What are your best tips for showing a house with kids in it?

Clutter-free and ready to show -- the family room.

Clutter-free and ready to show -- the family room.

The house is FINALLY ready to put on the market but now I have to keep it this neat and orderly with three kids living in it.

We’ve never had to show a house before while we were still living there. We had already moved into our second house when we put our first house on the market, and we had already moved out of our second house to come here while it was on the market (for a whole year)!

This time we want it sold before we leave town so we can buy in June in New Jersey without worry.

My girlfriend who sold her house last year here with three kids in it has had some good advice:

  1. Grill out for as many dinners as you can. It will keep kitchen odors out of your house and also keep your kitchen tidy.
  2. Buyers are always going to want to come late afternoon/early evening when you’re trying to do homework and make dinner so I need to plan accordingly.  The kids need to knock out their homework when they first walk in so at 5 or 6 pm we can just leave without worry.
  3. If completely panicked, the dishwasher and washing machine are great places to hide things.
Improved playroom.

Improved playroom.

I am going to let them put a lock box on the door but I think I need at least 30 minutes notice before someone comes in so I can do a quick pick up.  (I’ve given away a fourth to half of our stuff and the rest of our stuff is in storage so I think it will be much easier to control the clutter. )

I am also just going to use the upstairs shower while we’re showing the house. I don’t want to worry about keeping the glass shower sparkling.

How much notice did you ask for before someone could come through?

What did you do with your pet? (We have a small dog that I will just take with me if I am home but what if I am not home?)

L's room

My parents painted Sleeping Beauty's castle and a cameo of Sleeping Beauty (not shown) for Lilina. The red bed was my mother's toddler's bed. My mom and her brother slept in it, my brother and I slept in it and all three of my kids have slept in it.

Where did you store your financial papers, bills, checkbooks when showing the house? What about jewelry? Is tucked in a drawer enough?

Nobody is allowed to shower in this bathroom so I can keep the glass all sparkly.

Nobody is allowed to shower in this bathroom so I can keep the glass all sparkly.

New carpet and new pool deck! Pool is move-in ready!

New carpet and new pool deck! I just have to keep the dog from peeing on it.

46 comments Add your comment

James Wheat

March 19th, 2014
1:02 am

Very well said! I know this is hard to do, but these small details make a lot of difference.. I’ve been a Real Estate broker for 15 years – I’ve seen families handle this with incredible class, and also I’ve seen utter chaos during showings. You indeed have a new fan! Awesome!


March 19th, 2014
1:47 am

Selling a house while living in it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Of course, we were selling in a down market so it took awhile to sell which made it worse. The reason it was so bad was because 80% of buyers do not make appointments. It was more of a “we’re in the area or worse… in your neighborhood… can we drop by in about 10 minutes?” UGH!!! I have 2 kids (aged 3 and 5) and 2 dogs. For me, it was a nightmare trying to keep the house “show ready” every second of every day. I was (am) a stay at home mom which made it harder because we spent most of our time at home… so the messes were 10 times what they would have been had we been out of the house all day everyday.

I realize that I could have made the stipulation “by appointment only” but we felt we could be losing out on alot of potential buyers. In the end, it was one of those “drop by” buyers who ended up buying our house.


March 19th, 2014
1:50 am

I forgot to say that my advice would be to make sure you clean as you go because alot of buyers don’t necessarily make appointments. Most days we barely had enough time to find our shoes and dog leashes to get out door fast enough.


March 19th, 2014
1:57 am

Wowwowowow! You’ve done a GREAT job getting it ready for sale!!!! It looks wonderful!

1. It is NOT unreasonable to ask for two hours notice. You have three kids and a dog — you are going to drive yourself crazy being squeaky clean every single minute of the day, and it’s unrealistic. Insist of two hours notice. There’s a lot of people around here that insist on 24 hours notice (but they often lose out on showings.) Also be sure to request that if the agent’s showing schedule changes more than 15 minutes, to please call and let you know.

