Hide Everything! The Realtor's Bringing Someone for a Showing!

Keeping your home show-ready at all times is tough. We recommend that you come up with a quick routine to get it looking good in a few minutes, so you can really live there while you try to sell.

Trying to sell your house while you're still living there can be tough. If you anticipate the house being on the market for a while, you may want to rent a storage unit to clear some of your (beautiful, much beloved) clutter.

Or you can do what I did, and shove it all in the back of your mini-van. This was particularly helpful since it gave me a jump start on moving. But there are certain things you need to keep in your house when you're living there, like clothes and toothbrushes. And food. But you want to be available for last-minute showings because you wouldn't want to miss any potential buyers. When you get a call from an agent who wants to show your place, you should be able to get out in ten minutes or less. Try this plan:

  1. Keep an attractive covered basket or trunk in every room. When you leave the house, get your family into the habit of chucking everything into the basket or trunk, and closing the lid. If you can, make the basket look like furniture. Make it fun. Yell, "GO! GO! GO!" and promise the kids ice cream. Use a timer if you want to make it even more "fun."
  2. Wipe off bathroom and kitchen surfaces with an all-purpose spray that doesn't have a powerful chemical smell. Tuck the paper towel or rag that you use into your pocket and deal with it later.
  3. Throw the dish, hand, and bath towels in the hamper, and replace them with clean ones. Keep a stack in one convenient location, so you can run to it. Warning: You may get spoiled and start to enjoy having clean towels every day, like in a hotel.
  4. Have an escape plan with kids and pets. Got a friendly neighbor? Start dropping off banana bread every few days (Bonus: It'll make your house smell nice) and ask for a key to her place and permission to hang out for a few minutes. If the weather's nice, run down the street to your favorite park. Wouldn't you want to buy a house if, just as you were driving up, the family smiled and called out, "Just headed down the street to our great local park!" Only take this step if you can force your kids to act cute and your dog to be cool.
  5. Put fancy hand soap in every bathroom, and encourage your family to use it. Every time someone washes their hands, your bathroom will be left with a fresh scent. And you might even cut down on stomach bugs, with all that hand washing.
  6. Make sure your rugs are secure with rug tape or mats. Nothing says "I don't want to live here" like falling on your behind in someone's dining room. Also, taping them down will ensure they won't get messed up when your kids are chasing each other through the house with lightsabers. 
  7. Control the lighting. No natural light? No problem, but don't let buyers know. Get soft white bulbs for every fixture and lamp, put lamps in dark corners, and leave the house lit up like your holiday-lit-up-item-of-choice when you leave.
  8. Don't be weird in the bathroom. Looking in someone's medicine cabinet during a party is rude (but we all do it anyway), but looking in there during a showing is normal. Keep all the weird stuff in a bag and grab it as you leave. Just don't get pulled over, especially if your weird stuff is illegal.