Putting your house on the market is a stressful process for most people. Add kids into the mix and it may be tempting to take the “For Sale” sign off the lawn! The trick, say veteran real estate agents, is to make your home appeal to all buyers, regardless of whether they have little ones. That means tucking away toys in storage bins and de-cluttering high-traffic spaces. Staging your home for a sale requires a ton of patience and commitment from the whole family. But you can get your kids involved and make the experience fun, too! Here are five tips for getting to the finish line:
1. Ready, set, purge! There’s no time like the present to get rid of all that old baby and kids’ gear that’s been taking up space in your basement. If you’ve got highchairs, playpens or sports equipment that you don’t use anymore, get ready to purge. Host a garage sale. Donate to a local charity. Or offer up any unused toys to friends and family. Anything leftover can be hidden away neatly in the garage or in a rented storage locker.
2. De-clutter: Buyers like to see clean, open and well-organized spaces when they first walk into a home. They want to know that they’ll have plenty of room to store their own stuff, whether they have children or not. All loose toys should be neatly sorted into bins or drawers to maximize floor space. Clunkier items can go in the garage. Kids’ art work should be removed from walls and refrigerators. Baby gates need to be taken down (temporarily). And in the bathroom, tuck potty seats and tub toys away to create less mess.
3. Find the right storage solutions: Don’t forget that nosy buyers will peek into every nook and cranny they can find. This includes kids’ closets, playroom cupboards and mudroom drawers. It can be a challenge to keep these spaces organized at the best of times. But during a move, it’s even more important to keep things looking neat and tidy. Consider buying a hanging organizer (or two!) for your child’s closet. Purchase some inexpensive storage bins, then sort and label toys and crafts into categories. Find a shoe rack for the mudroom or buy some extra hooks to hang coats on. (one per peg, please!)
4. Clean up outdoor spaces: If you’ve got kids, chances are your front porch, driveway or backyard are littered with strollers, ride-on toys or hockey nets. Keep in mind that the outside of your home helps many buyers form that all-important “first impression.” Don’t forget to tidy these areas (front and back) with the same gusto as the inside of your home. Remove any loose equipment and place in the garage or garden shed. Or ask a neighbour to store some of your kids’ stuff while the “For Sale” sign is up. If neither is an option, line up extra gear neatly at the side of your home where it will be less likely to be seen from the street or backyard.
5. Move out!: Are your kids still infants or toddlers? You may find it difficult (read: impossible!) to keep grubby fingerprints, spilled milk and playroom disasters under control while potential buyers tour your home. Naptimes can also be disrupted. Some families move into a hotel while their house is on the market. Others camp out at Grandma and Grandpa’s until the deal is done. If you have to stay put, make sure to plan plenty of play dates and excursions to keep your kids out of the house during the day. Limit showings during naps or bedtime. Eat out more often to keep the kitchen clean and odour-free. Empty diaper pails regularly. Or share a bathroom with your children to cut-down on daily scrubbings.