2. Make up a plan of attack: Assign each child three “get ready to show!’ chores. When you get the call, you can say, “OK, guys, LET’S DO THIS!” Chores to assign to them: 1. Bathroom: Wipe down the bathroom sink and counter with an instant wipe, lower the lid and straighten the towels. Pull the shower curtain close. (2 minutes) 2. Living room: Plump pillows, straighten coffee table, pick up stray items. (1 minute) 3. “Bedroom superintendent”: Check bedrooms and quickly stash stray shoes, socks, etc. into a small basket that is put in the closet. It helps if each bedroom has a smallish basket (not as big as a clothes basket) that stray things can all be dumped in. Then, later, at leisure, you know they are all in one place. (5 minutes) 4. Sweep front walk. Knock bugs/spider webs off front door, shake out welcome mat. Pick up any papers, etc. from driveway. (2 minutes) 5. Kitchen sink MUST be clear. No exceptions. Everything into the dishwasher! (3-5 minutes) 6. Take out kitchen garbage, give garbage can a quick spritz with room deodorizer. (1 minute) 7. Tuck dog food and water away in utility room — don’t leave it out. 8. Swiffer the floor in the den/ktichen area. (5 minutes) 9. Turn off TV. 10. Turn on ALL lights, especially any under-cabinet lights in the kitchen, etc. Bright, bright, bright!! (3 minutes) 11. Fresh flowers (or REALLY good silk flowers) are always a nice touch in the foyer/entrance hall, especially if you have a table or cabinet in the foyer. 12. Don’t forget the front entrance on the outside — make it inviting with some pretty plants in nice containers, check and make sure that the front doorknob and door knocker is clean and non-rusted. Make sure any door decoration is appropriate (no “holiday” wreaths, for example.)

3. Try to get a non-perfumed air freshener, especially since you have a dog. No overwhelming scent — people wonder what you’re hiding. Give it a spritz or two, especially around the dog’s bedding.

4. If you have a neighbor that can call to go over and take the dog for a few minutes during a showing if you aren’t there, that would be ideal. Otherwise, can the dog hang out in the garage or a baby-gated utility room when you are gone? If you are home, ideally take the dog with you when you leave.

5. Don’t go to bed until the public areas are staged for the next day. In the morning, wake the kids up a few minutes early (5-10 minutes) to give them a few extra minutes to tidy up their own rooms and baths.

If you have irreplaceable pieces of jewelry, sterling, art or important ID papers (passports, birth certificates, etc.) scan the docs, email them to yourself so that you have an easily accessed copy, and then put them in a safe-deposit box. Costume jewelry and small but valuable items (cell phones, tablets, etc.) should have a home in a drawer. A discreetly hidden box in a linen closet is also a good possibility. As long as private papers are out of sight, you should be fine. If you have a desk drawer that locks, even better.

Here’s hoping you sell to the first people that walk through!

Single Mom

March 19th, 2014
2:54 am

Okay here are my tips. Hopefully you have already done a few on the list, if not I hope this helps.

1) De-personalize everything in your house. The trophy’s/awards (if you have any, I do) pictures, children’s art, books or home decorations that identify what type of person you are , to do lists on the fridge, etc….. put that in a suitcase and store the suitcase out of site It’s so much easier for a buyer to take mental ownership of a home when there are not items to make it feel like they are just a visitor in a home.

2),Enforce a only play with one toy at a time rule. If your children want to play with something else, they have to put the toy they were playing with away first. This will help cut down on clean up time if there are not a zillion toys thrown across the house.

3) The house will pretty much stay clean during the week since the kids are in school, but if you have an off day where it is not, get up an hour before you normally would to clean up any little messes.

4) Take showers/baths at night. This way after the kids are in bed, you can clean up the bathroom and have in ready to go the next day. The only thing you will house after getting the call.
A filled up garbage can will attract odors and it is unsightly.

5) Have your family take off their shoes when entering your home. This will cut down on the need to vacuum often and will prevent your clean carpets from staining.

6) If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, go to Bed Bath and Beyond and buy these sink beads. Place them in your garbage disposal, run a little hot water, and turn on your garbage disposal. This will leave your sink area smelling fresh. They come in citrus or floral scents. Comes in handy if there is a sink smell you can’t get rid of.

7) On the weekends, get everybody up and dressed and fed breakfast by 8:00am. This will allow you clean up time and when you get the call, you can leave immediately without having to rush to get kids dressed, house cleaned, etc…. This reminds me: Purchase clothes hampers , where you can’t see the dirty clothes that are inside. No one wants to see dirty clothes in a mesh, see through clothes hamper.

8) When it’s time to leave the house, hide the dog’s water/food bowl under the sink.
If you have a crate, put that in your car. Hide dog beds and dog toys. Potential buyers with allergies will be turned off if they see evidence of a dog. Use a lint brush to get the dog hair off furniture. The idea you want to convey is that you don’t have a pet even though you do.

