Author Topic: Putting house on market while still living there...with a toddler and newborn?  (Read 3558 times)

mrsnamemustache

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Putting house on market while still living there with a toddler and newborn (1 month old): bad idea, right? Even if it will save us around $1,300 or several thousand more (if we decide we need to stage the house)?

Our move date is flexible so we could vacate before we put it on the market. Deciding to vacate before putting it on the market wouldn't cost as much if we decided not to stage it, but it seems like staging is the norm in our neighborhood and may be a worthwhile expense (if we stayed in the house, we could use our own stuff to stage it)

I imagine that the main challenge will be getting out of the house for showings when the little ones are sleeping or need to sleep (which is all the time for a newborn). Our real estate agent estimates we will have 4-5 showings a week. On a positive note, we think the house will sale pretty quickly, and I guess showings will slow down or stop once it is under contract? Also, both me and my husband will be home the whole time, so we'll have two people to deal with this.

Details that may or may not be relevant: we are moving out of state, stuff is being moved by a moving company (courtesy of new job), and we don't have family super close by (but have friends whose house we could probably go to when we have showings).

Any thoughts?


acroy

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Good luck with the sale!
I'd not overthink it too much. Sounds like the RE market is pretty hot where you are. Declutter, make it look good, live minimally for a couple weeks and deal with the hassle. Should not be an issue. It worked for us, in a similar situation a few years ago.

Kapiira

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I had an almost identical situation and we showed the house while we were still living there.  It worked out alright.  If there's a certain time your toddler naps, you could always tell the realtor that you can't show the house during that time frame.  I would at least give it a try.  If it's too terrible you can take it off the market and have them put it back on after you leave.

If you show while you're living there, I strongly recommend clearing out at least one drawer/cabinet in each room.  That way you can pick up toys, clothes, ect and just throw them into the drawer.  Makes last minute straightening much easier.

historienne

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When we sold our house in a similar situation, we did it through a facebook group, with no realtor, and all we did before showing was to clean up the house.  That said, if we hadn't been able to sell that way, we would absolutely have waited until after moving.  We couldn't have done evening showings at all, and I was a hot mess during the day for quite a while. 

What is the seasonality of your market like?  For us, the biggest reason that we wanted to sell before moving was that we were moving in the fall, and waiting would have meant trying to sell in the slow season.  But not all markets are quite so seasonal.

Laura33

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Yeah, I'm sorry, BTDT, this sucks, no two ways about it.  You can do it, it just means organization and flexibility, which is of course very hard with littles.  My advice:

1.  Declutter.  Then declutter again.  Then declutter again, including pantry, fridge, closets, etc. -- everything has to look more spacious than it really is.  We went through like 4 rounds before our realtor said it looked appropriate.  And we are not exactly hoarders; literally, I had left one corner of the family room as a designated play area, with a play mat, toy box, and one riding toy, which I thought would show families what a good floor plan it was.  But our realtor said even that was too much and we should re-stage that area with a comfy chair and lamp.  By round 4, I thought the place looked ridiculously sterile and empty, but the feedback we got improved dramatically, and the place sold within a week of our final decluttering effort. 

Side note:  we ended up selling to another family with young kids.  Apparently, even families with kids want the fantasy that their house will not look like kids live in it. 

2.  Get out of the house when you have visitors.  If you can schedule around naps, great.  If not, ask the realtor to always give you at least an hour's notice and drive around if you have to while your kids nap in the car.

3.  To facilitate 2, always have a "go" bag by the door with snacks, diapers, toys, books, sunscreen -- anything you might need to be out and about with the kiddos for an hour or two.  Replenish the bag first thing when you get home. 

4.  Pick up while you go.  Yes, I know, awesome theory, but in real life it slides.  It can't slide when you're trying to sell the house.  On the plus side, you will have far, far fewer things to pick up, because you've done such an awesome job on step 1.  :-)

YMMV, of course -- if you're in a hot market, you may not need to do all this stuff.  Then again, a house is a huge investment, and even in a hot market, wouldn't you rather be selling that one perfect house that everyone wants to buy?

rubybeth

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As someone who is looking to buy, I have a couple of tips of what I like to see in listings:

1) A lived-in home is fine. Obvious piles of crap/clutter on the floor/tables/countertops not so good. So put things in baskets, bins, etc. or hide them away during the photo shoot.

2) If you can, have your realtor's photographer do a 3D photo tour of your whole house. I absolutely LOVE these, since it lets me "walk" around the whole house before going to see it. I believe it's this company that has the cameras, but definitely find a photographer who can do this. These listings go really fast in my area: https://matterport.com/

3) Do an open house the week you put it on the market, like within a couple days (like, list it on a Thursday or Friday, open house on Saturday or Sunday). People may wait to schedule a showing if they can see it at an open house without their realtor. This way, you decide when to be out of the house. More people see a house during an open house vs. just individual showings.

