How to Live in Your Home While It’s on the Market

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From the Zillow Blog, by Brendon Desimone, August 18, 2014:

Homeowners looking to sell usually face the tough task of not only getting their homes ready to go on the market, but also keeping them in “showing” condition once they’re listed. 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.

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.

Make a plan for showings

You know how you live and your daily routine. If everyday life leaves your home looking a little too lived-in, you may want to increase the number of times you clean during the week or invest in a cleaning company to do it for you while your home is on the market.

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.