9) change the air filters, dust the cover to the filter, and get into the habit of wiping down baseboards and crown moldings often. Make sure your windows are cleaned inside and out. If you have a dog that licks window, put vinegar on the windows. That will break the habit.

Single Mom

March 19th, 2014
2:58 am

4) not sure what happened with my number 4 but here it is sans typos:

Take showers/baths at night. This way after the kids are in bed, you can clean up the bathroom and have it ready to go the next day. The only thing you will have to clean after getting the call will be the sinks. Get in the habit of taking out the trash when you are leaving your house after getting the call.
A filled up garbage can will attract odors and it is unsightly.


March 19th, 2014
6:15 am

I absolutely demanded notice before a showing; two kids and two dogs. We probably lost a seller or two but one dog barks when crated so if someone showed up and even though the dogs were crated, the showing would have been miserable due to excessive barking. We put most of our “stuff” in storage and learned to live with very little. What remained could easily be stashed under the bed. I kept any papers/documents in a backpack that I could pick up as we went out the door. I kept a laundry basket in my trunk. Any clutter could go in there, perfect for dog supplies too. I referred to the house as the “hotel house”. Once it went on the market we had to detach and make it hotel-ready. It drove the kids nuts, but it worked. In retrospect, I personally think we took too much “life” from our house. It looked sterile and cold. If you haven’t already pared down your cabinets, do so. A realtor friend of mine said she wants to see front to back in all closets/cabinets. She told me I had too much food in my pantry LOL. Stressful, yes. Remind the kids it’s only temporary. Their cooperation gets them to NYC that much faster.


March 19th, 2014
6:58 am

Excellent suggestions from everyone. One thing I can add is that I picked one day per week when I would not allow showings. I did not tell the realtor; only our family knew. This made the entire process easier to accomplish. On the other hand once when our house was a wreck and we had just come home from somewhere, I broke my rule about not allowing realtors to just show up at the door without a call. We ended up selling the house to these buyers!


March 19th, 2014
7:10 am

@malleesmom…too much food…that would be me…haha!

It has been a long time since we have sold a house and these tips are great reminders.

Looks good TWG!

We lived in a condo when we first moved to Georgia. It was being sold and we were moving into a house. My husband worked nights and is a very sound sleeper. No one called to say they were coming. The real estate agent showed the entire downstairs and walked upstairs to find my husband sound asleep in bed. A surprise for both of them…haha!

Mother of 2

March 19th, 2014
7:11 am

It looks great! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for advanced notice before showings. I’ve been a buyer and a seller many times and completely understood that young children need to be accommodated. I gave each if my kids a laundry basket for toys, etc and asked them to put everything into the laundry basket and stow the basket either in their closet or under their bed. They got into the habit of cleaning up quickly.

Advice about cleaning as you go is helpful. Give yourself an extra 20 minutes or so every time you need to leave the house so you all can do a quick sweep and get rid of clutter. After a short period of time, you realize that you all are constantly cleaning as you go and you won’t need the extra time.

I put jewelry in a safety deposit box. Paperwork was in a locked file box. I don’t think that tucking jewelry in a drawer is a good idea if you have a lock box on the house.

we have requested that buyer’s agents pre-approve buyers before they come to the house. This allows only qualified buyers to come see the house. We allowed for broker open houses, but not for the general public. There are certainly 2 schools of thought on open houses, so your realtor can help you make the best epdecision for you.

Regarding your dog, if you are using a lockbox, you might want to lean a gate on the laundry room door so that unexpected visitors don’t have to be bothered by the dog. Or use any room that is small enough for people to see the room without actually having to walk into the room.

Good luck with the sale. I know that it’s stressful, so I hope it sells quickly.

Mother of 2

March 19th, 2014
7:13 am

Sorry about the typos! I can’t edit my post on the iPad.


March 19th, 2014
7:50 am

If you do get a last minute showing, burn a nice fragrant candle to offset any cooking odors. Regardless of how everyone feels about the actual scent of the candle, it will be more appealing than food odors or doggie ones.


March 19th, 2014
8:23 am

@ Tinkerella…You are SOOO right about the candle. I use to light a Febreeze candle and sometimes open the windows as soon as I hit the door so that I could keep the house fresh.

@ Theresa..everyone has given you such great advice already, so I will just stress the key points

1. Do make sure that they give at least one hour notice. You can let your realtor know this because you have kids and a dog.

