We found our dream house in October and listed our house for sale two weeks later. This past week, we (finally!) got an offer (conditional), went into sign back, had a home inspection and multiple other showings. We have been doing all this while still trying to live our lives and raise our kids, four of whom are seven and younger. I’m hoping that we’re now in the home stretch and will have a signed off, firm sale in the next week or so.
Selling a house with a young, larger family is challenging. Listing your house for sale is always stressful. Trying to keep everything ‘magazine’ perfect is a royal pain, but doing these things with small kids around is a special kind of torture.
These are some of the things that I have learned through this process:
1. Crumbs happen. Busy, stressed out, chasing multiple crumb-producers will mean that sometimes, potential buyers will see some crumbs on your floor or on your countertop. That’s okay. If someone chooses not to buy your house because you had some crumbs on the carpet, they need a mental health evaluation – it’s not you, it’s them.
2. Get the kids involved in getting ready. Pulling together a house for a showing or Open House needs to be a team effort. If you have kids, I know it’s tempting to send them outside and do everything yourself, but don’t. Even a three-year-old can make a pretty good effort at bed making when encouraged and directed to do so. Kids want to be involved and the younger they are, the more they want to help – put those eager workers to well, work, and take some of the stress off yourself. A five-year-old makes a lot of crumbs, but he can also sweep them up and bin them – see previous point, if you’re still worried.
3. Breathe. I try to have everything and everyone out of the house at least 15 minutes before the showing is scheduled to begin. This is to give me time to breathe. I run around pulling the house together but know that a good 15 minutes before anyone is scheduled to be here that my kids will be strapped in their car seats and I’ll be driving away for an hour – and for that hour, I don’t have to pick anything up, clean anything, wipe anything down or do anything at all to ‘sell’ my house.
4. Do your best. If you have done your best to get your house ready, have done your best to maintain your home in good condition, have done your best at picking a realtor to represent you, have done your best to ‘stage’ your home, then you have done YOUR BEST. That’s all you can do. Don’t beat yourself up over any of the feedback you receive. If a potential buyer leaves feedback like “the closet is too square and the kitchen is too small” that’s okay. Those are not things that you control and if the buyer wants oblong closets and a cavernous kitchen, it’s no skin off your nose. Your best is your best. You can’t control other people’s comments, perceptions or wish lists. Your buyer will come and totally fall in love and appreciate your house.
5. Keep talking. Talk to your spouse or significant other, about your fears, stresses and excitement. Talk to your kids about what moving means, both the good and fun stuff and the less fun, work and sacrifice stuff. And keep talking. Dream about your new home together, make plans for your lives, home, family and future together. Keep talking and work through the stress, fear and disappointments. Keep talking and revel in the happy, loving, hopeful feelings that come with taking on a new, exciting adventure together.
And, if all else fails, and the life’s crumbs get the better of you, your kids are more work than help, you can’t breathe, find that your best is curled up in the fetal position in a dark room and you can’t talk anymore then I have found that there is very little that chocolate (any variety) and birthday cake (home-made with buttercream icing, of course) can’t fix and make miles better.
I find furious happiness in a bowl of buttercream icing sometimes, and I won’t apologize for it. When the stress is too much, where do you turn for a dose of ‘happy’?