Selling under the influence of kids

The Rob Ellerman Team at ReeceNichols
The Rob Ellerman Team at ReeceNichols
Published on March 8, 2021

Come on, admit it: You started watching those DIY home selling and staging TV shows the minute you made the decision to sell.

You’re not alone. But you should keep in mind that those amazing TV stagers have unlimited budgets and tons of people to help them.

The shows don’t reflect the reality of the basic American home seller’s situation.

Depending on how you’ve maintained the home since you bought it, preparing it for the market can be expensive. All the repairs, the painting, the cleaning and decluttering – it’s a lot of work as well.

Add on the price of hiring a professional home stager and we’re talking some big money coming out of your pocket.

Making your home the belle of the local real estate market is, however, one of the most important things you can do to appeal to a broad range of buyers and make top dollar at the closing table.

Enter: Kids

The most annoying part of selling a home when you have children is having to keep it tidy and staged while it’s on the market.

The second most annoying aspect is those potential buyers who ask for a last-minute showing.

We’ll get to some tips for the latter in a minute. First, let’s talk about staging a home that harbors children.

Plan for chaos

Those last-minute showing requests are a pain. But if you truly want to get the home sold you need to accommodate buyers–and get the kids on board.

Consider the following tips:

Determine how long it will take you to tidy up the home in time for a buyer to do a walk-through. Then, ask us to put a notice in the MLS that you require that much notice for showings.

For instance, if it will take you an hour, we’ll let buyers’ agents know that you need an hour’s notice for showings.

This will give you at least enough time to cover the basics of pick-up, cleaning and getting yourself and the kids out of the home.

Keep the kids distracted while you tidy up. Unless, of course, your kids are immensely helpful and quick. (If so, care to trade?) Otherwise, park them in front of the TV so they stay put and don’t create new messes.

Purchase some laundry baskets from the dollar store and use them to stash toys, mail, dirty dishes and all the other clutter you encounter as you run through the home, tidying up. Then, throw the baskets in the trunk of the car to get them out of sight.

One online parent suggests that you check every toilet before leaving the house. Kids – potty – flush – if yours are like mine when they were little, they tend to skip the latter.


Let’s take a list of the basics of straightening up when you have limited time. These tasks are prioritized from the most important to the lease.

Start in the kitchen:

  • Move the dirty dishes from the sink to the dishwasher and scrub the sink.
  • Remove clutter from the countertops and then wipe them clean.
  • Wipe down the stove.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Sweep the floor.

Move on to the bathroom(s):

  • Flush the toilet and put down the toilet seat.
  • Clear the clutter from the countertops and wipe them down.
  • Clean the sink and wipe water spots off the faucet.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Replace soiled towels with fresh ones.
  • Sweep the floor.

Work on the entry way:

  • If you have a table in the entry way, remove any clutter and dust.
  • Remove all clutter from the entryway and the areas of the home visible from it.

Turn your attention to the bedrooms:

  • If you haven’t made the beds yet, do so now.
  • Pick up toys and stash as many as possible out-of-sight
  • Remove all clutter.

On your way out the door, turn on all lights in the home (including in the closets) and open all the window coverings.

Count heads to ensure you aren’t leaving any little ones behind and head to the park, congratulating your babies on a job well-done.

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