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Showing Your House While Still Living in It: Always Show-Ready

Posted by Justin Havre on Tuesday, July 18th, 2023 at 8:15am.

How to Prepare for a Home ShowingWhen day-to-day life is already hectic with the demands of life, work, and home, the thought of listing a City Centre house for sale and trying to keep it ready for showing can get sellers to start panicking. It can be even trickier if you're still living in your house because you have to balance keeping it ready for an open house or showing while making sure you still have what you need.

If you want to sell your home and have found yourself procrastinating because of these concerns, the following three tips can help you keep every room ready for showing while staying sane in the process.

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Declutter & Stage Your Home From the Start

The math is simple - keeping a tidy home is far easier when there is no clutter. This is why it makes very good sense to give yourself an advantage from the start by sorting and disposing of all unneeded or unwanted items in your home before it goes on the market. To do this without creating unnecessary stress, set small goals and work on removing clutter in one room or area for a half-hour or hour every day using a three-container system.

  • the first container should be a trash bag for any item that is broken or badly worn
  • the second container should be a box or bag for items that are gently worn but no longer wanted or needed such as clothing, shoes, books, personal care items, housewares, linens, etc. that are suitable for donation
  • the third container should be a box or bag for items that do not belong in the space you are organizing and need to be returned to their proper place elsewhere in the home

When the session is over for the day, make sure:

  • the first container is immediately taken out to the garbage can
  • the second container is emptied into a box in the trunk of your car to be dropped off each week to a local charitable organization in your area
  • the third container is distributed among the rightful owners of the items with instructions to put them away in their proper places

By immediately removing items that do not belong, you are instantly creating more open space in your home, which will be far simpler to keep clean and neat. Here are a few tips for cleaning a house effectively.

  • Ridding each room in the home of any item that is outgrown, broken, or no longer used or wanted by family members
  • Storing excess or out-of-season clothing — use a storage unit if necessary
  • Packing away any item that will not be needed until after the home is sold and the family has purchased and moved into their next home
  • Renting off-site storage to house excess furnishings and the boxes of filled with excess items from the home

Remember that sparsely furnished and decorated rooms will not only be easier to keep clean; they will also appear more spacious and that is very attractive to buyers.

Stage the Home

Don't stop at just decluttering — to truly maximize the potential of your space, make sure to stage your homeFocus on the furniture arrangements and décor pieces in each room. Make sure there is still plenty of seating for guests while ensuring all walkways are clear. Arrange artwork and small decorations tastefully throughout the home, using neutral colors and patterns to appeal to the most buyers. 

Home staging is a key step of the home-selling process, and even provides benefits for when you're still living in the home. It helps keep clutter from piling up, encourages better organization, and keeps it comfortable without turning away potential buyers. Staged homes can create an environment where people feel welcomed and want to picture themselves living in it.

Keeping the House Clean for Showings

Keeping your home squeaky clean, well-organized, and welcoming for every prospective buyer to view can pay off with a faster home sale and better offers, so sellers should never feel guilty about choosing convenience whenever they can. Some examples of choosing convenience to help keep the home in showing condition during the hectic summer seasons include:

  • Scheduling professional cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis to save time or help with deep cleaning tasks
  • Using disposable plates and cups to make meal time clean up faster on days or evenings when showings are scheduled
  • Having the lawn professionally maintained to make sure it is always appealing to buyers from the curb
  • Enrolling kids in day camps and other activities outside the home to reduce household cleaning chores and make sure the home is able to be viewed easily
  • Choosing to take dinner guests out to eat instead of hosting them at your home to eliminate extra kitchen cleaning chores while the house is listed for sale

Involve the Household in Cleaning Chores

Household members are perfect recruits to help with daily and weekly cleaning chores to make sure your home is ready for a showing. To make sure that every family member knows what is expected of them, consider making a weekly chore chart listing all tasks and who is assigned to do them.

To make chores more fun, remember to assign them based on age and ability and to rotate tasks frequently. In addition, setting a timer for ten minutes a couple times each day and joining the kids in a "race" to tidy up until the buzzer sounds will help make cleaning feel more like fun and less like work.

By eliminating clutter and enlisting the help of everyone in the house, your home really can become show-ready without creating unnecessary stress. For even more great ideas for helping your home show well, ask your real estate agent to view your home and offer additional suggestions, if needed.

Limit Meals and Snacks to the Kitchen Table

A big part of keeping the home clean and ready to show involves making fewer messes that have to be cleaned up. Since eating meals or snacking on the couch, in bedrooms, or on the floor in front of the television means picking up dirty dishes, wiping up spills, and vacuuming up crumbs, consider making a rule that all snacks and meals will be eaten at the kitchen table while the home is on the market. If possible, take this rule one step further by making it mandatory for all family members to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher and wipe the kitchen table and counters clean when they finish eating.

