Monday, January 5, 2015

5 Tips For Listing a Property With Young Children from a Realtor's PERSONAL Experience...

This photo was taken of Reed and Parker 12 years ago on the day that we moved into our current house. The boys were 1 and 3 at the time.


Our property was listed mid-week.  We had already closed on our new house but were not ready to move in as we were renovating.   I assumed that we wouldn't have activity until the weekend upon listing- BIG mistake.   We received a call that evening at 8PM from a fellow agent - her client was desperate to get into our house IMMEDIATELY. 

Great news though the reality?  Toys were scattered, the boys were asleep in bed, the kitchen was a mess from dinner, and Steve and I were exhausted and in our pajamas.  Slightly disgruntled, actually VERY disgruntled, we quickly picked up the house and pulled the boys out of bed- the worst nightmare of a parent of TWO toddlers.  The Buyer sat at our dining room table until Midnight that evening, writing a contract. In the meantime, we sat in a booth at Steak-n-Shake with 2 VERY tired and cranky boys until he was done, 3 hours later.

Was it frustrating? YES!  Was the next day at work exhausting?  YES!  Were the boys a nightmare the following morning after disturbed sleep?  YES!  Was it worth the quick and full price offer/sale? ABSOLUTELY.

The fact is, we closed on that property a month later, and we never once regretted those 3 miserable late-night hours at Steak-n-Shake with our uber crabby toddlers.

Moral of the story: when you finally decide to list, and that listing goes live in the MLS system, the goal is to sell.  Period.  You do what it takes.  You must be prepared for every possible inconvenience, as it is crucial that you make a conscious effort to accommodate EVERY Buyer! 

You don't want to pass on any appointment, as you never know how motivated the buyer behind that appointment is.  It is likely, as happened in our case, after that one inconvenient showing... you may never have to work around one AGAIN as the house will be sold.

Over my 13+ years in this industry, I have met dozens of homeowners, in desperate need of more space, choose not to move after all due to the inconvenience of caring for young children through the process.  I get it.  Trust me, I SO get it.  Listing a property and moving is exhausting in and of itself.  Throw in nap schedules, crumbs, legos, milk spills, and dirty diapers...a whole other ballgame, people.  I understand.  I talk-the-talk, because I have walked-the-walk, per above.

The key to listing a property with young children is preparation.  You must develop a game plan and follow it.  You must focus on the light at the end of the tunnel- 1,3,6 months down the road- and how much it will be worth it!

My best advice from my own personal experience and my work with the dozens of Seller parents I have represented...

1) Rent a small storage unit and FILL IT to the MAX.

Families with young children have STUFF, and a lot of it.  Realistically, your children can do without much of it for a few months.  We rented a 5X5 storage unit (walk-in closet size- approximately $40/month) and filled it to the ceiling: train table, Little People sets, lego table, Lincoln logs, etc.  The fact is, the boys didn't really miss the items.  We left them numerous toys to play with, just not as much.  The less toys they have, the less mess they make, the easier it is for you to keep up with. Period.

2) Designate one area in your home for toys. 

A toy room, a corner of the basement, or their bedroom ala...

Organize that space so every toy has a home and only fill it with what fits.  Realistically , those with young children typically live with toys everywhere- I get it.  When listing, however, toys in the dining room, living room, and kitchen dictate NOT ENOUGH SPACE .  Wrong message to send to a potential Buyer. If toying with selling or donating kiddie items- the time is NOW.  Scale down the items and give every toy a home.  That is the KEY. 

3) Purchase two empty laundry baskets for "stuff collection" ONLY, and leave them by the front door. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures, people. When the call comes: "We will be there in an hour"... this is no time to dawdle.  Grab the baskets and start scooping in the random toys, blankies, shoes, wipe containers, and binkies.  Pop it in the car with you and you are on your way.  You can deal with properly putting away the items when you arrive back home.

4) Get out of the house and take advantage of the local goodies and happenings.  

We are blessed- there are a million things to do inexpensively with children in St. Louis.  Pick up the house in the morning and enjoy a day out at the Magic House, pool, the Zoo, or Grandma's house if you know that numerous showings are likely or scheduled for that day.

Embrace free story time at the library, lunch at the park, and a lazy afternoon at a movie.  Your house will thank you!

5) Price your property correctly to ensure a quick and profitable sale.

The most important advice, hands down: price strategically and thoughtfully.  Simply, if a property is priced correctly in this market... it will sell fast and at top dollar. Thoroughly prepare your property, price it competitively according to the comps, and as a result... only have the inconvenience of showings for a short period of time.  The key.

PS- Listing a property with teenagers (my boys now at 13 and 15)?

Not any cleaner- same rules apply.  Ha ha!

Need advice or looking for a Realtor in St. Louis?  I would love to help!
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