The Five Best Tips For Selling a Home With Kids
If only most real estate agents understood what it was like to sell a home with kids. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time selling a home, you’ve probably heard the same terrible advice:
- “Make sure you declutter your home. Get everything out of the way. Pack all of the toys. Put stuff in a storage unit. Take your photos down. Give all of the stuff that took you ten years to collect to Goodwill.”
- “You have to drop everything you’re doing and be available for a showing at any time. It doesn’t matter if your kid is napping. Wake him and get out of the house… fast.”
- “Stage your home by removing furniture or rearranging rooms. You need to take all of the comfortability out of your home so that people can imagine themselves in it.”
It’s like all of the agents who give this advice never tried selling a home with kids. When you follow the same terrible and generic advice, you take the home out of your house and you’re left with a kid whose cortisol levels are through the roof because you had to wake him and move him quickly.
Why can’t any real estate agents give advice that is actually helpful for selling with kids? The same generic advice doesn’t work for everyone. You have a large to-do list, a schedule to keep, and a list of other things.
Can staging help you sell your home? Yes. Is decluttering better? Yes. Is the advice they give what we SHOULD all do? Yes.
But what most agents don’t get is that it’s impractical. Getting the house in that “perfect” condition that most real estate agents recommend is impossible.
Their advice is like a blown out diaper where the mess crawls all of the way up the back. It’s crappy.
Kids are like precious evil masterminds with zero concern for the fact that you’re trying to sell the house. So yes, you’re kid will spill red fruit punch on the carpet just 12 hours before a showing. Then, you’ll have to call Stanley Steemer to get the stain out.
Yes, your kids will take all of the toys out of the closet and totes that you just spent the last three hours packing.
When we sell a home with kids, we have to find a sweet spot between trying to get our home to that “perfect” condition so that it can sell and keeping our sanity in check. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves in a situation where our husband is considering admitting us into a mental institution.
That’s why I’ve created these five tips for selling your home with kids. These are practical and realistic tips for parents who are selling homes.
Have a Talk About Selling Your Home With Your Kids
Probably not the talk you’re thinking of… unless your kids need that one too. I’m talking about having a conversation with your kids about moving. You’ll want to talk with them about what moving means, what’s going to happen with them, and what you expect from them over the next couple of weeks.
It’s unlikely this will be a one time conversation. It will need to be an open dialogue that continues even after you move. I know this probably sounds like common sense, but you’ll be surprised by the number of kids who walk home from school only to find a For Sale sign in the yard.
Moving and selling a home is a major transition for a kid. First, you’ll want to have a conversation that your child understands. For example, if you’re talking to a child who is under the age of six, you might say something like this:
“We’re going to start eating, playing and sleeping in another place soon. It’s kind of like this place, but it’s bigger and has lots of trees in the yard. I’m a little scared and sad too, but it is something new that we get to experience together.”
Once you have some conversations, you’ll want to ask them how they are feeling. Help them communicate their feelings and express those feelings. A lot of parents are quick to tell their kids they shouldn’t feel a certain way. We say things like, “Stop crying. There’s nothing to be sad about.”
But look at it from a kid’s perspective. They feel a wave of emotions and don’t know how to express it properly. It’s your job to help them express those feelings in an appropriate manner. If expressing those feelings is too complex, there is an easy way to do it.
A good way to do that is what’s called “checking the engine”. This idea was taken from Karyn Purvis, a parenting expert in dealing with kids from troubled backgrounds.
Blue means the kid is feeling sad. Green is just right. Yellow is feeling anxious, hyper, and worried. Red is angry.
Don’t Get the Kids Involved
A lot of people will tell you that you should try to get the kids involved, but good luck. I struggle getting my kids to do anything more than make their bed and clean their room. Even getting them to do that is like pulling a dead horse.
Most kids don’t want to help you clean the home. I hate to say this, the TV will be the best babysitter while you try to sell your home. If you’re concerned about too much “screen time”, don’t be. I’m convinced the idea of “screen time” being bad was created by pediatricians who have no idea what it’s like to try to raise kids.
Let the kids do their usual stuff and keep routine. If your kids are responsible for dishes or mowing the lawn, let them keep doing it. As adults, we hate when our routines are thrown off. It’s worse for kids because they haven’t learned to express their feelings.
Imagine waking up one day and the road you take to work is closed. It throws off your whole morning. Same goes for a kid. Imagine a kid having to come home to more and more chores because you’re trying to move.
Keeping routine will make sure your sanity stay in check. I know it can seem impossible to keep a good routine when most agents tell you that you need to drop everything at the drop of a hat to do a showing, but I have some good ideas on how to handle that.
Structure Your Showings and Require Five Hours Notice
If you didn’t have to do any showings, selling a house would be easy. You wouldn’t have to any of the staging, preparing, and running out of the house. So, if we can limit the amount of showings, then the selling process will be much easier.
