Getting your home ready for showings is difficult enough, but if you have small children in the home it can add additional complications. You may have reservations about putting your house on the market if your children are messy because of the amount of work it takes to keep a listing showing ready. Here are ways you can deal with small children and keep your home show-ready.
Prep Your Home
Like any other listing, you will need to focus on good staging. This means depersonalizing your home as much as possible – even with children. You need to start thinking about your home as a house – not as the place you live. A home holds memories, and personal mementos, and feels like a family living inside of it. A house on the market will be neutral, and ready to showcase to potential buyers that they could love living there. Think about the following options:
- Removing children’s photos and artwork.
- Clearing as much clutter out of the home as possible.
- Keeping the toys in one room or area – will make it easier to corral the kids’ stuff when a showing comes up.
- Neutralizing paint colors and decorations- even in children’s rooms.
Most buyers look for multi-purpose rooms they can tailor to fit their own lifestyle. If you have a room in your home—a game room, den or office—currently configured as a playroom, be sure to stage the area before you start showing the house to potential buyers.
- Remove any toys, video game systems or play sets from the room.
- Place common use furniture like a sofa or small desk in the room to help fill the space.
- Keep decorations to a minimum to highlight the size of the room.
- Clean any marker, paint or other stains from the flooring or walls. By creating a minimalist open space, buyers can picture their own belongings in the room.
Work with your listing agent to come up with a staging plan that will make your home appealing to as many buyers as possible.
Once You’re On the Market
It’s important to keep your house looking ready for showings as much as possible. While this may seem impossible with messy children, there are things you can do daily to make sure you’re ready for any showings that day:
- Do the dishes after every meal.
- Make the beds every morning and after naps.
- Clean messes immediately.
- Wipe out the shower and tub after you’ve used them – this will prevent soap scum.
- Get the kids and yourself dressed every morning- don’t linger in your pajamas in case of last-minute showings.
For every showing appointment make sure you do the following:
- Empty the trash cans – especially any diaper pails.
- Keep a bucket in every room that you can use to put items that have been left out – then put the buckets in your car trunk when you leave for the showing.
- Have a wax warmer you can turn on to safely fragrance your home – these are inexpensive and have some great fragrances that smell like baked goods, which many REALTORS® claim helps give the listing a homey smell.
- Turn on all the lights – this is a good job for older children.
- Consider having showing-only materials like bath mats and towels. This way they look fresh and inviting.
What Happens if You Can’t Leave the House?
If your REALTOR® calls you for a showing, but your child is napping, you can wait until the potential buyers come before leaving the house. Many people think they need to leave the house for hours at a time, but you can try to arrange a tighter showing window. See if the buyer’s agent could call before they are on the way. If you can’t arrange that, and if the weather permits, you could take the kids on a walk around the block or even out in the backyard once the potential buyers arrive.