January 30, 2018 | Michelle Nichols

You want your home to sell for the highest price — but you still have to live there.

It is a delicate balance to have your home showing in its best possible light while also living there comfortably. If your home is priced right and shows well, the amount of time you need to live in your “for sale” home should be minimized. Here are some tips to make living in your home bearable while it is on the market.

Start packing, organizing and discarding now

If you have lived in your home for many years, chances are you’ve acquired a lot of stuff. To make moving easier, go through the garage, attic, boxes and old cabinets early in the process, and clear out the things you don’t need. If you’re serious about selling, you’ll have to get rid of items and get organized at some point. Doing so before you list will help create more space and will also making moving more manageable.

Store it, sell it, chuck it, or donate it
While you’re packing, work on decluttering and throwing away or donating things you no longer need. It won’t just give you a head start on moving — buyers appreciate extra space when searching for homes. As obvious as it seems, a buyer will naturally be drawn to and pay more for a home that feels as if it has extra space than for one loaded to the ceiling with stuff.

Invest in a storage unit

When your home is going on the market, less is more. Investing in a storage unit or making a nice amount of storage space in the basement or garage will allow your home to show better. If you have too many pieces of furniture in the living room, too many chairs around the kitchen table or extra dressers in the bedroom, take them out and put them in storage. Cluttered rooms turn off potential buyers and can make spaces appear smaller. If you’re uncertain about what should go where, ask your agent to help or bring in a home stager for advice.

Kitchens, bathrooms and main living spaces matter

If you’re living in your home while it is for sale, it should be easy to get the home in showing condition. Empty the large items that you likely won’t use between the time you list and the time you move, and make space to quickly put things away before a showing. Kitchen counters should be as empty as possible when showing. If you can take some of the dishes, plates or small appliances you don’t regularly use out of the cabinets or the pantry, you will make room for the items that need to be hidden for a showing. The same holds true for the bathroom and living room. Clear out the vanity and make room for your daily products. Buyers don’t want to see your “stuff.” They want to imagine themselves living there. Again, less is more.

Maintain your privacy and safety
People will look through your drawers, closets, and medicine cabinets at open houses or showings. Make sure your listing agent insists that other agents accompany their prospective buyers during open houses. Don’t keep anything in the house you don’t want anyone else to see, and protect your valuables.
  • Store mail, personal documents, and valuables in safes
  • Lock up or remove all prescription medicine bottles
  • Enable passwords on your in-home computers and laptops
  • Double-check bedside tables and other areas where you commonly place anything of monetary or sentimental value
Make a plan for showings
There is a fine balance between making your home available at all times and not wanting to live on eggshells. Ask your agent to try to schedule showings during specific time frames. You can then prep your home prior to the designated showing times. Be as accommodating to potential buyers as possible, but if you have young children or pets, plan some showing times upfront with your agent. He or she should be able to communicate that to the agent community and buyers.

Living in your home while it is on the market shouldn’t be a drag. The best piece of advice: Don’t list your home if you truly are not ready to sell. If it is not priced right and doesn’t show well, you may be in for weeks or months of random showings and living around them. Once you are ready to list, do as much as you can upfront. Clear out unnecessary items, create space and make a plan.


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