2. Make then notify you for every showing so you have the option of declining or at least getting home to get the dog. (When we sold our house int ATL, no one was allowed in without my knowledge. Nothing sucks more than getting home after a long day to see that you can’t go in.)

3. As someone else said, clean as you go. Beds should be made every morning (I trained my kid to start doing this at age six). Get clorox wipes for quick bathroom cleanup. Oh and 409 is your friend in the kitchen.

4. Make a list of places that you can go with the kids and or the dog when there is a showing. The library and park are not always an option.


March 19th, 2014
8:25 am

I’ve only sold one house and we were already out of it…so I can’t be much help there. But, I can relate to buyer perspective. I know there are a lot of rules out there about staging your house. But sometimes I wonder where the inflection point is on the cost/benefit curve.

For instance, our current house was occupied when we bought it. We bought a duplex. At the time we were 1.5 incomes (hubs was in school) and we wanted to move into a neighborhood in the city where the public schools were good and still be close to work (aka Morningside or Mary Lin…there are more options now). And with a sub-6 figure income we couldn’t afford the neighborhoods. So, a duplex made it affordable.

Both units were occupied and they were a sloppy mess when we viewed the house. The apartment that became our apartment was packed to the ceiling with stuff. Windows were obscured and the floors were all grimy. It’s a 100 year old house so we had different standards than we had when we bought our first house. The other apartment was occupied by an artist and it was a also a mess because of her art residue (a lot of clay) all over.

But, we saw past it to the potential of the place. The floors are all wood and tile. The ceilings are high. The architecture is cool. It has great porches. And the location absolutely cannot at all be beat.

So we bought it. Fast forward 10 years: We’re not only 2 full incomes I doubled my salary about 5 years ago. We’ve converted the duplex into a single-family home. We’ve done some renovations. And now we have a fun renovated decent sized house (2300 sqft) in a great part of town.

Sometimes buying a house is an investment or it’s a strategic plan. It just depends. As a seller you don’t know what circumstances with which someone is buying a house when they come to see yours. If you live in a cookie cutter development where you’re competing with the newer development adjacent to you then you might have to go to really great lengths to show your house. But, if not, then I’d make a point to focus on the major advantages to your house and location and just make sure it’s neat and clean. Sure, if you have a tiny kitchen (*raises hand*) then you might want to keep it so spotless so it doesn’t look smaller. Again, depends on the market you’re in.

Nothing trumps location, right?

Good luck selling your place. It looks great. If the rest of it looks like that photo then it should show well.

Real Life

March 19th, 2014
8:51 am

Make sure your children are helping keep the house in order. They need to put away their things as well as having assignments to help with other things around the house. They are perfectly able to help clean bathrooms for example.
We have a portable safe stored under the bed for valuables and store everything of value–jewelry, sterling, etc., that I do not keep in a safe deposit box.
We used disposable plates for meals when selling houses. Makes for very fast cleanups–though not environmentally friendly at all.
And though it can cost our dog spent time at doggy day care when we were going to be gone during the day. We also put away all pet stuff–dishes, toys etc. We discovered during one of our first moves that potential buyers smelled pets whenever they say pet supplies. So we hid them. And we always keep lightly scented vanilla products around the house.


March 19th, 2014
9:09 am

I agree with the folks above. The house I bought…the photos online showed gorgeous hardwood (not laminate) floors and had a cello in the basement. There was a piano in the living room. The photos spoke to me because of those 3 things and I could not get the house of out of mind. It was about $40K more than I wanted to go (but was approved for)…so I was reluctant.

I saw numerous houses below my personal “ceiling” but they all needed major stuff (new heating/air, roofs, etc). Some were dark panel from the 70s. All I saw were money pits, and me with no time, money, or talent to do it all.

I asked to the house in the photos. We went in and I just felt at home….even though the house was dark (it was raining and there were no lights on). The rooms were huge (1980s contemporary home) and had a great flow. The house felt “happy” and “friendly”. It also felt sparse since they had staged it at bare minimums. As I left I called the bank and asked how much my payment would be on the house at list price.

My agent thought I was nuts!!! He said FCM, you’re a single mom I need to put you in a house and know you will be okay. In 5 years we can talk about an upgrade. I looked at him and said, no I am not looking at “starter” thank you, I want a home the kids will be until at least college! He said but this house is above what you wanted to do. I said yep, but it got a new roof last year, new heating and a/c 6 months ago. New tile floors in the foyer, those hardwoods are to die for and the Berber has 5 more years of wear (and my kids staining it) before it needs replaced….every house you showed me needs all those things. The house was awesome (although the staged fruit needed replaced it was starting to go bad) for us. I said look that one room is tangerine orange, the kitchen is sunlight yellow, the basement is mint green. The master is a dull gray with baby poop yellow in the master bath. The hall bath is neon green and yellow….these people have odd choices in paint and many folks will not be okay with that, but I don’t give a crap about colors I like the house.

