My family is in the middle of a house selling and buying and moving adventure. I also have a five year old, an almost four year old, and a one year old. My five year old just started kindergarten this fall and needless to say I did not intend to try to move during the school year.
Our original plan was to try and sell and buy in the spring. You know, when the market is hot. Not right before the holidays! But, plans don't always go the way we think, and an opportunity arose to put a contract on a house we wanted. It's a new house and will take a bit to build, but we needed to go ahead and list ours right away so we have money to put towards it.
Since I just went through this, and I am still going through it, I am going to share my tips for making this as smooth as possible when you have small children. Because let me tell you...they make an already difficult process super challenging!
First item we did was within a two week timeframe get our house ready to list. This included scheduling drywall repair and painting everything a neutral color. Fixing any other items around the house which needed fixing, cleaning or replacing carpets and flooring, updating any items that needed updating, and cleaning out all the extra furniture, toys, and stuff to make it as clutter free as possible. We also got the yard and garage looking as good as possible.
These days everyone expects a house for sale to look as new as possible, and to be staged nicely.
Once all this was done, I scheduled a maid to come in and do a deep cleaning. And then we were ready to list and have an open house. I hoped for a quick sale because with small children it was going to be hard to keep the house clean.
Here are some additional tips for once your house is listed:
Get your kids out of the house. The first weekend I went and stayed with friends. I am so lucky to have such accomdating friends. If you can get out and see friends or family this will help keep your house pristine. We were able to stay away for almost two full days the first weekend our house was listed and this allowed a lot of people to see the house.
Eventually we had to come home and people still wanted to see our house. At this point I recommend limiting the children to a small container of toys only. I was basically keeping us out of the house as much as possible and living out of my car as well.
Eat out as much as you can or have easy to prepare and clean meals ready. We decided not to cook too much. This allowed less cleaning. We also used paper plates when we could.
Keep cleaning supplies ready to go but hide them. Everything in our kitchen was hidden. I believe the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a listed house so I had mine pristine. I ate out, cleaned what little mess I did make, and basically got by for a bit.
Every morning I went through the house and put everything that showed people live here out of site. Here is a morning checklist for while your house is listed to get you out of the house and have it show ready:
Morning to do keeping house show ready
Dress all children.
Put away or hide their dirty clothes.
Make all beds.
Open blinds and curtains so house will be filled with light.
Hide our dog bed. (Having a pet is an extra challenge).
Hide used towels.
Clean up bathroom counters and shower.
Put away any toys.
Put all laundry out of site.
Put all dishes away.
Clean counters and sink and any appliances which are out.
Vacuum crumbs and clean up floors as needed.
Put away dog feeding utensils.
Put away chargers for phones and laptops.
Put towels away.
Make sure appliances look clean, no water and fingerprint spots.
Take down baby gates and turn on lights.
While this list may seem extensive you can modify it to fit your situation. I basically wanted our house to look like nobody lived here. This allows buyers to imagine themselves in your space.
I am not sure how long I could have maintained this level of cleanliness with small children. It was not easy. As I would walk around in the morning checking off my list my one year old would follow me undoing it all. Just do the best you can and hope for the best.
I got lucky and we went under contract within several days. The work was worth it to me for a quick sale and it paid off.
Please let me know what you would add or do differently when listing your home for sale. And, as always please let me know if you have any questions!