Spring has moved in, and in the world of real estate, that means many of you are considering selling your home.
In order to increase the pool of potential buyers, the goal is to make the house look as neutral as possible. This is challenging for families with kids. You may have heard the selling-your-home rules of “neutral wall paints, no family photos, and 3 items on the counters.” These are important, but how can you make selling even easier on yourself?
Tip #1: Hire a real estate broker who is kid-friendly.
Of course, you want a broker who will get your house sold. But brokers are like all other businesses; some are more kid-friendly than others. Since your main goal is to make your house look like no kid has ever even thought about the house, the last thing you need during this time is someone making you feel extra stressed about your kids’ messes and presence.
When interviewing a broker, be honest about what your family is capable of doing in terms of clutter, cleanliness, etc. If you might need to bring kids to the appointments and to closing, let the broker know and then check for a reaction. Anything other than, “That’s totally fine!” should make you cautious.
Tip #2: Curb appeal is everything when selling your home.
Buyers will make a decision about your home within 15 seconds. If no kids commandeer the first impression, buyers are more forgiving about the kids on the inside.
Sweep walkways, rake sticks and leaves, pull weeds, trim plants.
Re-paint and clean the front door and garage door.
Clear away anything “kiddie” from the front – scooters, chalks, shoes, etc.
This one is easy to do. Do it.
Tip #3: Pack in advance.
Put all items in storage that are not absolutely necessary for your kids’ and your sanity. If it doesn’t fit into a box or have a neat place on (an otherwise mostly empty) shelf, store it. Buyers understand that if there is a family with kids living in the house, toys will be around. They will, however, not fall in love with a house where they almost broke their ankle stepping on a Lego.
Storage unit is out of your budget or time consuming? Don’t have relatives with empty garages around the corner? Your garage is the next best option.
The key is to keep it as organized as possible, leaving plenty of space around “the vital organs of the house” – water heater, furnace, electrical panel, etc. for easy access for the inspector.
Tip #4: Always assume that you have more stuff than you do in your wildest dreams.
Way more. Even after you have had 2 garage sales and 6 trips to Goodwill.
I learned that lesson when my oldest was 3-months old. We lived in a 900 sq/ft condo with no garage. I had left “just a few” extra boxes to be packed on the moving day. You see where I am going with this. We finished 6 hours later than we had planned, with anxiety through the roof, plus one cranky baby and my husband and I ready to reconsider our marital agreement. Not worth it.
Plan for how long it would take you to pack, and then add 1-2 days to it.
Tip #5: The kitchen is what sells your house.
The kitchen is also the hardest to keep staged and clean and clutter free. Try these things:
Make your kitchen a toy free zone. Period. It will make everyone’s life easier at showing times.
Clear the counter tops. Every square inch here is valuable real estate.
Leave one big drawer empty. That’s where you can stash all the miscellaneous items from counters before showing: lunch boxes, bottles, bibs, and unidentifiable items that seem to accompany kids.
Take everything off the fridge – the kitchen will look so much bigger.
Cook in the oven to prevent messing up the stove top.
Get into a habit of running the dishwasher every night – great for cleanliness and odor-control. Same goes for emptying the trash.
Tip #6: Photos are the business cards of your home.
Over 90% of buyers will look at your home first online. Keep anything that conveys “kids” – toys, tiny furniture, clothes, shoes, etc – out of the photos as much as possible. Just move them away from the camera for the time of photo shoot. Cover kids’ beds with neutral covers (you can even move the same comforter around if need be).
Keep in mind that what looks great in person, might look cluttered and stuffy on photos. Work with your broker and photographer to get the house to look full of space and light.
Tip #7: Leave the house for showings.
All of you. A smart idea is to plan family trips for the first few weeks when your house is on the market. That’s when you will get the most showings, provided you have priced your house well (read: competitively).
If no trips are in sight, leave the house for showing times. Make sure to be out 15 minutes before the showing and don’t be back even on the street before 15 min after the showing is over.
Here is a printable checklist to complete before showings. Include your kids to give you a hand and check off items. They will love it!!!
Finally, take a deep breath and relax. Buying a home is like finding a boyfriend or girlfriend–there either is chemistry, or not, and no magic potion or clean bathroom will make someone love your house. But when chemistry is there, the buyers will be able to overlook several shortcomings in the name of love.
Eva Fanari is a mom of two, a wife, a devoted pack member of an Australian Shepherd, and a real estate specialist with Coldwell Banker Legacy.
She has worked with several aspects of the real estate industry. She has represented Buyers, Sellers and Investors in the Greater Albuquerque Area. Eva has been trained and inspired by some of the best in the business and self-development world, including Jim Rohn, Dale Carnegie, and Wayne Dyer. Her background is in teaching and history, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Savannah, GA.
Eva has been an Albuquerque resident since 2007. She is an enthusiastic member of the community. She has served as a board member for her local Moms’ Club chapter and is currently serving as a board member for two non-profits: Galloping Grace Youth Ranch and Taylor Ranch Toastmasers. She enjoys hiking, skiing, and all the abundant and wondrous outdoor activities that are the gifts of New Mexico.