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How to Survive Living in Your For-Sale Home

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

Your home has always been a sanctuary, your personal space. But when that “For Sale” sign goes out on the front lawn, you need to be prepared to bare all. Eager real estate agents will be waiting in line to stampede through your front door, and strangers will comb through every nook and cranny during open houses.

All of this will happen while you are trying to continue with your life as normally as possible. Prepare for your new, hectic life living in a listed home with the following tips.

Start packing now

As of this moment, you probably have fewer than 120 days left in your house. Keep in mind that over the next few months, you’re not going to need many of the space-gobbling items currently filling your rooms and closets. So if it’s May and you won’t need those winter clothes for the next few months, pack them up!

The secret to getting a house clutter-free is to remove the things you can live without while your home is on the market.

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.

Get squeaky clean

Lacking motivation to clean every cobweb off the ceiling fan or scrub the floor? A clean house can gain you $5,000 to $10,000 on your home sale. Aim for five-star-hotel perfection when cleaning sinks, glass, mirrors, windows, and toilets.

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
  • When in doubt, lock it up

Send your pets on a holiday

When putting a house up for sale and taking the pictures for the online listing, prearrange with friends and family to take your pets for the day. Come opening day, when your home hits the market and the open houses and showings begin, plan on boarding your pets elsewhere. And don’t forget to stash away the pet dishes, toys, and beds too.

Prep like a pro

Your real estate agent is busy and will probably show up to open houses around the same time as buyers. Prep your home yourself by turning on all the lights, playing some light music, opening doors or windows if the weather permits, and lighting the fireplace if it’s cold outside.

And don’t forget to make sure the temperature is comfortable for all visitors — you don’t want anything to turn a potential buyer off.

Involve your kids in the process

Make the prep process a game and challenge your kids to a contest of who can clean up their toys and belongings fastest. You might be surprised at how cooperative the kids are and how much fun they have when you yell “Showtime!”

Get it ready and get out

Once you have gone through your open-house checklist, head out! You want potential buyers to feel that this is their beautiful house. Every real estate agent will tell you that the worst thing a seller can do is hover around prospective buyers and their agents. The agents especially need the ability to speak openly and candidly to both your agent and the buyers.

You can do it

Here’s a positive tip: If you truly dress up your house for sale, it’ll sell faster, and you’ll be moving sooner. And since your things are already packed, well-organized, and edited down to the essentials, moving will be a snap. You may even decide you like living a little more like a minimalist and be inspired to keep things organized at your new place.

Do you have advice to share on how to sell your house and live in it? Share your tips in the comments below!