Prepping your home for sale and showings while you're still living in it certainly isn't easy. Prepping and keeping your home ready for sale and showings while you're still living in it and have kids, presents its own unique sets of challenges. There's toys, naptimes, and other home-with-kids’ topics to consider. Your goal in prepping and showing your home is the same as home sellers without children; to attract the widest range of buyers possible. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you get ready to put the "For Sale" sign in the front yard (after moving the kids' bikes out of the driveway, of course).
Like all home sellers, at the top of the list of things-to-do is to "declutter". Decluttering allows the buyer to see how much space your home truly has, and with less of your "stuff" in the way, it's easier for a buyer to see "their stuff" taking its place. With kids, it’s a whole new level of play. The Biggy is toys: stuffed animals, kid "equipment", etc. In getting ready to sell, pick out a few of their favorites, and put the rest away in totes or in storage. Remember your garage and backyard, too. While it could be a perk to show a play scape in the backyard, a play scape with every bike, ball, skateboard and bat that the kids own laying in the yard is distracting to a potential buyer. The good news is when you sell the house and bring all the toys back out in your next house? It will feel like they are all "new" to the kids who haven't seen them in a while.
While you and your kids may think that her "Pepto pink" bedroom walls, or the baby's room with baby zoo animal decals, or his race car room, is awesome, those features won't be attractive to all buyers. Remove kid decals and repaint rooms to a neutral color. In your new house, you can personalize the kids' bedrooms again. All that a potential buyer will see, especially if they don't have kids, is "another room to redo".
Depersonalize as much as you possibly can. That means removing family photos from the shelves and walls (and filling in the holes with wall putty and repainting), and taking down the kids' drawings from the refrigerator.
Have a playroom? Start by removing toys (see above), and putting away video game consoles. Show the rooms versatility by adding a small desk and chair or sofa creating a minimalist open space that attracts a broader range of buyers.
When you have a request to show, or the real estate agent is holding an open house? Don't be there. Yes, even if it's naptime. The buyers and their agent will want to be able to view the home without anyone else being present so they feel comfortable looking around. Ideally you would have a 24-hour time frame, though that may not be the case if buyers are out and about with their agent and want to see your house sooner. You want to capture as many buyers and showings of your house as possible, so be ready. Get the kids in the habit of helping by having them make their beds every morning and picking up their toys every evening. Create a to-do list for yourself that might include a quick wipe down of the bathroom and the kitchen right before a showing. Remember to empty the garbage, including the diaper genie if you have one. Nothing's worse than walking through a showing with a buyer than smelling dirty diapers when you open the front door.
Selling with kids isn't easy. There are often additional topics to consider that may be overlooked while you're living-amongst-the-kid-stuff. Your objective in prepping your home for sale or showings is to attract the broadest range of buyers, so that you can move one to your new house sooner. And then? Grab the paintbrush. Your daughter has already requested a Pretty Purple for her new room in the new house.
Melissa Rolland is a licensed Connecticut realtor. She lives in Tolland, along with her husband Todd, a licensed broker. Together they manage the Rolland Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty. You can connect with them at www.RollandRealtyGroup.com.