In the last month or so I have closed several transactions where families were buying, selling and moving with small children in the mix. Lots of people need to buy or sell because they have kids, and the real estate transaction process comes with plenty of challenges on both sides. Sellers with kids have to juggle constant toy pick-up to keep a home ‘showing-ready’, not to mention accommodate buyers who want to look during nap time or in the early evening after-work hours. Buyers who are looking with kids often pay for child care or bring kids along for showings. Let me tell you from personal experience: getting a baby in and out of carseat for more than say, 2 showings, is about as much fun as….well, it’s not. Not fun. That said, here are some strategies to survive the listing/showing phase of the transaction:

For Sellers:

  • De-clutter before the home is listed- think car-loads to Goodwill. If a toy hasn’t been played with this month, it’s out. If clothes won’t be passed down to the next child and aren’t being worn now, they are out. Be discriminating. You’ll thank yourself later when you are moving way. less. stuff.
  • Pack and store the stuff you want to keep, but are not using right now. Listing in February? Get Christmas decorations out of the house into a storage building (or garage if you have plenty of space). Although you may love the amount of storage your home has, closets look bigger when they are not jam-packed. If a buyer opens a closet to find it stacked to the ceiling, the message is not “wow, look how much they fit in here.” What buyers see is, “Wow, these folks have outgrown this place; it might be tight for us too.”
  • Come up with a quick pre-showing checklist to review each time you get a showing notification. It should include things like: put down toilet lids, empty Diaper Genie, swiffer the floor.

For Buyers:

  • Start by previewing homes on-line. Almost everyone does this already, but everyone will appreciate if you can narrow down the number of stops with kids before you get in the car.
  • Come prepared with snacks and handheld games to entertain kids when homes lose their attention.
  • Establish ground rules such as ‘no touching other people’s stuff’ and ‘no running in a house that is not ours’.
  • Lastly, consider a sitter. I personally love working with families and many kids want to be involved in the search which is great. Sometimes, though, looking with small children can be distracting for parents who have a very big decision to make. If leaving the kids at home with a sitter makes your showing experience more enjoyable, it may be worth the expense.