Of all the noteworthy things involved with selling a home, one thing people don’t talk about quite often enough is how truly weird it is to be living in a for-sale property. Your home doesn’t really feel like your own during this period, and it’s only natural that things will seem a little off. Living in a for-sale home means frequently have to leave at the last minute for showings as well as having to keep your place in tip top shape at all times. But while it’s a necessary evil of the home selling process, there’s no reason you can’t do a few things here and there to make it more comfortable and keep your sanity intact. Read the 10 tips below for the survival advice you’ll need to get through it.
The weeks before your home gets listed are the best time for clearing out clutter and minimizing the amount of stuff you’ll have to deal with while your home is for sale. Think about everything you know you can live without while your home is on the market, and then pack it up and get it out of the house. This includes things like off-season clothing, infrequently used kitchen appliances, and pretty much everything you have stuffed in the back of that one closet. Ask a friend or family member with extra space if they wouldn’t mind storing some boxes for you for a short time, or rent a storage unit. The goal is to get as much as possible out of your home before showings start so that you and your potential buyers are not overwhelmed by clutter later on.
Toss or donate what you don’t need
In addition to packing up the things you don’t have a use for in the near future, spend some time looking through your belongings and get rid of everything you no longer want or need. Less is always more when it comes to both optimizing your home for a quick sale and moving, so edit down your items and don’t hold on to anything that isn’t serving some sort of purpose in your life. Try to donate as much as you can and then recycle or toss the rest. And don’t forget to clean out the fridge and pantry, too (yes, buyers totally look there). Find a local food bank and drop off all the unopened, unexpired food you don’t want anymore.
Find a spot for safekeeping valuables
Living in a for-sale home means you never know who is going to be coming through, so it’s important to think worst case scenario and safely stow away valuable items, important documents, and prescription medications. Clear out space in a safe or lockable drawer and keep these items there for the duration of the time your home is on the market. Keep the key in your wallet or on your normal key ring, and not in the house itself. You’ll have a lot more peace of mind knowing that the items you can’t afford to have go missing are well secured.
Keep it clean
You’ll need to do a major deep clean before having pictures taken for your listing sheet. After that, it’s just a matter of maintaining the same level of cleanliness. Easier said than done. A messy, dirty, or cluttered home is a big turn off for buyers, but constant cleaning can be a headache for sellers. Make it as simple as possible by taking small steps to keep your home at the level of cleanliness it needs to be at to show its best. That means always cleaning dishes right after you use them, making beds in the morning, vacuuming and dusting at least every other day, and just generally keeping clutter to a minimum. Get the whole family involved with a chore chart and assign cleaning tasks based on age and skill level. And whatever you do, don’t fall behind when it comes to your home’s cleanliness lest you end up running around cleaning like a madman when a buyer schedules a showing.
Speaking of keeping it clean, having strangers walking through with dirty shoes can be a major set back to your efforts. It’s totally polite though to keep a little basket of booties by the front door with a sign that asks anyone coming in to please use them. Some people will ignore it, but most will do the polite thing and protect your floors from outside debris. It’s a little bit to ask but can make a big difference when it comes to the day-to-day cleaning you have to do in your for-sale property.
Pack a “go bag”
One of the most stressful parts of living in a for-sale home is often needing to leave on the fly when you get a showing request. Be prepared by keeping a bag near the door for an easy grab-and-go when you have to be out. Put things in there that you don’t want to leave in the house or that you don’t have room for in your safe or locked drawer—think laptops, tablets, mail, spare keys, etc. You don’t need to store these items in the bag all the time, but know what you intend to pack in your go bag and have it handy for when the time comes that you need to use it.
Request two hours’ notice before showings
You want to do everything you can to encourage buyers to come in, but that doesn’t mean driving yourself crazy. Your realtor should give you the option to ask for a certain amount of time before showing requests and the showings themselves, and while last-minute requests will definitely still happen, for the most part you’ll ensure that you get a good heads up for any last minute preparations (and de-cluttering) you need to do before the potential buyer gets there. Two hours should be plenty of time to do anything that you need to do, but it isn’t so much time that buyers might decide it’s not worth the wait.
Have a plan for pets
You don’t want your pets to be there when buyers show up, but you also don’t want to be without your furry companions during the period you’re living in a for-sale home. So find a middle ground for accommodating both situations. It may mean having a trusted dog sitter or neighbor who can pick them up and watch them when a showing is going to happen, or, if you’re going to be home, simply taking them along with you when you leave. Be sure to get this plan in place well ahead of time so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute. And don’t forget to de-clutter pet stuff when you’re de-cluttering your own stuff. Have a place you can quickly stow toys, bowls, and beds when buyers are coming over.
Make a show prep checklist
Show prepping is what you do right before a showing is about to happen. By this point, your home should be staged to sell, but you’ll still want to do a few little things here and there to make it look its most appealing. Make a checklist of everything you want to do for your show prep, including (but not limited to) fluffing pillows, opening all blinds, turning on all the lights, lighting a fire in the fireplace, and hiding away family pictures. Being able to quickly check off the boxes will help you ensure that you’ve done everything you need to do to make your home look its best for every single showing.
Listen to feedback
Living in a for-sale home only gets more frustrating the longer you do it. That’s because there comes a point where you start getting discouraged in the process and wondering whether anyone will ever want to buy your house. One way to combat these negative thoughts is to try your very best to do everything right. Do that and you know it’s less a matter of your home turning buyers off and more just a matter of the right buyer not yet coming through the door. To do this, take all feedback you receive—criticism and all—and think about actionable steps you can take to improve. The more you respond to feedback, the better you’ll set up your home to sell.
Finally, take a deep breath. Nobody ever said that living in a for-sale home is fun, but it is part of the process you have to get through in order to sell your current home and move on to your next one. You’ll get there eventually, and in the meantime, the steps above should help mitigate some of the stress.
Call Redhead Home Properties for any of your home selling needs: 909-570-0404
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