Sure enough we found out there had been interest but only one offer was expected. I told him to go in at full price b/c I didn’t think the other buyer would in a down market (I wanted that house). I and the other couple (not family) both submitted at full price. Before you think I am sucker….in prime time that house would have taken $250K easy…and I was below $200K.

The family asked to know about the buyers, and hearing I had a viola player…single mom and 2 kids is actually what got me the house. Oh and one other thing they asked if the buyers planned to repaint because they had taken lots of time deciding colors and painting. My agent told him no she was great with the colors.

4 years later I still love the house. We have repainted the kitchen and master bedroom. The Tangerine will be gone by Christmas. I bought a shower curtain that embraces the neon yellow and green…..which I still hate, but it has a vaulted ceiling and I don’t like ladders. ;)

I plan to retile the backsplash (which is leniolium) at some point too, the tile is in the hall closet. And the sellers even left the wood flooring they had bought to do the upstairs hall so I will get to that eventually too.

Remember you never know why a buyer loves your house (that cello told me music and love were in the house and it still is!!!!!) A good fortune to you in getting one!


March 19th, 2014
9:12 am

Great advice! I love reading this blog and the comments when everyone is so nice & helpful. Good luck selling your house Theresa!

V. Lyons

March 19th, 2014
9:34 am

You’re doing great, Theresa, and the house looks good, ready to sell. I’ve found success using baking soda and vinegar for cleaning sinks, garbage disposal, etc. and they cost much less and have little smell compared to packaged cleaning products. Just a suggestion.

Best of luck selling soon.


March 19th, 2014
9:36 am

Really – do you honestly think she doesn’t have a housekeeper? Such a drama queen and a need to be patted on the back for actually living like a normal mom with kids. Grow up


March 19th, 2014
10:34 am

BAF, you are right on…..and don’t forget a yard and pool person too. :)


March 19th, 2014
10:40 am

2 hrs notice minimum…better 24hrs
Remove scale from bathroom
Hang towels on all towel bars…stage the house
Pack your van with any last minute items you cannot put away before showing
Play soft music for showings
No smelly air fresheners, candles, etc
It was the worst experience of my life and it was a hot market so I cannot imagine how stressful it would have been in a down market

Good luck!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 19th, 2014
10:45 am

I appreciate so much all the good advice on last-minute picking up. JLO I hid the scale last night and did hang nice towels and new mat. I still need to do for the upstairs bathroom.

BAF and gail — I haven’t had a housekeeper since my first house when my children were very little, and then she only came once a month just to deep clean.

I did have a team come several weeks ago to wash my walls. I didn’t feel like I could personally wash all the walls in the house.

I do not have a pool person. I was out skimming my pool while you were writing mean comments. We have a guy we call for advice if our chemicals get out of whack but that is all.

I do have a yard person that cuts my palm trees. Do you cut your own palm trees??? Because we all know how to do that properly.

So yeah, it’s pretty much just me taking care of everything with a husband in another state.


March 19th, 2014
10:50 am

Remove the bathroom scale. Paint that purple bedroom a neutral color. Do not let the kids do anything fun until they have done whatever their chores are for helping keep the house tidy. Crate the dog when you are not home. Bathrooms and kitchen must always be sparkling clean, beds always made. Good luck, looks good!


March 19th, 2014
10:53 am

Totally not looking forward to trying to sell our house next year… it’s just my husband and I but we both work from home so we really use our house. AND we have 3 big dogs. There is no way we can leave them at the house when it’s being shown so we’ll have to plan to vacate. We have a neighbor 2 doors down that we dog sit for and they have a fenced backyard as well so I think we’d ask them if we could just borrow their backyard. Interrupting our work schedules is another issue though.

We have started a list of stuff we need to do to get the house ready… paint, carpet in the living room and a few small repairs. I need to add cleaning out a closet a month to the list. For better or worse there are new houses being built in our neighborhood now so we’ll be competing against brand new houses so I do feel like we have to have everything in pristine condition (boo!). The upside is that we have a bigger house, a full basement and higher-end interior finishes than the new ones.


