One of the most stressful mornings of my life was when a group of realtors from a big local office marched through my home like an army of ants inspecting the place for potential buyers. Having them peek into cupboards and closets as they made their way in and out through rooms of my home couldn’t have made more anymore anxious if I was standing there naked!
Every day for weeks I had to keep the place spotless for showings while my twin 5-year-old boys and 3-year-old daughter were right behind me messing it up!
But, I lived to tell the tale and so can you.
Here are a few of my tips for getting a home ready for sale while still trying to live your life inside of it:
Cull your home with a friend
Too much stuff to move around and clean is your worst enemy. First, simplify your life by getting rid of stuff. A friend is necessary for this task, because a friend will have an unbiased eye when it comes to what should stay and what should go. Avoid the expense of a storage unit by being willing to part with your stuff either through donation or a moving sale.
Next, this is an excellent time to institute a cleaning schedule. If you didn’t have one before and you need a lot of motivation and instruction, I recommend the Flylady method. Flylady provides detailed lists and e-mail reminders that will help give you a good start and keep you motivated.
Your house gets dirty every day and that is not going to change in the new home, so it’s best to stay in the good habit of maintaining it every day.
Remove excess furniture and extraneous items off surfaces
Recruit your family with bribery or tears, or whatever will get them motivated to pick up and put away what they get out. Help them create good habits like wiping down sinks and counter tops after use, getting clothes into the dirty clothes hamper after they come off and hanging up back packs and jackets as they come in the door. Again these are habits that will stay with them in the new house.
Because I am so interested in homes and their upkeep, I often look through real estate websites to check out other people’s homes and I’m surprised with how much people leave out on their counter tops and tables. Stash the blender and toaster in a cupboard. Cull your magazines. Remove the collection of beer bottles from above your kitchen cabinets (I can’t believe I’m saying this but, some of you need to hear it.) And again, have a friend use a critical eye on your home to help to pare down extraneous items and tchotchkes.
Send bottles to the recycling center
If it all seems so overwhelming, just think about how wonderful it will feel to start off in your new home with less stuff and with good habits for its upkeep established. No junk, no ‘ants’, and no beer bottles.