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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Sell Your Home While You Still Live in It with a Toddler!

Most of you know - we are MOVING! After 6 years in our beloved home, we are moving closer to my husband's work. We knew when we bought our home that this day would eventually come. It's just surreal to know that day is here!

We are building a home, so it won't be ready for several months, but we really wanted to get our house on the market to sell as soon as possible. That way, we could move in with our amazingly nice family {immmm, family, we are moving in, ha ha}, save that house payment each month, and not have to worry about having to sell last minute. With the up and down housing market, we didn't know if our house would take days ... weeks ... or MONTHS to sell. The tricky part about selling your house before you move out of it is just that - YOU STILL LIVE IN IT! So having showings in the house you're trying to live in can get tricky. If you have a few days between showings and they're scheduled far enough ahead of time, you aren't as stressed. But most agents would call and want to come in an hour or two! We had 12 showings in the first week -- and 1-2 showing every other day the following week. So we couldn't ever really LIVE in our home. To get a call and need to have your house ready to show in 2 hours doesn't give you a lot of time for putting away that craft project, folding the laundry and cleaning up the lunch dishes...

I have compiled some TIPS for selling your house while you're still living in it with a toddler. It wasn't easy. It was very stressful. But we got through it and sold our house in less than 3 weeks! If you're in the same situation - YOU CAN DO IT! I hope my tips will help you get through it, too. :)






1. Clean Up!


You may think this is a total no brainer. I thought it was. Until I started looking at other homes for sale online. I couldn't believe some of the photos! Seriously: STUFF. EVERYWHERE. Like - you couldn't put that bowl of half eaten mac 'n cheese away before you took photos of your kitchen? It just is not good for business and it makes your house look TINY - no matter what size it actually is. Clean everything. Now - do you have to deep clean and hire the Merry Maids to scrub every inch? No. Maybe. Well - it depends on your price range, I guess. We were in the under $150K range, so we didn't feel like we needed our home to look like Martha Stewart's, but we still needed to clean. Get those weird smells out, too. Don't put potpourri on your stove or bake cookies. Turn on a Vanilla Scentsy and call it good. And yes, the photo above is from MY bedroom. Nasty, right? Like I said. Clean up!

2. Get Rid of Excess


You don't notice the laundry baskets in the middle of the floor, or those pi's you always throw on the dresser, or that stack of baby toys you keep shuffling from one room to the other ... until you're trying to sell your house! A key to selling your home is getting as much OUT as possible. I was at Home Depot getting paint for a project and was chatting with an employee about selling my home. He said he bought & sold houses for years, so he knew a thing or two about the process. He asked how long I'd lived there. After hearing me reply, "6 years," he smiled and said: You have too much in it. He knew that humans accumulate STUFF year after year and that other humans can't see past that STUFF when deciding whether or not to buy a home. So get the excess OUT. For me, this meant having piles of stuff in my car {where else could it go?!}. We'd try to pack boxes in the evenings or in-between showings to put in a storage unit, but it really was so crazy to get a call and need those half-packed boxes out of the house before the potential buyers came in an hour. So, if you're in a bind and need to get stuff out, use that car!

We weren't getting offers at first on our home, but as the days went on, we got more and more out of the house, and once it got to a point where only BIG stuff was left (beds, couches, kitchen table, etc), then we started getting offer after offer. Don't make people see past your STUFF.


3. Meals on the Counter


Our kitchen is an eat-in kitchen. Ava's highchair is one that attaches to our kitchen table. If it was one that you could fold together and stick in a closet during showings, it would be easy to put away, but to have to attach & detach every meal, then clean up & fix the kitchen table - it just was work & time I didn't want to have to do. Plus, showings would always be scheduled during a 1 hour window ("between 1-2"), so we never really knew when they would show up. If it was during lunchtime - I just couldn't take the time to clean! SO - we ate meals on the counter! Ava thought it was quite fun, and I enjoyed not having a big mess to clean up. Plus, seeing this cutie pie smile through her strawberries 'cause she was on the counter made it worth it every time.

4. Have a Command Station


I kept one area of my kitchen counters as my "command station." I had my phone charger, keys, and snacks for Ava. That way, if a showing was late ... I'd have a place that could be cleaned up easily that had some quick snacks to feed Ava and keep us occupied until it was time for the showing. I knew this was the final place I needed to quick-clean as the buyers were walking to the door!

5. Baby Troll


I told my mom I'd packed almost all of Ava's toys and she, in shock, said, "She's going to go into a baby depressions without toys!" My mom was teasing, of course, but it is a little true. Ava's room is almost 100% packed - including most of her toys. A couple books and some small toys are left, but that's it. That means a bored toddler with tons of wiggles to get out. So I've become a mom I didn't think I'd be, where I let Ava "troll" on my phone for long periods of time. I can't help that she is so dang smart and knows how, from an off position, to turn on my phone and play her baby apps. But you know what? I'm SO glad it's an option. I'm SO glad when I have to clean for an hour and she is tired of books & blocks and only wants me to hold her (which I can't do!) - I'm SO glad she can sit and play the phone games. So just let it be - and promise yourself you'll do extra play time when you've sold your house and settled down again. Plus, your baby might learn something. Ava knows her animal sounds and sings along with the A-B-C Song! 