March 19th, 2014
11:24 am

@TWG – what will you do if your house sells quickly and you need to vacate before school ends? Hopefully you could rent the house back for a month or two but I know most people want to move in as soon as they close.


March 19th, 2014
11:31 am

It looks great! Only advice I can give based on what my mom has said based experience as a realtor, is don’t obsess too much. Lack of clutter is important, but depersonalizing, for example, is not as big of a deal as it’s made out to be. A trophy or family photo here or there in a bedroom is not a huge problem — shelves or walls full of them are, but that’s partly because it starts to look cluttered/busy. Do hide signs of the dog, if possible, because it will put people on the lookout for damage done by pets and concern people with allergies. I’d stay away from air fresheners and scented candles entirely — taking trash out nightly and burning an unscented candle after dinner can help neutralize cooking odors.

I really like the idea of each kid having a laundry basket to quickly fill and hide. It’s a rough time for them, and they need to have a way to still feel somewhat at home. Being able to have a basket worth’s of stuff out that can quickly be stashed is a good solution. And please don’t paint the purple room yet. As I recall, you said your youngest was pretty heartbroken about moving, and I’m sure the castle and cameo mean a lot to her since her grandparents did them. I think most buyers will see the room as easily paintable (multiple purple rooms would be an issue), so unless the house sits a few weeks and your realtor reports back that potential buyers are citing it as a big issue, I’d leave it as is.


March 19th, 2014
12:04 pm

Buyer’s perspective since I just purchased a home last month….
1. I agree with at least sort-of depersonalizing. Don’t completely take the life out of the house, IMO. I want to see that the house is actually a home but that might just be me. I went into a home and OMG, even the realtor was horrified. They had pictures and plaques and motivational sayings and nick-nacks EVERYWHERE. Every surface had something on it, even the dining room table. (Where did they put their plates?) I know that I would not be receiving any of their junk with the house but I couldn’t SEE the house for all their stuff. It was a heck no from the door but because I’m me I went through the house just to see what else they had on the walls just out of curiosity. I’m surprised no one had a seizure from all that stimulation. Also, the chandeliers. If you have really crazy light fixtures change them out.
2. A plus for having some furniture in the home is that a buyer can really gauge the size of the rooms and visualize their furniture in the space. I kept saying that my master bedroom was small because the room was empty but when I got the bed in I see that I have more space than I thought. I think it is really important in bedrooms and living rooms. Those are the most expensive rooms to furnish, IMO, so if you plan to use your current furniture it’s good to be able to “see” it there.
3. Make the closets either empty or neat in the main rooms. Closets are a big deal for some people so you really want to make sure they notice them and see how much space they are getting.
4. Same for bathroom.

I fell in love with my house because it was very open and light and the master closet is big enough for a twin bed. :-) The other closets are not that big but I don’t want anyone else to move in so I don’t want them to have too much room to put their stuff in anyway. Not putting dressers in those rooms either for the same reason…don’t want folks to get too comfortable and unpack.


March 19th, 2014
12:12 pm

It is completely reasonable to ask for 30 minutes notice. I always did, and I made sure that I got a call/email each time someone wanted to view the house. Important things you have to do to make the house look good:

1) Start using only one bathroom in the house – be vigilant. Bathrooms can look the nastiest the quickest so you need to condense the number of bathrooms you use.
2) Start using disposable cutlery, and only have a few plates that are not boxed up. You mentioned using the dishwasher as storage – I’ve done that too.
3) Make the kids help -they are old enough as many people have said in the past
4) Take all dirty clothes and either stuff in the washer or dryer, or in one bag that gets put in your trunk or under the bed.
5) You have to be out of the house when they come over. In addition to asking for the 30 min notice, insist that they call your when they leave – leave your number on the counter on 2 X 5s o stick-it notes. I did this and every single person called me both times.
6) Stay close to home and you will feel less annoyed. I often waited in the community’s swim/tennis area and walked the 2 dogs. Most showing were 20 minutes or less, so a good walk that I needed!


March 19th, 2014
12:17 pm

Also, we have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I took the dogs with me, often to the park around the swim/tennis area. One cat is pretty scared so I just left him, as I knew he would crawl under the bed and not come out. The other cat is 20 years old, partially deaf and blind in one eye, She also has dementia, and can go on sreaming fits (more than a meow). I put her in a cage in my office, and just hoped she would sleep through it – she did I think. If I had get her loose, she would have tried to engage the people and not everyone wants a cat near them! BTW – we were lucky and house sold in 2.5 weeks. Just ask for a decent price and make it just a bit higher than you are wiling to take.


