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Frugal Homeowner®



Design a Triage Plan When Showing Your House

QUESTION:  Our house has been listed for two months and the situation is really wearing thin.  Every time an agent calls to show the house, we race around to get things cleaned up and put away.  Needless to say, the entire family is in a constant state of chaos.  Any suggestions on how we can streamline things until this is over and the house is sold?---GN

ANSWER:  Yours is a common sellers’ lament especially this time of year:  "How much longer do we have to keep this house in showing shape? It's driving us crazy! It's like we can't even live in our own home."  And it’s compounded by the fact that the kids are out of school and wanting to enjoy their vacation and summer activities.

Don't fear. It will be well worth the effort which you'll realize when you get the sales proceeds check in your hands. But in the meantime, here are some tips to make things run more smoothly and help your household maintain its sanity.

First, make the house as easy-maintenance as possible. This means removing anything that's non-essential from rooms, shelves and especially walkways and stairwells throughout the house. The less there is, the less there is to maintain. This applies especially to any collections or memorabilia you have on display. You certainly don't want prospective buyers' eyes straying from viewing your home, fixated on your collections.  So box up non-essentials in preparation for moving and store them in the garage, storage shed, or basement area. Make sure to label them correctly so that you don’t have to reopen the boxes prior to your move.

Second, delegate chores to each member of the household. Yes, you may get some initial resistance here. But be sure to remind family members what they stand to gain (like a larger bedroom in the new house) in return for their contributions now. Make a checklist of the essential "to do" items before a showing. For example, if you're notified at 10 a.m. about a noon showing, what are the minimum activities that need to be done? They could include a quick flick of the broom across the kitchen floor, a vacuum of the entry hall carpet, and double-check that dirty dishes are neatly tucked away in the dishwasher rather than sitting in the sink. Think of it as triage used in medical emergencies. What can you do that will have the biggest impact in the shortest period of time?

What if you get a call to show the house and it looks like a hurricane just hit the living room? Do the best you can, but always allow the house to be shown. To deny a prospective buyer a showing is not in your or the potential buyer’s best interest.  If a buyer is truly interested in the house, she'll be willing to look beyond a little clutter.

The watchwords for showing your home should be patience, simplicity and organization. Map out a cleaning/showing gameplan that each family member can participate in and make sure that you stay the course until the house is sold and closed.  And remember, that buyer could be right around the corner!


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