Open House Tips for Buyers and Sellers (with Kids)

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People often ask about strategies for preparing for an open house when they have kids. It's a situation one we manage all the time, and here are a few tips I like to share with both seller and buyer clients. 

For Sellers

  1. Move out.

  2. But seriously - if it's not physically or financially feasible to move out of your home while you're trying to sell it (and it's not for most people!) move almost all of your stuff out. The storage units at Westy's in Chatham are expensive, but they are temperature-controlled, and you will definitely recoup your investment once you show and sell your mostly clutter-free home. If you can't move every bit of evidence of children and/or every last LOL Doll out of your living space, give each child a basket to stash a few of their favorite toys, and put the rest in storage bins that are out of sight of potential buyers. This Hunger Games-style approach to cleaning out extraneous items help you (and your kids) realize what you can live with -- and what you can live without. 

  3. Keep your home as clean as possible - try to live like you're camping in your own house. And make sure your home smells fresh and welcoming. Believe it or not, smell is almost more important than anything else when selling a home - studies show that people can recall a specific scent even better than any visual cues. The smell of lemon is nice, and so is vanilla. Just make sure that whatever scent you choose is pleasant, fresh, uncomplicated and clean. 

For Buyers

  1. Bring your kids to the open house - we love seeing them. A lot of realtors are parents and most of us really do love kids. In fact, dragging your kids to an open house is a pretty clear signal that you're a serious buyer, and we love that.

  2. Watch your kids - and if you want to get a closer look at the house, ask the realtor if you can leave them in their line of sight. I never mind helping keep kids occupied - again, it's a sign that the adults are really interested in the home, and I love to help. Just make sure to set basic rules ahead of entering a home-- like no jumping on beds (it's happened lots of times). We hate having to discipline someone else's kids. 

  3. Bring stuff to keep your kids busy. It could be an iPad or a book or a small game, like Kanoodle. I try to have pretty basic and homemade coloring books and $1 boxes of Crayola crayons handy for kids who need something to occupy them. 

Have any other ideas or tips and tricks for open houses for buyers or sellers? Leave them here. 

Meghan Mullin is a Madison mom, realtor and writer. She has an uncanny ability to pull quarters from her clients' kids' ears and keeps Honest juiceboxes in her car for marathon home showing sessions and area tours. You can reach her at 973-845-8375 or