Linea_Norway

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We sold our previous house almost two years ago. We had a few announced viewings. Those are OK. We, two adults, chose to be present very much in the background. This because we had a house with some technicalities and we could answer the people better than the broker. But you should pull back and let people view the house at there own pace. As sale was very slow, we had an extra 3 viewings per week, for months. This was just terrible. In the beginning we were still living there and had to clean all the time. Having a child into this would be a disaster. The broker would always ask me before making such an appointment and let us do it ourselves. This is very time consuming.
We had a bad broker. After becoming desperate, we actually switched broker to a better one. Also had to lower the price to attract a new group of buyers. That worked. Find a broker with a good reputation and make sure you have the right person, not just the right company. For the toddler during viewings, I would just take him/her for a walk with pram outside. Viewings don't need to take more than an hour, do they?
Eventually we moved to our new house during the last viewings. That was a very good thing. Much easier to keep a house clean when you are not living in it. We also had arranged that we could store a lot of stuff at the new house. This way we could seriously declutter the old house. So please start by selling/donating/throwing away stuff that you don't want to bring along on your trip out of state. Better do it before the viewing than afterwards. Put the rest of what is too much in storage for a while.

lthenderson

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We sold our house with two young children. It sucked but it wasn't the worst thing I've done. We decluttered by renting a storage unit and boxing up anything we could live without for a couple months.  Kept a travel bag handy for those short notice tours. We asked for an hour notice but it didn't always work out. At the time our youngest was sleeping multiple times a day, i.e. very young, but weren't too hard to move if she was asleep. She generally fell right back asleep. If I knew we would be going before she was asleep, we put her to bed in their car seat which we then carefully snapped into the base unit in the car so she never woke up.

While the showings were going on, we were fortunate to have a park just up the street. If the weather was bad, we frequented a McDonald's play land for our oldest one. We liked the park because we could see the people leaving and go back right away versus waiting for an hour before heading back.

We sold our house right at the bottom of the housing bubble collapse so it was on the market for awhile. With all the clutter gone though it was easy to touch up paint without having to move much. When we closed on our new house, we left about half our furniture in the old house until it sold. It meant eating supper in lawn chairs around a card table for a few weeks but it was worth it in the end.

Linea_Norway

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About the storage unit. My colleague told me he put a lot of stuff in there when moving. And after a year of moving in, he still didn't feel the need to collect the stuff and threw it all away. Therefore my thought is to removing as much as possible before putting it in storage and only store what you want to keep.
In our house we had boxes full of stuff that were also not needed for a year. We should have removed them before moving.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 11:04:34 AM by Linda_Norway »

Goldielocks

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I did this once, and it was not fun.  We did not go aggressive on the house price, as we needed to keep the weeks of showings to a minimum, and we accepted a good offer without too much negotiation because of the hassle of showings, too.

We had people show up 2-3 hours after their appointment time, while I was giving the toddler a bath.  !  I had to just close the bathroom door while they took a look.  They did not stay long because people in the home are hard to ignore.

My hindsight suggestions
-- declutter and live with just the stuff you would take on vacation.  So much easier to tidy quickly.  Put the rest in boxes in your garage.

--Hire a housekeeper to clean 1-2x per week.  Yup 2x per week.  You will spend all your (non-existent free) time on prepping grab and go food together (for that sudden showing where you go to the park for a dinner picnic without prior planning), and in keeping kids happy, and in the pickup of things.   Cleaner to keep the place groomed.  It is very hard to live in a picked up home 100% of the time with small kids.


But -- only do the "empty house" route, if you have a hot market.  What happens if the buyer wants 2 months to close?  You end up with two mortgages!

Learner

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We listed our last place with 3 year-old twins and a newborn.  Good times.

The main things we did have already been covered above - rent a storage unit and ask for a min time before a showing.  We had one showing requested about 30 min in advance one time, but by then we had had some practice and just made it.

On the rapid clean-up, two things that worked well for us were a Rubbermaid tote to chuck any toys/clutter and clear priorities.  We would blitz around the house quickly to get the bulk in the bin, and then touch-ups (wiping down table / walls / ceiling (it's amazing how much a determined toddler can launch up to the ceiling)) while one of us got the kids in the van.  Park or play place were normal destinations.

