By Kris Louis

On top of all the other daily responsibilities you have as parents — getting everybody up and out to school, making sure homework is done, having meals together, getting to doctor appointments, and so much more — you have also decided to put your home up for sale. So, now you need to worry about making — and keeping — your home presentable while also trying to have a normal family life. That might be hard to do, especially when your youngest decides to make a peanut-butter-and-grape-jelly sandwich 30 minutes before you need to leave so that the house can be shown — and leaves a mess behind.

Your goal, of course, is to get the most you can out of the sale of your home, which might be challenging since you are trying to live in it while it is up for sale and being shown. And that means constantly cleaning up daily messes and picking up clutter while also keeping up with the daily schedule of school, work, and activity. To keep your home clean and clutter free while you’re also trying to sell it, try these three tips.

Check Out the Competition

When you decide you want (or need) to sell your home, first go online to research houses similar to yours in terms of size and value. Homes in Poulsbo, Washington, for example, have sold for a median price of $393,900, so that gives you a price range to shoot for, plus you can also determine what buyers are expecting. As you research a property listing, examine the pictures to see how the rooms look; you’ll notice whether they are clean, clutter-free, and staged appropriately. Think of these pictures as models for yours. Just remember that the lived-in look won’t sell your home.

Get the Whole Family Involved

Since everyone in the family is busy with work or school, cleaning and decluttering the house needs to be a team effort, and you might be able to extend that effort to your new home when you move in. Make a plan to go through each room to clean it thoroughly, and that includes cleaning the carpet or rugs. Brett Martin of Popular Mechanics suggests, among other things, that you “start at the top of a room and work your way to the bottom.” The children should be responsible for cleaning and decluttering their own rooms (with some supervision). There are many guidelines for decluttering the rooms in your home, one of which is the 20/20 rule: if you can replace something for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes, then it should be donated to a thrift store or thrown away. The point is, as you declutter, you are actually reducing the amount of stuff you’ll need to pack.

Getting the family involved will definitely help out when it’s time to stage your home for last-minute showings. When you only have a handful of minutes to ensure that the interior is in tip-top shape, getting everyone on board will make things go much quicker. For example, open curtains to let some light in (or turn on lights if the showing is at night), tidy up the kitchen and the bathroom, and keep your nose on the lookout for any offensive odors. Plus, if you stay on top of your cleaning, you won’t have as much to worry about!

Don’t Forget the Outside

Your house needs to have curb appeal in order to attract the attention of potential buyers. Part of preparing your home for sale, therefore, is keeping the yard mowed and trimmed during the warm-weather months and the leaves raked during the autumn. Also, pay very close attention to the foliage around the front of the house. Trim back any long branches on trees and shrubs, put down new mulch around their roots, and make sure the gutters are cleared of any leaves or other obstructions.

Once your home is cleaned and decluttered, ensure it stays that way. Keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean, and if you children get toys out, insist that they be put back before bed.

You want your house to be showcase ready when a potential buyer comes through, and you want to get as much as you can from the sale. Even though you’re busy, you and your family can work together to make that happen by keeping the house clean and decluttered.

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