I was asked this question point blank by a couple of parents, who we’ll call “Mr. & Mrs. C.” I suspect they were mulling a move since they have a third baby on the way. This is actually a very typical “should I stay or should I go” scenario. Does one stick it out in cramped quarters until after the baby is born or do you make a run for it and try to sell (and buy) before the new arrival. Can this be done? Yes. Countless families do so every year. Those families, if they are prepared, find this scenario to be manageable by taking certain steps. Simply read on and find out how!
Going directly to the “experts” seemed like a great idea with this one, so I asked moms who have actually been through it to give their tips and advice. After all, I’m a guy so there’s noooooo way I could understand, right?
Amy L. (Collegeville): “We hired house cleaners to do the deep cleaning every 2 weeks which made it a lot easier to keep up with the clutter. We did a major declutter and made sure baby toys weren’t everywhere when we showed the house. We tried not to deter showings, but we did request at least 2 hours notice. I was working from home so it was easier to be flexible. Another thing we did was make it a point to go out as a family while we were trying to sell. It really helped us from messing up the house.”
Amy A. (Horsham): “When we sold our house in Abington, the kids were 7, 5, and 3. One trick I used is to have a laundry basket handy. There were times when the realtor wanted to show the house on a moment’s notice and I had a sink full of dishes or small toys laying around. Throw everything in the basket and put it in your car! Just get it out. Since we were moving, we started packing up toys and clothes that we did not need. Cleared the basement of toys so the room looked bigger too.”
Alex L. (Malvern): “Assign designated areas where the kids can play so any mess they make is contained instead of scattered throughout the house. Encourage your realtor to schedule as many back to back showings as possible.”
Keri T. (Lansdale): “My advice would be to motivate your kids DAILY to keep rooms/common space exactly as they found it. I used a small daily allowance but you can use anything. They would actually compete and wait for the text message on who ‘made it’ that day.”
Jess H. (Hatfield): “We sold in a pretty desirable area so we made plans that first weekend we were on market and just left the house so it was free for showings. With two little ones, it’s best to simplify instead of having to come and go. As a working mom, I am strapped for time, but I was able to take one full day off prior to listing the home to organize, purge and clean. It looked staged at that point.”
- The Family Huddle – I don’t know about all of you, but I see my family as a team. Therefore, I would suggest there be a “family huddle” of sorts to make everyone aware of what will be required of them and to answer any questions. Selling a house can be confusing for children too, so the earlier they are brought into the process, the better. Making a game of it or placing a positive spin is always a good idea if they’re on the younger side.
- Use The Opportunity – There is no doubt, as Americans, we love our stuff. However, you should see this as an opportunity to really separate yourself from the things you don’t need. Be ambitious. Study after study shows that removing things from your house has mental benefits and selling a home is a perfect excuse.
- Reclaim Your Living Space – Even if you don’t get rid of anything and just reorganize, this is an ideal opportunity to reclaim your adult space in the home. A lot of people have quasi-living room/playroom setups in their main floor (myself included) and it won’t be an attractive way to show the home, so you might as well use the situation to reclaim what is rightfully yours! Of course, if the kiddos are on the younger side or if the home is small and there’s no other place for it (typical in a condo), a clear segregation between a kid area and your space is sufficient and usually understood by buyers.
- Communicate With Your Realtor – Make sure your realtor is on the same page and understands what is possible for showings. While typically, the owner (you) approve who comes and goes, your agent should have a clear understanding of your work situation & family schedules. Let your agent know if you’re going out of town too so they can try to drive showings to that time when you won’t be home.
- Don’t Overprice – Whether you have kids or not, an extended time on the market can be pretty frustrating. Speak with your Realtor about how to price your home so you are competitive with others in your area. To be clear, I am not recommending you underprice your home, but even in a seller’s market buyers are not willing to overpay. (And their lenders aren’t going to allow them to do it either)
Much like anything else, with a well-defined plan of attack, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals! I’m sure I missed a few, so if you have anything that worked well while selling your home, then please comment below. Also, a very sincere thanks to the moms who took the time to be contributors.
I would be happy to showcase your question in my next installment. Go ahead…Ask me anything! If I use your question, I will send you a gift card of your choice or donate money to a charity on your behalf.
Seth Lejeune – 610.804.2104 – firstname.lastname@example.org / Berkshire Hathaway – Fox & Roach
Seth is a licensed REALTOR and small business owner based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.