Your home is on the market, pristine and expertly staged to get it sold. Now what? How do you still live in your home and keep it in perfect condition - especially for the unexpected showing?
First and foremost, you have to change your mindset; it is not "your home" anymore. Treat the house as if it were a five-star hotel; you need to maintain the staged look and keep everything spotless. You do not want it to appear that anyone is living in the home; there should be no dishes, family pictures, or piles of personal stuff visible. You want your potential buyers to easily envision themselves living in the home. The good news is that keeping your house like a five-star hotel will also enable you to treat yourself and your family to a mini-vacation - no cooking and lots of fun outings!
So how do you and your family eat, sleep and live in your home without leaving any evidence? Here are some simple tricks:
KEEP IT CLEAN:
• Remove all of your kitchen appliances from the counters. Do not use them; keep clean and hidden.
• Have one set of cups, plates and utensils for each family member neatly stored in a cabinet. Use only these dishes and hand wash after every use. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink or out in a dish rack. Eat, drink, wash, dry and put away.
• Use recycled paper plates and cups to limit dishwashing.
• Keep only the essentials in the refrigerator and pantry (potential buyers are known to look inside). Unused pantry items can be donated to your local food bank.
• No personal care products (soap, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush, etc.) should be left out. Give each family member a bathroom tote to hold their daily-used products, to be put away into a closed cabinet after each use.
• Keep antibacterial wipes under the sink for quick and easy cleanup after each sink and shower use.
• Use stick-on toilet cleaners inside the bowls to keep toilets clean and smelling fresh.
• Only guest towels should be displayed in the bathrooms. Each family member should have his or her own set of towels, to be washed regularly and kept out of sight.
• Keep all nightstands and dresser tops clear of personal items. Purchase plastic containers with lids that can easily slide under beds to store reading glasses, books, journals, medications, tissue boxes, etc.
• Be sure to make the beds each morning; that way there is one less thing to do when a showing is scheduled.
• Keep all clothing items neatly put away and laundry baskets hidden in closets.
• Wash, dry, fold and put away laundry on a daily basis if necessary.
• To maintain a tidy living room, keep daily-used items (remote controls, DVDs, video games, children's toys, etc.) hidden away in closed drawers, cabinets or storage ottomans.
• Do not let newspapers, magazines or mail stack up; file away or recycle immediately. Perhaps keep the latest newspaper in your car; it may come in handy when showings are scheduled and you need to head out to a coffee shop or other fun destination.
Eating & Entertainment:
• By now you may be thinking, "How does my family eat?" It is best to go out to eat during this time. Even take-out is a no-no; the goal is to keep your home smelling like fresh flowers, not fried chicken.
• To stay on a budget, visit websites like Groupon or Restaurants.com for deals and coupons. Also, look into daily/weekly meal deals at your local restaurants, like $2 Taco Tuesdays or where kids can "eat free."
• Get your whole family involved and make a list of activities to do on the days your house is scheduled to be shown. Ideas include bowling, going to the beach, zoo, museums, amusement parks, or even visiting relatives.
• Unfortunately, Fido and your feline are not staged-home friendly; it may be best to find another place for them to stay while your home is staged. Perhaps a family member, friend or neighbor can take care of your beloved four-legged family members. Another option would be to send them to a kennel-free boarding "resort" for their own vacation.
• If they must stay in your staged home, designate 1-2 rooms for your pets to live in. This will keep the fur cleanup to a minimum.
Living in a staged home may not come naturally, but if you and your family can adjust your daily routine, it can be a lot of fun. Take the opportunity to go out, explore and do things you all had always hoped to do. Motivate every family member to get in on the challenge and it can turn out to be a memorable time spent together!