Zone Defense

Once you have gotten rid of messy clutter, it will be time to implement a good zone defense to keep your home looking neat and clean. To do this, you will need to enlist the help of everyone in the house and then divide the necessary tasks into brief tasks that each person will be responsible for doing each day. Some suggestions for this include:

  • floor zone: keep stray items picked up off the floor and placed in a conveniently located basket
  • surface zone: wipe surfaces each day with a soft cloth, such as counters, table tops, and appliance fronts
  • laundry zone: gather soiled laundry each day and place it in a hamper or closet in the laundry room (this member can also be tasked with running a load of laundry, as needed)
  • dish zone: load and unload the dishwasher and keep the sinks wiped clean
  • bath zone: wipe down surfaces in the bathroom(s) each day and ensuring these areas stay clean and neat
  • floor zone: vacuum, sweep or run a dust mop as needed to keep the home looking clean and neat

Make a zone defense chart and allow those in the house switch zones frequently to ensure that the work is evenly distributed and to help to prevent boredom. In addition to the above zones, consider making each person responsible for making their bed and ensuring their bedroom is always ready for the next showing.

Add a Countdown Round

Adding a countdown round to your housekeeping routine will ensure that your home gets a last-minute spruce-up immediately before each showing. Institute a plan where everyone spends 15 minutes before prospective buyers arrive doing last-minute cleaning and freshening tasks, such as:

  • wiping fingerprints, spills or crumbs off surfaces
  • picking up any items that have been left out such as toys, snack items, or school bags
  • fluffing up couch pillows and straightening throws
  • opening blinds and turning on lights and turning off TVs and electronics
  • making sure the porch is swept and the entry area to the home is clean and neat

A Guide to Showing Etiquette

How to Show Your Home CorrectlyShowing etiquette is not something a lot of home sellers think about, but it can be a very important way to help buyers love the house they are looking at. With a few etiquette tips, it can be easier for sellers and buyers to come together and agree on a contract, which benefits both of them in the long run. In order to make sure you have the best chance of selling a home quickly and efficiently, even in competitive markets like Northwest Calgary, there are some specific tips to be followed.

Always Say "Yes" to a Showing

If your real estate agent calls about a potential buyer wanting a showing, always say "yes" if all possible — you never know which one might be the one to buy your home in the end! Even if it isn't ideal timing for you, it's important to be accommodating and welcoming. After all, you aren't the only one with a schedule. For all you know, the buyer only has one availability for seeing the property.

Take Pride in Your Neighbourhood

When it comes to showing your house, there are a lot of ways to make buyers more interested. Even if it is a great house, though, the neighbourhood matters. Sellers who take pride in their neighbourhood and work to keep it looking nice can help with showings because they care about more than just their own home. Homeowners want to be able to look at their neighbourhood and enjoy living there, and buyers are going to take note of how all potential new homes look, not just limited to the property line. Having pride in the area where they live comes through, and buyers often appreciate seeing that.

Keep Things Cleaned Up and Picked Up

Showing a home is usually done on a schedule, but there can also be times when it needs to be done at the last minute. By keeping things picked up all the time, unless those things are actively being used, sellers can make their homes appealing to buyers in ways that are simple yet very effective and important. While it is not necessary to put every single thing away all the time, having cluttered counters and tables or kid's toys all over the floor can stop buyers from being as interested in your house because they end up being distracted by mess.

Keep Any Pets Out Of the Way

Not everyone loves pets, and even when buyers are fine with cats, dogs, and other animals in the house or yard, it can still be a distraction. For buyers who are allergic, it can be a serious problem and it may deter them from buying the house. Good showing etiquette means a seller should either send pets to stay with a neighbour or family member, or otherwise keep any animals caged or crated. Also ensure that litter boxes, food dishes, and any other animal-based needs or items are kept clean and out of the way.

The more a seller reduces the obvious realisation that they have pets in the house, the better it will be for them when it comes to pleasing the largest number of buyers. Some buyers may be put off by pets because they assume a home with pets is inherently damaged or dirty, even if there's nothing to confirm it.

Make Sure the House Smells Good

It is not necessary to bake cookies or a pie every time someone is coming to see the home, but it should smell good inside the house as much as possible. If there are odd smells, buyers may not be as interested in buying the home. Sellers can reduce problems with smells by keeping everything clean, but there are also other easy ways of freshening up a home so it smells good before buyers come to see it. Here are some ideas:

  • Buy an air purifier.
  • Put a small amount of vanilla in the oven and turn it on to replicate the smell of baked goods.
  • Make a stove simmer by simmering a pot of water with lemon slices and herbs.
  • Make sure the trash is taken out.
  • Clean the garbage disposal.

Having a home that smells fresh and clean can be a good way of showing buyers that the homeowners care about the state of their home, which can help ensure them of the home's condition. It's also an easy way to help your home stand out from the rest on the market.

Find Somewhere Else To Be During Showings

It is generally not a good idea for the seller to be in the house during showings. It can make the buyer uncomfortable, and can leave them feeling like they really cannot look around as much as they would like to, like they are being pressured to leave so the homeowners can go back to their lives. It can also make buyers feel like they are unable to speak freely about the home in case the owners hear them saying negative things, even if they're valid concerns.

By leaving the house during the showing, you allow the buyer to explore the home and really get a feel for what it would be like to live there. It is the polite thing to do, and can help get the home sold faster and more easily. It's a perfect opportunity to run some errands, or maybe even make a day trip out of it.

Above all else, don't forget to be courteous throughout the entire process. If you have any interactions with the potential buyer, be sure to be polite and answer questions honestly. This will impress buyers and help them envision themselves in the space in a positive light!

You Can Sell Your House While Still Living in It

Living in your home while showing it can be a challenge, but with the right approach you can make it work. By following these tips, you will be able to show and sell your house while still living in it. With some creativity and effort, you'll be able to make sure potential buyers fall in love with your space!

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