March 19th, 2014
12:26 pm

All of these are good suggestions.

Make sure to clean both the insides and outsides of all windows and doors of the house. This will really help the light come in, brightening up the place even more.

Honestly, I’d completely paint over that mural. Call me old-fashioned, but plain, bright colors will really help show a room. I personally don’t like “staging”, which seems to be a trend when it comes to showing a house. I’d rather walk into a completely empty house. Think of it as a blank canvas. Seeing the actual size of the room could really help determine how to use each room.

If you have computers sitting out, I’d highly recommend locking them with passwords. If your family primarily uses mobile or portable computers (notebooks/tablets), have them put away before you leave, and before you go to bed. If everyone currently has their own printer, for the time being consider setting up a network printer that everyone can use, and put away all other printers and other peripherals. Make sure to lock up any other equipment or accessories, including software discs, backup discs, and other items.


March 19th, 2014
12:29 pm

I didn’t see this tip so I am adding it here. When someone is done with the shower, their towels and washcloths get put in the washer – no excuses – and no wet towels hanging anywhere! The washer is better than a clothes hamper as the towels will be wet. Wash the load every day and start over. Seeing wet/used towels is a real turnoff to me. Also wipe down the kirchen sink before each showing so that it is dry and clean.


March 19th, 2014
1:01 pm

missnadine is right about the wet towels in the bathroom! I do not want to see that. Yeah, you live there and yeah you take showers but I don’t the experience with you.

I think everyone has their own likes/dislikes when they go through a home so do whatever you can manage without going nuts. Painting that light mural might just be the thing that makes you…or Lilina… go over the edge. :-) However, the “seizure” house had one that took up two walls, had a bright ORANGE background, and the most high-quality Disney characters I’ve ever seen. It was sooooo well done! But my head started hurting after about 2 minutes in the room. Again, too much stimulation. I saw a small Hello Kitty mural that I thought would be great if I had a little girl (I don’t) so, again, you never know what people are thinking when they see what you’ve done with the home. Some people think the builder’s off-white paint is “sterile” and rush to put colors on the wall and you may already have something they can work with. :-) Just keep it clean and whoever is meant to have it will buy it.


March 19th, 2014
1:48 pm

I really want to see that house now, Denise. Sounds like it was quite the experience!

I think if every room had a mural or were purple it’d be an issue. The reasons I think this one should be left alone are I’m assuming it’s the only room with a nonstandard color and mural, it’s easy to redo (just repaint — no wallpaper to remove), and it’s not a main room. Based on the ceiling fan that I’m guessing is in the center, it looks like a very small room — easy to repaint. If it were a master, or all the smaller bedrooms were colors many people wouldn’t want to keep, it’d be different, but in this case, I don’t think changing it would be worth putting Lilina through.


March 19th, 2014
2:06 pm

Tell them the kids come with the house. Wait…would that lower the value?


March 19th, 2014
2:14 pm

A pet peeve of mine when buying was to see really messy kids’ rooms, like with the stickers all over the wall, because that just translated into more work. Overall my sale/purchase was easy because I work out of the house. I was always home when I got the call to show the house. I showed it maybe 15 times in 2.5 weeks and got 2 offers. Again, price agressively and reduce the game playing. I also bought the 2nd house I looked at.. actually made an offer on the first one too but husband changed his mind.


March 19th, 2014
2:28 pm

I think rooms that are harder to paint – due to running the “length” of the house (such as a hallway) or having a vaulted ceiling (such as the foyer) should be done in some standard, but attractive, color. Anything at a reasonable height (such as your child’s room) can be easily repainted. And, if that’s the only thing causing a problem throw in a $50 Home Depot gift card for them to buy whatever paint they want to throw over that mural – though I think it is adorable.


March 19th, 2014
3:15 pm

@HB, I can’t pull the house up anymore (I tried a few weeks ago when I remembered the address) so it may be sold. To whom I don’t know. I will say, though, that they have a beautiful family and each of the kids must feel special because their art work, school work, pictures, etc. were displayed in the house. Mommy and Daddy celebrated them obviously…and much to the chagrin of everyone who walked in there to maybe purchase. :-)

Hidden Agenda

March 19th, 2014
3:36 pm

Sell the kids off for scientific experimentation. That way you have some extra cash, the house stays clean, and you don’t have to worry about moving them or their stuff too. Win-win.


