Showing Your Home With Kids
Are you selling your house and have kids? To follow are suggestions shared by Morgan Hutchinson for Vogue magazine to keep a house “sparkling” while living in it.
1. Pay to Give Away
Before it can sparkle, it has to be sparse. For those of you with toddlers, you know the impossible task of getting them to throw away anything. To motivate our 4-year-old to clean out her overflowing toy bins, we actually paid her. I am sure this method will attract opposition, but honestly, paying her 50 cents for every item she selected to give away was the most time-efficient, tear-free option in our arsenal of parenting tricks. And, it totally worked! She added serious bank to her little piggy, and we cleared out boxes of old and under-played-with toys.
To rid our own closets of even more junk, we decided to “pay” ourselves. Through designer consignment shops and social media channels, we cleared our racks something fierce—I’m talking Container Store–level clean. Then, we took the proceeds of those sales and donated to charity. Talk about a win win.
2. Declare a Designated Junk Zone
With kids in the equation, there is only so much “junk” you can rid yourselves of. To save time (and your sanity), find a place in your home that can discreetly hold one or two large storage bins. For us, it’s an oddly deep coat closet. I store two stackable bins behind the long coats. Even if potential buyers check the closet, my secret stash remains a secret.
The key is to use the bins for last-minute cleanups. They should be reserved for hard-to-stow-away toys, those that get the most play, ugly (but snuggly and overused) blankets, half-read newspapers, piles of bills, and whatever else commonly lingers around the house.
If you find that a few bins don’t cut it, use your empty suitcases for overflow. In a pinch, you can roll those bags right out to your trunk to hide the evidence.
3. Manage Trash
This one might sound odd, but let’s get real: There is nothing more off-putting than the site of someone else’s dirty tissues or a wad of hair removed from a hairbrush. In a mad dash to get out of the house before potential buyers arrive, it’s easy to forget about the little waste bins throughout the house. To avoid this embarrassing oversight, stop using those cute little cans all together. Instead, take advantage of your stockpile of plastic grocery store bags. Hang a bag on the doors of heavily trafficked rooms—bedrooms, baths, and kitchens—so you can grab, toss, and go before a showing.
4. Groom Wisely
As a mama with Southern roots, I’m not shy about my love for aerosol hairspray. What I don’t love is the film it leaves behind after a full coif. To keep my vanity sparkling, I store a bottle of rubbing alcohol and microfiber towels close by to wipe up quickly. The alcohol cuts right through the sticky residue. It’s also great for makeup, lotion, and oil spills. I keep an old white towel on hand to cover my vanity when applying makeup; it catches all the loose powders and brush hairs and it’s easy to shove in a bottom drawer before the realtor shows up.
Additionally, I trained my troops to start using the same bathroom when possible to keep the others nice and neat. There is no need to dirty up two tubs or multiple sinks. My daughter now bathes and brushes her teeth in the master bath, which keeps hers void of toothpaste globs and ring around the tub. I also picked up a Beard Bib for my hubby to keep shaving messes at bay.
Bathrooms are the biggest time suck to clean—planning ahead makes a huge difference.
5. Follow the Five-Minute Clean Routine
When the realtor calls with two hours or less before a requested showing, it’s time to prioritize. If your kiddies are home, get them ready to bolt and then treat them to their favorite show (one you rarely let them watch is ideal). While they enjoy some out-of-the-ordinary screen time, set your iPhone timer and allow yourself five minutes per room. (This is a trick I learned from my mother.) It forces you to focus on the big stuff: dust bunnies, cluttered countertops, dirty dishes, a mess of the ugly toys, crooked art, an un-flushed toilet (something our little one constantly forgets), and anything that might distract a potential buyer from seeing the true beauty of your home. This is the time to carry around those empty storage bins and fill them with what I like to call “everyday life.”
When the buzzer goes off after five minutes, move on to the next room. It ensures you give each room its due time—then you can go back for a final walk-through.
6. Get a Jude’s Miracle Cloth
To make the five-minute clean routine even easier, pick up a Jude’s Miracle Cloth (only $7.50). It’s seriously miraculous—one cloth equals 22 rolls of paper towels! The secret is the weave of tiny fibers, which are 200 times finer than human hair and trap all the dirt without scratching your surfaces or creating more dust, like paper towels often do.
7. Take a Six-Week Sabbatical
When all else fails, take a break!
After two long months of all of the above, we decided it was time to hit the open road. So we are taking our kids on a cross-country adventure to see this wonderful country of ours. We’ll take in the sites (Grand Canyon, Marfa, Graceland, Mt. Rushmore), and visit family.
It’s certain not to be the most relaxing six weeks of our adult lives, but it will certainly be memorable.
And—our house is sure to “sparkle” when we are no longer in it.
If you can’t take six weeks, I suggest heading out for whatever amount of time you can manage. Chat with your Realtor about it and plan your exit strategy around a time when they expect a high number of showings. If you work together ahead of time, you might save yourself a lot of headaches and hard work!
As with anything in life, selling a home is all about expectations. If you are mentally prepared for the disruption, it actually becomes less of one. In our case, we turned lemons into a traveling lemonade stand.
Remember that each time you have to scurry out of the house with your little ones in tow, it is an opportunity to make a memory with them.
That’s pretty priceless when you think about it like that. To read the original version of this post, go to https://www.vogue.com/article/home-selling-tricks-preparing-home-realtor-showing.
Author: Lisa Belcher
February 5th 2018
About Lisa: As a young professional, Lisa Belcher prides herself on blending old-fashioned customer service with...