Selling your home under any circumstances can be stressful. But selling a home with kids can potentially bring about an entire level of stress you never thought possible. Luckily, it doesn't have to be that way. You just need to implement some kid-friendly steps that will make selling your home with kids a breeze.
Here are five steps that will take some of the stress out of selling a home with kids.
Have the Talk
No matter what age kids you have, talking with them and including them in your plans is critical to their acceptance and cooperation when it comes to selling your home. Most kids don't like change. It could mean them losing their friends, starting at a new school and a whole other realm of insecurities that might seem irrelevant to an adult.
It is important to have a well thought out plan as to how you will be presenting the selling your home before you actually sit down and talk with them about it. You will need to help paint a mental picture for them of their new room, fun things to do in the new neighborhood and the surrounding amenities, how great their new school will be and why and that their friends can come and visit anytime, etc.
Don't just tell them you're moving and let them develop their own mental picture that will surely be based on their insecurities.
Develop a Designated "Kid" Space for Each Child
The next step will be to properly prepare your child for cleaning, de-cluttering, trashing and boxing up their things. However, before you get to this step, you will need to have them select a set number of items (toys, games, etc.) they can keep in their space. Assign a designated space for each child. It could be a small 4 x 4 space in their closet or perhaps on a shelf in the garage or whatever works best for you. Then have them fill that space with their "essentials".
By assigning them a limited amount of space, you will help keep their essentials to a minimum. It will also give them a guideline they can understand. Be sure to remind them that once that space is filled, they can't keep anything else out.
Throw a "Party"
The next thing you may want to do is to throw a party. Not your regular kind of party, but a pre-sale party where you make de-cluttering, trashing and boxing up all non-necessities a fun thing rather than a dreaded, pull your hair out kind of task. You can start by incorporating fun things into the day. For example, make breakfast, lunch and dinner special with all their favorite foods and have a buffet style of snacks available throughout the day.
You can also hide prizes in their rooms to encourage the process. And, you can have timed prizes that are awarded for different tasks. For example, you can give them a prize if they clean out their closets by lunch, then another prize if they have their closets packed (except for what they absolutely have to have over the next month or so) within a few hours after that.
This will serve two purposes. It will make the process fun and rewarding and will also help prevent sadness when they are going through their things and thinking about what they will be leaving behind. This method will have them focusing on the prizes and how quickly they can get their tasks done to get those prizes. So make sure the prizes you choose are something they really want and are worth working for.
Prepping the Rooms
Most buyers, even if they have kids of their own, will have an easier time viewing your home if the rooms are neutral. That means neutral paint colors, no family photos on the walls, no posters, banners or other memorabilia. Kids sometimes have a hard time changing their room into a neutral space. You have to once again help them mentally prepare for this.
Allowing them to help pick out the colors and decor for their new room can help. You can also let them help with painting their rooms once a neutral color is decided upon. Do whatever you have to do to make this a fun thing in their minds. This will also give them something to look forward to.
Practice Your Routine
Now that you have your house ready to put on the market, you will need to set some ground rules and practice your routine for when someone schedules to tour your home. This could be last minute; therefore, you will have to make sure your routine can be performed within 15-30 minutes. Your routine should include a checklist of assigned tasks for each person in your household to perform once a showing is scheduled. You will likely need to practice it a few times so you can work out the kinks before an actual showing occurs. Here are a few things you should consider putting on your list.
- Remove from sight all toys, pet dishes, dirty laundry and dirty dishes.
- Put away all highchairs, playpens, etc.
- Clean out the diaper pail and litter boxes.
- Keep a laundry basket near your front door to throw last minute items in. This can be easily thrown in the trunk of your car and dealt with later.
- Straighten everything on your coffee tables, bookshelves, desks, etc.
- Wipe down the kitchen, bathrooms, toilets and put away all toiletries as well.
- Perform a quick vacuum job.
- Make the beds.
- Open the blinds, turn on some soft music and spray a few small squirts of air freshener on your way out the door.
The pre-showing mad-dash is the most challenging part of selling your home with kids. So, once again, you will need to make it fun. Perhaps have treats and/or prizes ready for when your kids meet the expectations of your routine every time they prepare for a showing. This will give them an incentive to make it happen quickly and smoothly and will make it fun rather than a stress-filled gripe-fest for you, and them.
Get Kids' Input on Their New Home
According to SunTrust Bank, over half of all adults include their children in decisions about buying a new home. This is a move that makes sense: keeping kids involved in decisions makes them feel like their opinion matters. Ask kids what they want in a new home to make them more excited about the move.
It can help to start with some suggestions and ground rules. Do they want to live in a neighborhood that has amenities like a community pool or sporting courts? Would a nearby dog park be a draw? Older kids may want to live someplace close to public transit routes for freedom and mobility.
Individual home features, such as a game room or a pool, can also be exciting. Kids may also have opinions on the aesthetics of specific homes. When you find one you like, ask what they think.
Once your house sells and you are all settled in your new home, don't forget to thank your family for a job well done. They will appreciate the gesture and will remember how easy and fun it all was should you ever have the need to move again. Selling a house with kids can be a challenge, but with the right attitude and approach, you can make it a little easier and a little more fun for everyone.
The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage
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