Here’s how I do this:
- I make video and virtual tours so that buyers can know if the house might be for them without wasting time by scheduling a showing because the pictures weren’t enough for them.
- Try to strategically group all of the showings together so that I have multiple potential buyers in one showing.
- I recommend that all home sellers create specific time slots in their calendar for showings.
- I recommend requiring at least four to five hours notice.
- Let’s tackle each one of these and the benefits. First, getting a video or a virtual tour of your home will be another step to qualify potential buyers before a showing.
Sometimes pictures just don’t do a good job helping potential buyers get a good idea of the layout or any good details about the home. With a video, buyers can experience what it would be like to have a tour. They can get an idea of the overall layout of the home.
The buying process starts online, so why not keep it online for as long as possible without losing any good leads? Videos do just that. They disqualify people who wouldn’t be interested in your home if they took a physical tour.
This technique alone will limit the amount of showings and save you from wasting your time with low-quality buyers. The next step is to try to schedule all potential showings at one time. If you have enough inquiries on your house in a good timeframe, try to schedule one showing for multiple buyers.
This has a few benefits. One, you can limit the amount of showings. Two, touring one home with multiple families will increase the perceived demand for your home, and ultimately, your home’s selling price.
The next thing that I recommend to families is that they set specific time in their calendar for showings. For example, you might know that Timmy has soccer practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 6. Whenever possible, try to move the showings during those times.
You were going to be out anyways. If you don’t have any events, you can still make it a regular trip. For example, maybe the kids can go see Grandma every Wednesday from 5 to 8 while you and the hubby go out for dinner.
This will save you time from having to drop everything and will allow you to form and keep a routine while selling your house.
Unfortunately, there may be occasions where fitting someone into your set scheduled showings is impossible. For example, out of town buyers typically can’t be squeezed into your schedule.
When this happens and you have to drop everything, tell your agent you will need at least four to five hours notice before a showing. This should give you time to get the house ready and execute your game plan.
It’s a good idea to have an emergency game plan in place if you do have to get out of the house quick. You can create your own game plan. It should include time to clean, get the kids ready, and stage the home.
Here’s the general plan that I recommend for most of my clients:
- Throw the kids in one place so that you can clean the house. The worst part of cleaning is getting it done with your kids following behind you and making a mess. This should take you about an hour.
- Move furniture around and put stuff in the closet. Clean up the area where the kids are playing. Take a look outside and make sure there aren’t any toys in the yard. This should take about an hour too.
- Get the kids ready. I recommend that you have an emergency to-go bag. It should include snacks, maybe a few toys, books, and anything else you might need like diapers and formula. This will take you about an hour.
- Get out of the house and account for any other problems. Bam. Done.
The biggest thing you can do to save yourself is to be prepared and have a game plan in place.
Zero Open Houses. Seriously
Yes, it’s tempting. The agent will sell you on the idea of having your house available and a ton of people will come by. But studies show that less than 5% of homes sell from an open house and this number is likely to decrease with the internet.
If you’re agent is trying to convince you that you need an open house, then they have no idea what it’s like to sell a home with a family. Do you know why agents recommend open houses?
It’s because they can collect a decent amount of buyer leads from them. But rarely does anyone ever buy. You end up getting a lot of tire kickers and wasting your entire weekend.
As an agent, if I hold “open houses”, it’s a group style. I tell everyone to meet me at the first house by 10am. We spend 30-minutes to an hour at the first house, then we drive the next three to four houses.
This means we can have a group of people at one house for a set time. It creates a demand effect when you have multiple people at a single home and it saves you from wasting your time having to be gone ALL day.
Stage and Prepare the Home as Best as Possible
There are a lot of benefits to having a properly staged home. It can sell faster and for a higher price than a non-staged home, but it’s not that realistic.
So I just recommend that you prepare your home as best as possible. Our children have very few toys and even I still struggle to keep the house clean all of the time. You somehow find toys in the bath tub, in the fridge, and other random places that leave you scratching your head.
Just get a bunch of totes. Store your stuff in totes and put them in your garage, parents, or a storage unit. You will want to keep your storage spaces only 75% full.
Americans love storage space, so we want houses with good storage to fit all of our random stuff like the vegetable-thingy your husband just had to have for cooking — even though he’s never made a meal the entire 10 years you’ve been married.
Getting your home to “perfect” is going to be impossible whenever you’re selling a home with kids. You’ll have to find that balance between being willing to do anything to make your house sell and keeping your life in order.
You’re going to want to find an agent who understands this. You’ll want an agent who works specifically with families. Selling a home can be a stressful process. It’s even more complicated when we throw kids into the mix.
About: Mocha Homes is a real estate team based out of Lansing that sells and buys homes exclusively for families. They have spent their time and designed their business around working with families to sell their homes fast and for good money without having to drain all of the headache pills out of the medicine cabinet.