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What I Learned Listing My Own Home for Sale

Krissy Berger

Past, Present and Future Professionalism Before choosing to become a Realtor more than 10 years ago, I spent over five years negotiating contracts for...

Past, Present and Future Professionalism Before choosing to become a Realtor more than 10 years ago, I spent over five years negotiating contracts for...

Oct 7 8 minutes read

Getting your home ready to sell while your family still lives there…

The process of prepping your home for the market can be a bit daunting on its own. Throw in a couple of kids, a less than tidy spouse and a rambunctious dog and it can be a downright CHORE! Here’s a little inside look into my own experience and some tips to making it a little easier on everyone, especially you.


I bet we’ve all had that similar experience of walking through a model home and just drooling over not only the style of it but how it just felt simplified and clutter free. Of course it did because no one actually lived there. If you have a family at home you know that your days of simplified, clutter free living are long gone. While I did spend a couple of days going through our things and weeding out what could be donated, discarded (broken toys, etc.) or just stowed away, I also made use of some spare cabinet space to hide some items I may find myself needing but weren’t essential to our everyday. So, if you’re house-hunting do the owners a favor and don’t open the closet doors or cupboards incase a wall of hidden stuff should come tumbling down on you! Ha! Bottom line, don’t go too crazy and put extra pressure on yourself to get totally organized before you list. A clean “look” doesn’t have to mean back breaking long hours of sorting and organizing.

Honey-Do List: 

Because our homes tend to show the wear and tear of our lives there are bound to be some projects you’ll need to do before you're ready to offer it for sale. ALWAYS consult your Realtor prior to starting these projects to make sure you’re not spending unnecessary time and money on things not having a positive impact on the value and marketability of your home. A good Agent will be prepared with information on your competition (Comps) and advise your projects based on how you stack up. For us, our Honey-Do’s were mostly interior; like touch-up paint, washing the walls where little hands have seemingly had a magnetic attraction, a deep cleaning of all the bathrooms, windows, and then a final dusting and vacuuming before the photographer arrived to take our listing photos. Our biggest project was filling in the backyard with fresh bark since it had either faded or been blown away by the wind (we live in a very windy area). That took quite a bit of effort, as my husband will testify to, but made our yard look crisp and vibrant. Please refrain from asking how many times we’ve had to tidy it all up again after our two boys and their furry accomplice have driven their power wheels through it or tromped through it chasing after a ball. Aye aye aye!


The final preparation and maybe the most important, is the way your home will show. You’ve heard the saying “you only have one chance to make a good first impression”? The statement your home makes to prospective buyers when they come to view it is paramount to their interest level and whether they can envision themselves there. Your best bet is to keep things neutral and as clutter free as possible. If you painted a room flamingo pink because it reminds you of your vacation to the Florida Keys you’d be best off heading to the hardware store to snag a gallon of beige (or something easy on the eyes) and a roller. Now that’s not to say color is all together bad but the gist is make sure it’s not so bold and different that the first thought to a buyer is “Great, now I have to hire a painter or do some DIY.” Another tip would be to make sure you don’t have every part of your wall covered with stuff. I’ve heard it said that you should remove all traces of personal photos and I don’t necessarily agree with that thought. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable with a stranger seeing some of the photos/art on your walls then by all means – down they go. At our house I mostly focused my energies on de-cluttering and added some simple accessories to freshen up a couple of spaces. A new accent rug in the boys bathroom with coordinating towels, a couple new indoor plants and, my favorite, new pendant lights above our kitchen table. Your Realtor can always give you some input in regards to where things might need to be pared down or perhaps some things added. He or She will have referrals to stagers who can come in and spruce and/or add some interest with accessories and décor.


So, you’ve gone through all the steps above and now you are ready to go “LIVE” on the MLS! Yippee!! It’ll be accompanied by Open Houses, Agent Tour and of course showings where the Buyer’s will come with their Agents at other agreed upon times. As if the home prep process wasn’t hard enough now you have to somehow manage to KEEP your house looking like it did when your listing photos were taken! My advice? Don’t sweat it too much! While personally I have had my moments of exasperation over the undoing of all my hard work getting our home ready to show, life still goes on. You’ll want to make sure you and your Realtor address how showings will be conducted, how much notice is required and any other special circumstances that might need to be considered. For us we are asking for all showings to be scheduled with me since I’m more able to get the kids and the dog out of the house. That way prospective buyers can come with their agents without the distraction of my two toddlers and the hot mess of a pup we call Toby. Not to mention it’ll help me know exactly how much time I have to clean up!

Now granted, we have in general a slower market where we are. If you’re reading this and you live in an area where the market is highly competitive and your phone would be ringing off the hook, don’t write me off. The good and bad of your situation is that it will be crazy for a bit (bad) but you’ll likely get into contract quickly thanks to the hot market (good) and you’ll only be subject to the calls and showings for a short time. Bottom line, do your best without driving yourself and the rest of your family nuts. Life is lived in our homes and a buyer who is digging your house isn’t going to be swayed by the crumbs on your kitchen floor or the toothpaste splatters on the mirror.

Selling your home is be bittersweet. You think about the memories you’ve made and reminisce but then the excitement of the next chapter of life takes over and you’re ready to move on. Not all moves are that cut and dry obviously since not all reasons for a move are ideal. Whatever your situation is do your best to consider these tips and put them into practice for your sale. We are definitely experiencing some of the sadness that comes from leaving a space that holds memories of our young kids growing from babies to full-fledged mini men but we are absolutely ready to find our next home and continue building upon those memories!

If you are considering selling your home, please contact me! I’d love the opportunity to interview and earn your business. I have been selling homes for over 12yrs and have helped countless clients through the process I’ve described above. All the best!

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