Prepping and maintaining your home for sale, especially when you have kids, can be an extremely stressful and nearly impossible task. Every day is a battle to keep the house tidy and days with scheduled showings are the most difficult. As a home owner who recently sold my house with two kids (4 and 2), I can attest to the difficulty of prepping for showings while kids run around dumping toys and spilling juice on the freshly mopped floor.
If you decide to brave the road of selling your home when you have kids, here are some tips to reduce the insanity.
- Declutter – Prior to putting your home on the market, spend time going through each room and deciding what needs to go. Now is the time to get rid of older toys and outgrown clothes. It might take ten trips to Goodwill but use this as an opportunity to purge. My son tends to gather random items (rocks, rope, feathers, craft projects, etc.) in his room. Unfortunately (for him), this stuff has to go.
- Store the bigger stuff – Now that you are down to the toys that your kids actually play with and that you won’t mind hauling to your new home, it’s time to whittle it down further. Decide what toys will get used most often and store the larger items (push toys, lego tables, pop up tents, etc.). This stuff is more difficult to deal with when you have a showing scheduled in less than an hour.
- Stage kids’ spaces for pictures – If you have a great kids’ play space or have worked hard to decorate bedrooms, show it off for the pictures. Potential families will enjoy seeing how you used the space. Do not try to keep the initial photo staging (like setting a tea party for the stuffed animals) perfect for each showing. You will go insane.
- Keep storage totes or bins on hand – Before a showing, the bins can be loaded quickly with small toys and stuffed animals and stored in a closet, the garage, or the back of the car (see #6!).
- Have a pre-showing checklist – Have a checklist of all the areas of the house that need to be checked prior to leaving house (toilet lids down, floors vacuumed, diaper pail emptied, beds made, etc.) This reduces the chance that you will miss something in those hectic moments before running out the door. I’ve learned that kids tend to forget to flush after using the bathroom; having a checklist eliminates any “surprises” for potential buyers.
- Keep the back of your car empty – The back of your car is a great place to toss any last minute clutter when you’ve run out of time. When we sold our home, the back of our car contained anything from dirty laundry to the dog.
- Occupy the kids – We all know how difficult it is when the kids are making a mess faster than you can clean! Set aside screen time for the hour before showings so you can clean without interruption. Purchase special toys, activity books, and games that are only brought out while you are getting the house ready for a showing. Bring them out in a limited space, such as the dining room table, and leave that space as the last area cleaned.
- Snacks and a plan – Showings are commonly scheduled during mealtimes, so having snacks on hand to ward off hunger induced crabbiness, while you’re stuck out of your house, is crucial. Don’t bust your new home budget eating out during every showing! Have a plan of easy places to go with the kids. We had a spare key to my in-laws’ house and would often go hang-out there. Head to a park or indoor play space or just walk around the mall. Have your grocery list saved on your phone and use this time to run errands.
- Have the kids help clean up! -Take as long as you need to laugh at this.
- OR…..Sell your home with Nate Lansing and Selling with Kids and make your life easier! – As part of the marketing of your home, my team comes out before each showing to complete any light cleaning and get the house “show ready”, at no cost. All you have to do is get the family ready and head out of your house! For more info click HERE.