MandalayVA

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When I was house hunting in March, I rejected an otherwise really nice townhouse in a fantastic neighborhood due to the huge amount of little kid clutter and dirt in it.  I was borderline amazed at how much this family managed to cram into the garage as well (and that was little kid clutter too).  I just checked for the hell of it and the place is still on the market after four months, not good in a hot market like Orlando.

Mgmny

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If your housing market is anything like Minneapolis,i don't think anyone will care what your house looks like, and the prices are largely determined by comps in the area, so staging is probably over-stressed and less important than you think.

mrsnamemustache

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Thanks everyone for the input. It was very helpful. We've decided to stay put while the house is on the market. We will majorly de-clutter and use the strategies you all suggest to make it manageable. It will definitely only be for one month (since we have to book a moving truck well in advance), so I think we can do it. We are in a hot housing market, but we have a large transmission tower in our back yard so I know we have a smaller pool of buyers than the typical house in the area, so I want to give us every advantage I can (while not overspending on things that won't provide an advantage...which is hard to know).

Linea_Norway

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We invested in some cheap articles that made the house more homely, like flowers pots in the garden, a wooden heart on the door, a new door mat. A good first impression is important.

TrMama

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BTDT x2. We sold a house when I was 6 months pregnant and our oldest was 1.5 and then again when our kids were 1.5 and 3.5. It was not fun, but it also wasn't the worst thing we've done.

Get your realtor to pay for home staging. It's super cheap compared to what they'll make on the commission. If you need help decluttering or repair projects, also ask for them to pay for someone to come help you. Don't be proud.

Our best home stager left me with a "Pre-show Hit List". It was a list of all the things I should do just before a showing. It had things like remove bath mats, take out garbage, make beds, etc on it. I'd get whatever I could done with the toddler(s) in the house then go strap the toddler(s) into her carseat or stroller and return to the house to do the last of the pickup. This prevented the toddler tornado from pulling things onto the floor behind my back while I cleaned something else up.

The first thing to do is to box up all but a few toys. Your kid won't miss them and it'll give you fewer things to clean up each day.

Aggie1999

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Is it common for a realtor to cover staging as part of the 3% seller's commission? How does staging work when you are still living in the home? I would assume the staging company does not want people "using" the furniture. My house is fixing to go on the market. I'm a single guy with a 2000 sqft house so the furnishing are pretty sparse and not that nice. Wondering if staging is worth it.

mrsnamemustache

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Quote
Is it common for a realtor to cover staging as part of the 3% seller's commission? How does staging work when you are still living in the home? I would assume the staging company does not want people "using" the furniture. My house is fixing to go on the market. I'm a single guy with a 2000 sqft house so the furnishing are pretty sparse and not that nice. Wondering if staging is worth it.

Aggie1999, I'm not an expert on this but have formed some opinions thinking about it the last many months. I think staging can be worth it. Most (non-moustachian) people make a decision to buy a house based on an emotional response that is mostly drive by aesthetics. There are different levels of staging, from diy staging (de-cluttering, moving some furniture, painting), to mid-cost professional consultation/staging (bringing in art, getting recommendations on paint colors) to total professional staging (bringing in furniture). I think total staging will cost many thousands of dollars. But, if your place needs it, it may be worth it. The DIY stuff should almost always be done. In my market, most places seems to stage, so houses without staging just aren't as appealing to buyers.

I don't think it is typical for realtors to pay for staging, though maybe it depends on region? It would eat up a lot of their commission. Ours is paying for a paint consultation from a stager, but that is it. We interviewed another realtor who had some of her own staging stuff that she would not have charged us to use.

I think the question also becomes different depending on what you are comparing staging to, i.e., staged house vs. empty house or a staged house vs. cluttered house with ugly furniture.

Hopefully someone with more experience than me can weigh in, as this is a topic I've become very interested in.

TrMama

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We've sold, with staging, twice. It's not the same as the staging you see on HGTV. IME the stager comes in and give you a hit list of, "Do this, not that" with respect to repairs, minor updates, decluttering etc. Getting a third party's perspective on what really needs to be done was very helpful, especially when you're short on time. It's really hard to view your own home objectively and we often fixate on things that "need" to be done before listing while ignoring more obvious things.

One stager then brought in her own artwork, plants, etc to fill in our spartan house. She then picked her items up after we had an offer. She was also the one who gave me the pre-show to do list.

A different stager (different house) just told me what decor things to add to make it look better.

Both stagers charged <$500. Commissions were 5 figures, so the cost is negligible.

It's not common for realtors to offer staging, but if you ask few will turn you down. Especially in the case of the OP where the house will definitely be sold. She's not just putting it on the market to see what she can get for it. For her realtor the commission is a sure thing so it makes sense to invest a little to get it sold.