March 19th, 2014
3:49 pm

@Kat – I love the $50 giftcard idea.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 19th, 2014
3:58 pm

These are all so helpful. I will truly be using these tips — Realtor just came through and was very happy. Doing open houses this Sunday and next so hopefully we’ll see a lot of showings. I love the throwing the laundry in the back of the car. I will look for new hampers but I have a lot of those. Purple room is staying for now unless we get a lot of complaints but I love the $50 Home Depot card idea too. I think only families will be looking at our house and some little girl may fall in love with the paintings and want that house. We also have four koi fish in a very fun pond with waterfalls that I think the kids will like and remember too!


March 19th, 2014
4:28 pm

@MJG – I just read your last comment in the “work/life balance” post from yesterday. I agree 100% with what you said about people choosing a path, and then complaining about it. How is it that you are owed $4K? Do clients not pay in advance? I started my company in 2009, and at first charged on completion. I got ripped off by 2 people and was really surprised. I work with people looking for a job, and I get to know a lot about them in the process. Given that I know their names, addresses, former or current jobs, and more, I am surprised someone would have the balls to not pay. Are you ½ upfront, half later? $4 is a lot of money.
I also agree that children who come from a home with working parents end up being more independent. I did laundry and made dinner at 10 years old, and also had some major chores. My kids did the same. The friends whose parent(s) did not work seemed to be so needy; they even brought their clothes home at break during college so that their mom would wash them -I couldn’t imagine that. I am very active on LinkedIn and was floored when a connection sent this correspondence to all of his 100+ contacts (formatted and reduced a bit) Because of OOOOOOO’s diligence and dedication our family company has reached its goals. OOOOOOO would like to seek a career anywhere in the United States. You will find him to be a hard working, reliable employee, and one who can adapt to any set of circumstances. If your company has a need or you know of anyone else who does, please telephone or text him @ 555.555.5555 or email to 000000@gmail.com Here is a link to his LInkedIn profile 00000000.”

Can you imagine that? If I had a job to fill I would not consider a candidate who’s parent did the networking. I wrote the dad a (private) note and said that it would be MUCH better if 000000 did his own networking, and he seemed oblivious to that concept. I rarely will work with college students now as I have seen a huge surge of helicopter parenting. I will only work with a student if the parent agrees to not be involved! They are even calling employers now on behalf of their “gifted” kids. Wow –just wow!


March 19th, 2014
8:40 pm

@ Theresa and Denise. Believe it or not, all the buyer families LOVED my daughter’s room and attached playroom the most in our last house. It was yellow with restickable decals in a forest motif on the wall. They are easy to remove, but the realtor said leave them. We got so many compliments and actually had to leave them up for the family that bought the house. So you never know.


March 19th, 2014
8:41 pm

We lived in a neighborhood with A TON of mature trees and a private/fenced fully stocked 40 acre lake. Our yard had tons of trees so for those who were house hunting in the winter, our house/neighborhood may not have looked its best with all of the bare trees etc. So I had a small photo album sitting on the dining table to remind people how lush and colorful it looked in spring and summer with all of our flowers in bloom and leaves/flowers on the trees, and koi pond in the yard etc. I got alot of positive feedback on that even if they didn’t buy the house. In the end, the person who bought the house, bought in in the winter and said that she picked ours because I left the fire place on and it was a striking centerpiece of the room. She also asked to keep our $550 fireplace screen. LOL


March 20th, 2014
10:45 am

@WitchyWoman, the playroom I was referring to was sensory overload for ME – plus I don’t have kids – but it looked like something a kid would love. Like I said, everyone is drawn to something different in a home. If I had a kid that mural may have had a different kind of impact on me because it was so well done. My “nephews” have one with animals and musical notes that I love! For me, I decided not to even paint my walls and will add color with the art I put on the walls so having a bright orange room didn’t give me the warm fuzzies. (I’d need more than a $50 gift card for that one! LOL)


March 20th, 2014
11:19 am

Theresa the only thing I would do is add some kind of center piece to the coffee table. Maybe a small vase of fresh flowers.


March 20th, 2014
3:31 pm

Theresa, I think your house looks great..Sounds like everyone has given you great advice..I have looked a lots of homes (ex & I moved 8 times in 10 yrs)..I don’t mind personal items being out, just limit them..Only thing about the dishwasher as storage, is some people look in there, so I’d be careful just what I do put in there..