t seen in a while will be like Christmas morning!
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments what you did to maintain your sanity while moving with kids.