Handling Showings When You Have Small Children

Handling Showings When You Have Small Children

Dear Dave,

We are preparing to put our house on the market in the next month or so and I need some advice. I have two small children and...can you guess where I might be going with this? We need to sell our home, but we also need to still live in it! I think our home is in an area that is going to attract buyers with their own kids, but I am just worried that I will get a call and have to be out of the house in 20 minutes. What are the main things to do if we get a really short notice about a showing?

I would appreciate any advice you might have for how best to handle showings and small children.

Thank you!

Jill and Danny


Jill and Danny,

This is a woman’s question!  I am going out on a limb here and guess that Danny is not the one who penned this question. Guys ask questions like, "what do we do if they call for a showing during the Bronco game?" or, "Do I really need to keep the garage clean?" Women are forward thinkers and this is just one more proof positive. Trying to sell your home and juggle a family with two small children can be difficult under the best of circumstances, however, trying to juggle your family’s life and still accommodate showings on short notice can be nearly impossible and often prove very frustrating. One thing to remember when establishing the showing instructions for your home is that you set the parameters and it is your Realtor’s job to enforce them.

As a real estate agent, I realize that although you are trying to sell your home, you and your family are still living there. It is important that you maintain your house as your home and keep the showing interruptions at a tolerable and family-friendly level. You want to make your home as available as possible, but you don’t want it so available that it turns into a big frustration and becomes stressful on the family. I am of the opinion that to accommodate every showing is not completely necessary. My recommendation would be to request a one-hour showing window and that notice is given about the showing at least four hours in advance. You can also add to the showing instructions that you would prefer 24-hour notice, if possible. Keep in mind, that if the timing of the showing doesn’t work great, you can also offer another time that is preferable and more convenient for you. It is likely that they will be able to shift their showing time to accommodate your needs, especially if you give them a couple of options. The most important part of the process is to make sure that the ground rules are clear and that the ground rules you set are enforced. One other note, ease the showing burden by making sure you’re showing instructions spell out times that it would be best to have no showings. If the kids go to bed at seven, then saying no showings after 6:30. This type of parameter will often remove those showing requests that prove the most untimely and frustrating.

Although you always want to be prepared for a showing, most buyers are more forgiving than you think. If a buyer understands that you have a couple small children, they are likely to be very forgiving for an unmade bed or toys that are not picked up off the floor etc.

Although you always want to be prepared for a showing, most buyers are more forgiving than you think. If a buyer understands that you have a couple small children, they are likely to be very forgiving for an unmade bed or toys that are not picked up off the floor etc. It might help to make one of the rooms a toy room while you are showing your home and have the kids help with keeping toys in the toy room. Keeping your home consistently clean while showing will help ease the stress for sure. Do the dishes as you use them, make the bed right when you get up in the morning, put your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on your favorite chair when you take them off. Remember, little things add up to big things and doing the little things consistently will make a big difference when getting ready for showings. 

Let’s be honest, showing your house to strangers is not going to be fun under any circumstance, but setting realistic expectations for the showings will make your life much more enjoyable as you go through the process of selling. I have no doubt you’re going to do great because you’re ahead of the curve by thinking of these things now. Hope this helps.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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