Hubs and I have decided it’s time for us to consider a new home. Well…more than consider. It’s time for us to get a house that fits our little family better than the one we’ve got. But in order to do that, we had to do a ton of stuff to get our house up to snuff and maximize our return. We’ve spent the past few weeks tiling, carpeting, decluttering and cleaning everything to a sparkle. And that’s no small feat with three kids and a dog in the house.
Home “staging” is designed to help potential buyers subtract the “you” from the house so they can imagine themselves living there. But kids are kids, so how do you subtract the “living” from your home while you’re still living there?
As we enter the “sale” stage, we’re trying figure out how to be smart about keeping the house clean when we have sticky fingers, paw prints and dog hair to deal with. So how do you survive the nightmare of preparing for sale when you have kids?
- Start Packing: before the home staging starts, realize that you’re going to be moving anyway so it doesn’t hurt to get a head start on packing. Get rid of all those things that as Marie Kondo (the declutter queen) says “don’t bring you joy” by selling or donating them. Get a storage unit and forget about them until it’s time to move.
- Be Smart About Storage: you’ll have a ton of bits and bobs that need to disappear for showing. Our agent has insisted that we have nothing on the counter to show off the new tiles and countertops that means our toaster and our Kuerig need to disappear every time we leave the house. Obviously we can’t go without those items for any length of time, so we decluttered/packed a few cupboards in the kitchen and made a big space to throw those things when we leave the house. The kids also have some attractive boxes in their closets where we can stash their things quickly.
- Skip the Stovetop: we’re lucky because it’s summer, so instead of spending every night getting takeout, we can just use our barbecue for everything. I’ve even got a few casseroles stocked that I can put into the barbecue. And (BONUS) with this great weather, we can even eat outside – which means we can actually hose down the patio after we eat (as we’d pretty much need to do if we ate in the kitchen with the kids and wanted to keep it “staged” clean).
- Do Dishes and Laundry Every Day: you can’t leave a load of dishes in the sink when you’ve got potential buyers coming through. Make sure to clean up each and every day, full load or not. And then make sure that those things are folded and put away when they’re done.
- Designate a “Living” Area: kids will be kids, and they’ll make messes whether you want them to or not. Designate an area of the house where they can relax and have fun, and make sure that they know where to put their toys when they’re done with them. We have a space for the kids to relax in the basement, and storage so they can put their things away when they’re done. That way the nicely staged living room stays tidy. We’ve also limited ourselves to sharing one bathroom for the duration. While we’re still using the master toilet, the one bathroom is used for toothbrushing, showers and baths, so we have just one bathroom to clean up.
Preparing for a sale can be overwhelming for even a person without kids. Add all the extra elements in the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t have a plan. But with a few adjustments and a lot of luck, hopefully you can get through it without too much stress.