Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trying to sell a home with kiddos? 7 tips keeping everyone happy

I've never been in the position to sell my home; we just bought for the first time 3 years ago, and have no plans on moving, but I've heard what difficulty it can be to sell. Here's some tips from a reader on how to handle this stressful time with children.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, summer is the perfect time — especially if you have little ones.

Summer affords a little more flexibility in schedules because the kids are likely on break, and shooting for a summer closing day means you’ll be settled into your next home before the new school year kicks off.

Not only is the timing right, but also 71 percent of top real estate agents across the nation, according to HomeLight data, agree that putting your home on the market at the beginning of summer is the right plan.

However, selling is a process, and it becomes more challenging if there are more (little) people involved. But rest assured, we’ve got you covered.

HomeLight put together some of the top tips from real estate professionals and fellow parents — those who’ve been there, done that, and gone back for more — to help smart, thrifty parents work through all the ins and outs of home selling while also keeping everyone happily involved.

Prep work

Half of the battle is making sure your home is ready for showings at a moment’s notice. Here are a few tips to get you started before you put your home on the market.


To put down an offer, buyers have to be able to envision themselves living in the home. That means there can’t be a lot of “you” laying around when they come to see the home. So one of the first things sellers should do is remove personal items, such as family photos, and pack up as much as possible early on.

This is an excellent time to get the kids involved. To get free boxes and have a little fun, take the kids on a box scavenger hunt all over town. Hit the local liquor and grocery stores for boxes.
You can even make it fun by creating a points system for gathering boxes. “Oh that’s a big box little Johnny, 10 points! Great find!”

When you get home with your treasures, have the kids pick out their top can’t-live-for-any-period-of-time-without, favorite toys, and then you and the kids can pack away the rest in the boxes you collected.

Also, take time in this stage to pare down the kids’ clothes and other personal belongings. If you don’t need something in your home, put it in a storage locker. It might cost a little more upfront, but the house will look that much nicer to buyers (which means it’ll probably sell faster), it’ll be that much easier to keep clean, and it’ll be one less thing to do come moving day.

Make a plan for the kids

Buyers can come at any time for showings, so you have to be ready with a plan to vacate the house and make sure it’s in showing condition (we’ll come back to that last bit later).

It’s critical to know where you can go before you have to vacate. So compile a list or a calendar of kid-friendly events you can drop in on without committing and without spending a ton of cash.

  • Check out your local library; events are usually free and tons of fun
  • Find free activities around town like checking out music festivals, going to the zoo or hitting the park
  • Know the movie discount days at your local theater

There are tons of possibilities, but the point is: Showings can be a bit disruptive for the whole family, so make it fun for the kiddos.

Keep your schedule open

You might think, I’ll just keep my kids out of the house by having them enroll in a bunch of activities this summer.

A word of caution: Over-planning kids’ schedules tends to make parents run ragged all over town trying to keep up with swimming lessons, dance classes and basketball camps.

You’ll need that extra energy for other things because selling is stressful enough as it is. Don’t make it harder on yourself by overextending.


The prospect of having random showings when your house is on the market might seem a little overwhelming, but the kids can pitch in on this one too.

Give everyone a job

Give everyone, even the tiniest family members, something to do. The more ownership they take, the more they’ll feel included. Plus, you’ll be quicker in getting out of the house, and everything will be taken care of.

To incentivize, you could even make the fun get-out-of-the-house-quick activities we talked about above rewards for the kids after doing their part in cleaning up and prepping the house for buyer showings. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a checklist of all the things you’ll need to do before jetting out for a showing. Talk to your real estate agent about what buyer expectations look like in your market.
  • Make sure it’s someone’s job to snatch up the trash and maybe Febreze the pad. Smell is a crucial make-or-break detail for buyers.
  • Have someone make sure there are no dishes in the sink and that the counters are wiped down.
  • Get a large basket, and ask your kids to clear any clutter, and store it in a specified location.
  • Remember that showing prep checklist? Refer back to it every single time to make sure all the details have been taken care of.
  • If your kids are old enough, make checking chores off the list and inspecting them one of their jobs. They’ll thoroughly enjoy making sure the ‘rents did their homework.

Have a little something ready to-go

We’ve already talked about finding fun things to do out of the house, but also, consider making to-go boxes or bags. Throw some snacks and drinks together with some art supplies, games and things you might want at a park (balls, frisbees, picnic blanket), put it altogether into a tote bag, and store it in your car for the remainder of the selling process. Then grab, and go when last-minute showings pop up.

As the days wear on, it will get tougher to keep everything show-ready, but stay strong, and take a couple precautions.

Meal planning

Obviously, after putting in all the prep work to make the house immaculate (or at least appear immaculate), you’ll want to keep it light in the kitchen. No four-course meals here.

Instead, take time to plan out your family’s meals and prep ahead of time. Simple dishes like mac and cheese, enchiladas, soups and casseroles are easy to make in advance and freeze until it’s time to use them. Then, just be sure to clean up after every meal.

Keep your kids in the loop

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? After 30-60 days of the selling process, your kids will likely be kind of over it. So take the time to include them in everything, especially where you are in the selling process and what to expect next. Open communication will quell fears and make your kids feel like they’re invested.

See my disclaimer.