How to Show and Sell Your Home When You Have Kids

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Let’s face it—kids are messy. They leave their toys all over the place, with some kids comparable to small, indoor tornadoes.

So if you’ve decided to sell your house, how can you do it with little bundles of messy joy? How do you best deal with children while showing your home?

First, hide all their junk.

I don’t know how they do it, but kids amass so much stuff: toys, clothes, gadgets, stuffed animals—you name it. And the older the kid, the more stuff you’ll be holding on to.

The problem is that this stuff shouldn’t (ideally) be crammed into your closet. Spacious closets show off how much room potential buyers could have, so you want to keep them free of clutter.

If you have a garage or an attic, those are much better options for storage. Having clutter in a garage, for example, is more acceptable during a walkthrough, since there’s a ton of room and buyers can still envision the space (which is much more difficult in a crowded closet). If you’re in a smaller home or a condo and don’t have these options, it’s best to spend a tiny bit of money and move some of that mess into a storage locker. The cost is minimal, your belongings are secure and out-of-sight, and it’s only temporary. (And if you have a bunch of stuff you’ve been meaning to declutter from your kid’s room, you can put it in the locker and see if they forget about it!)

Also, buy a bunch of those big plastic storage bins. Not only can you group certain toys together, but you can visually see what’s inside, making them a lot more useful than cardboard boxes. They’re easy to stack and look less like you’re moving and more like you’re just organized, which is a better visualization for buyers.

Second, keep them busy.

Keeping your house clean and tidy every day is difficult, even if you don’t have kids. That’s why it’s important to stay incredibly organized.

Have a discussion with the family, outlining duties for everyone in the morning and in the evening. Ensure the kids are involved in the process, so they feel included and are getting excited about the move. Have them tidy their rooms, gather toys, and make their beds.

For the toys and items you do keep in the house, keep them in the “appropriate” rooms. For example, toys should be in the bedroom or the play room; if belongings seem out of place, people walking through will think you don’t have enough room for all their things, therefore they won’t have enough room either.

When you’re actually showing your home to buyers and need to escape with the kids, have a plan. Have grab-and-go bags ready with snacks, games, cards, and toys. Then, at the drop of a hat, you can run out the door so buyers aren’t distracted by your kids.

If you’re wondering where to go, just think of public places where you have some space and things to occupy their time. The library works, if they’re willing to sit and read, or to the park if they need to blow off some steam. You could also have your parents on retainer, ready to entertain like only grandparents can.

Essentially, just keep the buyer in mind when organizing your home and have a plan for showing your house and you’ll sell your house in no time, kids or no kids!

Flickr: Eric Ray

About Jam Michael McDonald

Jam is a content editor based in Toronto. He's been the editor of a community newspaper, a national magazine, and two startups. Although he lives in a tiny condo, he uses every corner, and is an avid cheerleader of the compact home movement. You can find him every day on Twitter @mcjamdonald.

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