Selling a house is already hard enough.
But selling a house when you have children running around, and no partner to help you clean up after them?
It’s enough to keep any single parent awake at night. However, don’t despair — it is possible to keep your house clean and clutter-free for showings without sacrificing your sanity.
Do I Really Need to Stage My Home?
Your first thought might be that you simply don’t have time to keep the home spotless throughout the viewings process.
Surely, buyers can understand that there is someone living in the house?
Unfortunately, not really.
While everyone understands on a rational level that you and your kids need to use the house, buyers need to be able to project themselves onto the house.
This means no clutter, no personal items, and impeccably clean cleanliness.
You can start by hiring a cleaning service to give your home a deep cleaning (a cleaning service will usually charge $50 – $90 an hour for a team of two cleaners).
The good news is that you won’t have to keep this up for long: staged homes often sell 73 percent faster.
Mitigating the Damage
All homes have little things that could use some fixing, but those with kids tend to have more mysterious stains and marks.
This guide by Good Housekeeping includes advice on how to remove 12 different kinds of kid stains, from grass to juice to crayons and even stickers.
Any other basic home maintenance should also be tackled at this point, from creaky doors to a dripping faucet.
You may have gotten used to these things, but they can quickly put buyers off.
You might also want to make some improvements, but stick to those that are likely to pay off, like repainting walls or upgrading kitchen cabinets.
Buyers hate clutter, so most of your stuff needs to go.
This as an opportunity to declutter your household a bit, so do take a minimalist approach to the move.
As you go through your stuff, decide what can go, what can be packed away until the move, and what is essential for now.
Kids might not like the idea of putting away most of their toys, and they might like the idea of donating them even less.
This blog post on decluttering kids’ toys includes some great advice, as well as a handy decluttering calendar to get everything done.
Neutralizing the Kid’s Room
Staging a child’s room can be a scary prospect.
You know buyers like a neutral room, but how do you explain to your child that their space is about to be overhauled for a bunch of strangers?
There are two ways to go in this scenario.
If your child is old enough to understand, you can try to explain it to them and tempt them with promises of an even cooler new room before fully re-doing the room with neutral walls and furniture.
If you think it might be too hard on them, a softer approach is possible: keep their furniture, wall color, and favorite toys, but just clear up the clutter and remove any distracting posters or artwork.
Minimizing Ongoing Mess
Once you have done the above steps, it’s just a matter of making sure things stay tidy and clean.
Implement a basic daily routine to keep surfaces clean and keep the remaining stuff in its place. You should also know how to do some quick staging in case of a last-minute viewing.
Even with just 15 minutes, you can open the windows, wipe down the kitchen and bathroom, and make the place smell nice and fresh.
If you are willing to spend a bit more money, you could bring in a pro. You can find a list of the highest-rated home stagers in Ontario on Houzz.
Selling a house as a single parent can feel overwhelming, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. The secret is good planning, deep cleaning and decluttering, and a solid maintenance routine.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your children in the loop, and try to include them in the process wherever possible — this will make the transition easier on everyone involved.
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