Buying and Selling a Home With Kids

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Entering the real estate market is a monumental undertaking. Buying and selling with kids can feel insurmountable. Last Thanksgiving, my husband and I made the decision to put our first home up for sale. Our one-year-old daughter had tested the limits of our baby-proofing, and it was clear we needed a more family-friendly home. We knew it was going to be a giant undertaking, and decided to start prepping early for a spring sale. We didn’t anticipate the global pandemic, which made for an even crazier real estate market. Despite all the headaches, the joy we feel in our new home is worth every bit of moving stress.

Whether your new baby has made it clear your first house was actually a starter home, or your teenagers are outgrowing your living space faster than their clothes, there are certain steps you can take to make buying and selling with kids easier.

Finding the Right Realtor

Hiring a realtor who understands your day-to-day life is one of the most helpful things you can do before listing your house for sale. When you begin your initial search, pay attention to who your neighbors are using to sell their houses, ask friends and family for referrals, and search for local realtors on real estate sites like Realtor or Zillow.

Interviewing potential relators is a helpful way to find the perfect agent for your family. Make a list of questions ahead of time about everything from their sales history to what you can do to add value to your home before listing. Having an HGTV-style list of “must haves” for your new house will also help them understand what you are looking for. The more honest you can be about your situation, the more successful your partnership will be. How fast do you want to sell your home? Can you handle two mortgages or should you sell first? How much time do you need to move?

I was extremely nervous about moving with a one-year-old. By being upfront with realtors about my concerns, I was able to determine who had a realistic view of how to keep a house clean for showings and who thought we could pack away all the toys and pretend like no children existed in the house. (Spoiler alert: we went with the first candidate.) Remember—your realtor works for you, but in order to do that, they have to get to know the real you.

Tackle the Honey-Do List

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to take a look at those “someday” house projects you always meant to accomplish. Think strategically: what will increase the value of your house when it hits the market? A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to update a room, and landscaping is always worth the investment.

When we made the decision to sell, my husband and I gave ourselves the winter to get our list accomplished. With a one-year-old toddling around, we had to be realistic about what we could actually get done. We split the tasks evenly and focused on small projects that would give us a bigger return on investment. We spent many nights after our daughter was asleep fixing door handles, painting trim, and updating lighting fixtures.

Buying and Selling with Kids MVP

Laundry baskets will be your best friends when you are trying to buy and sell your house with kids. Yep, laundry baskets. Buy extra. Toys need to be packed away for staging your house? Use a laundry basket in the living room to store toys that are most frequently played with. The remaining toys get organized at the very least, or packed in moving boxes in the garage. When you have a showing, throw the laundry basket full of toys in the back of your car and your house will look clean and ready for buyers. We used laundry baskets by the front door as well to easily hide diaper bags, shoes, coats, and any other clutter that can deter potential buyers.

Ease the Transition for Your Kids

Buying and selling a house with children can be a bonding experience if you get them involved in the process. Read books and watch TV shows with episodes about moving. Visit your new neighborhood and any nearby parks or playgrounds before moving in. Have them pick out a special rug or lamp for their new room. Get their input on paint colors.

If you are able to, work with your realtor to negotiate an overlap between the two houses. We had possession of both houses for two weeks which made the transition easier for our daughter. We visited our new house almost every day. She learned the layout of the new home and we began leaving toys in her new room. On move-in day, we made sure to have her room 100% set up by the time she went to bed that night. Having all of her possessions in her room, in a house she was already familiar with, made for an easy bedtime for two exhausted parents (who still had to build their own bed).

Moving is always stressful, but I hope these tips make it a little easier!

If you happen to be buying or selling during the holidays, we suggest reading 3 Ways to Make the Holidays Easier for Kids and Moms.

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