Once upon a time we were a family of four living in Houston. At that time, our brood was 1 sleep deprived stay-at-home mom, 1 overextended dad, a calm and compliant 4 year old son, a rowdy mess making toddler, and 2 large heavy shedding, but mostly well behaved dogs. We found ourselves thrust into completely foreign and anxiety provoking territory.
You see, we were relocating and naturally needed to sell our house in the process. We’d just finished remodeling and it was ready to be on the market in terms of finishes, updates and the big important stuff that makes for yays or nays in a listing. Problem was, we were in a less than tidy phase of life and weren’t quite sure how we could keep our house show ready all the time.
Staging, LEGO’s and Goldfish
Sure, we managed to make things tip top for the listing photos but that was a one-time deal. We went out to eat while the photographer did her thing and commenced to destroying the cleanliness promptly upon return. We were pretty sure that buyers wouldn’t be too keen on wading through a sea of discarded LEGO bricks or shuffling across a kitchen coated with Goldfish crumbs and dog hair like so much sawdust on a dancehall floor. We’d have to keep our chaos under wraps and hope the house got a bite quickly.
In the week leading up to the house being active on the market I took a few common sense steps to make my life easier. Thankfully our listing agent had already helped us prepare for the listing photos with some sage advice. He recommended that we remove all personal effects and trim down the decor so things looked nice but not cluttered.
Family photos, knick knacks, and toiletries had already been taken down or placed under cover.
From there I went through the playroom and boxed up any toys that weren’t getting heavy use. I figured less toys out meant less mess and plus, I was getting a jump on packing for the move.
I cleared some space in a storage closet big enough for a large laundry basket. I planned to use this as my catch all when we had to clear out on short notice. Shoes, backpacks, mail and the miscellaneous stuff that litters countertops would be quickly gathered and shoved in the closet.
There wasn’t much I could do with my slobbery dogs in way of preparation but I did wash their bedding, give them each a thorough scrubbing, and work them over head to tail with a brush and comb. I hoped this would at least lessen the amount of dog hair dust bunnies I’d have to sweep up with 30 minute’s notice.
Listing Day Lessons
Listing day came and we were pumped at the response. We had a handful of showings scheduled for day 1 and I felt like I had a good game plan in place. I’d zoom around the house making things looks “just so” and then I’d load the boys, the dogs, and myself in the car and head to the neighborhood park. It was close and convenient and had a large gravel track through a wooded area near the playground. If the kids got bored of climbing, we could walk the trail. I figured we’d only be out there about 30 minutes but I grabbed our water bottles on the way out the door because it was summer in Houston, after all.
That first showing ended up taking over an hour, which was great from our point of view as sellers. If the showing takes a while, the buyers must like what they see, right? From our point of view as house evacuees, however, that was not so great. We were roasting outdoors. The dogs were panting profusely and the kids red faces were dripping with sweat. I ended up loading them back in the car, choosing to grin and bear the onslaught of complaints, human and canine alike, in exchange for some cold air.
New plan. Must stay cool
I made a little mental list of places we could get to easily that the kids would be stoked about, the dogs would be welcomed at or at least be safe enough to leave them in the car while it was running, and would keep us from melting in the hot summer heat. That left us with a really awesome indoor church playground, the ice cream parlor, and our friend’s house with a pool.
Sometimes we would have notice the day before and sometimes we’d only have 30 minute’s notice but over the course of the first 3 days on the market we had 15 showings and I managed to clear all of us out of there, leaving little trace of our true way of life behind. Bonus, the kids and pups were reasonably comfortable and happy with the way we passed the time. It was exhausting, no doubt, but worth every rushed moment when we got the house under contract quickly.
If you’re planning to put your house on the market while you are still occupying it and you have concerns about how it will show, take away these tips that will make things easier for you and hopefully help buyer’s see your property in the best possible light.
- Get a head start on packing for the move and remove personal effects, family photos, knick knacks, etc from the house before taking listing photos.
- Designate a space in your house such as a closet or cabinet where your can quickly store things like shoes and mail prior to a showing.
- Think ahead about where you will go when you have a showing and give yourselves plenty of options to choose from.If you have dogs, take them with you.
- You don’t want to put off buyers with a barking dog and you want to spare your dog the confusion of randoms invading their house while they are locked up.
- Even though it can be intense, be as open as possible to showings. Keep advance notice time requirements as minimal as possible in order to encourage showings and sell the house.