6. De-Personalize Your Home


A great tip I'd been told by smart people and read about online was to de-personalize my home. I love decorating my home with photos & personal things for our family. Our fridge is covered in baby photos, coupons, ticket stubs, etc., and there are photos of US all over our house. But potential home buyers want to pick their own families living in that house - not yours. So clear off your fridge. Take down the wedding photos. Clear out the bathroom magazines. {The baby photo on the table in the photo above? Yep. I put it away in a drawer, too!}. I figure it's like the awesome Leonardo Dicaprio movie "Inception" - you are just creating the dream, and the potential buyer's subconscious will fill it with their own images. My home definitely felt a little "empty" without all our photos up - but it helped make the packing process easier, because I had already started to take stuff down and pack it away.

7. Lots of Extra Baby Lovin'


Most days, my view was the one pictured above. Baby Ava, following me around as I frantically cleaned the house because we had a showing in an hour, holding a snack she wanted & in her baby babble was just begging me to hold her. Baby sometimes got ignored. Yep. It happened, people! You'll have an hour to be ready for a last minute showing and sitting down to read Don't Let the Duck Drive the Bus & eat yogurt dippers are just not things you can do. So baby will follow you around, whining for attention, and you can't give it to her. There was even one time when I had 10 minutes before a showing and still had 15 minutes of cleaning to do, and I had to put Ava in my room - close the door - and let her cry for 5 minutes, so I could finish up that last thing. And baby doesn't understand. Baby doesn't understand why you're ignoring her to clean. Baby doesn't understand why your house is nearly empty & her toys are in a box in the garage. All baby understands is life suddenly got different and isn't as care free as it normally is. SO. Give that baby some extra lovin'. Go to Chick-fil-A for lunch. Every day, if you need to. Go to a park. Get out of the house somehow. Go to a children's museum and let baby imagine & discover for 2 hours. Ava loves just going to a department store and walking around touching all the clothes & pulling shirts off the shelves {photo below: Ava at the Disney Store - her fave!}. Take time in each day to just BE with your baby doing something fun and non-house-selling related.




8. Don't Stress


I sure wish I'd told myself this one at the beginning. We didn't start our house selling process by planning it out very well. We signed on our new house and 3 days later we just put our house up on the MLS without doing anything or being ready at all. I should have taken a few days and prepared my house better before putting it up for sale, but I didn't know we would get calls the next day to start showing our home. But don't stress! If you don't have fresh flowers for your table - no big deal. If you couldn't get that last half-packed box out of baby's room and it's just pushed aside by the crib - no big deal. If you have to cancel a showing because baby is NOT having it and just needs to go to bed - no big deal. All those things {and more!} happened to me, and guess what? My house still sold. And yours will, too! Try to enjoy the packing - cherish the memories you have of living in your home - and just have HOPE that your house will sell and all your hard work will pay off. Because it will. Just take little moments in the day to read a book, dance in the kitchen to One Direction, kiss that baby mug, drink a Dr Pepper, and just enjoy the last moments in your home with your family.


Well, there are my tips! I hope they help you get through selling your home while you still live in with your babykins. Have you ever sold you home while it's owner occupied? I'd love to hear YOUR stories! Thanks for hanging with me today. :)

xo


Don't forget to enter my Bebe Bloom Boutique Giveaway! Win an adorable Mini Coco Handbag for your little one. This would be such a cute dress up accessory or photo prop for a little girl!


8 comments:

  1. I think these are great tips even if you don't have a toddler! Selling your house is hard work & I can't imagine trying to do it with a little following you around & making messes right where you just cleaned. HA! Congrats on selling so quickly though!!

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  2. Great that your house sold, and so quickly, too! We are currently in the process of moving (one and a half weeks left!), and we are going to be remodeling pretty much everything except for one bathroom in the new house. We are actually in a pretty similar situation - we recently realised we have to move in with my in laws because the amount of work involved is pretty much like we are rebuilding our new home. I'm really glad that we were just renting though because I can't imagine also having to worry about that. I like your tips though :) The baby love is definitely something I need to do more of at the moment :)

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  3. Oh, wow! You are definitely taking on a fun, new project. Yeah - we remodeled 90% of this house over the first 5 years, with a couple outstanding projects we just didn't get to. It takes a lot of work - but it is SO rewarding! To live in your home and think "I designed this kitchen!" or "...remember when we picked out that flooring?" It's just really fun. Glad you have nice family, too, so you have somewhere to stay. I remember when we were remodeling the bathroom in our home, we did it all ourselves, so it took longer than if we'd contracted it out. And it's the only bathroom in our house, so for a while we didn't have a working toilet or shower, so I would have to drive to Lowe's (like a mile away) just to use the bathroom! We even started staying with family, like you'll be doing, because it was too hard to live in a house without a working bathroom. I wish you lots of luck and lots of Pinterest-ing while you plan your new home. :) Thanks for commenting!! xo

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  4. Great points. I totally get this, although the last time we sold our house we had a cat and tons of cat hair to clean up. At this point we have no cat but a three year old instead and I think she's way easier to clean up after than the cat! Haha, we aren't selling our place yet but I know the time is coming down the road and I'm already purging stuff so I have less clutter when the time comes!

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  5. We used to have dogs inside, but when I had my baby, we moved them to an outside run. Pets make it so much harder to clean everything, for sure! That's good you are starting to get rid of STUFF. There is just SO much, so starting now is super smart. Good luck! xo

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  6. Amen!! :) xo

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  7. I needed to read this today, thank you!!!! :)

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Thanks for the chat!

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