Selling a House with Kids
Many of us imagine the perfect home for kids to grow up in, envisioning family time or holidays in that “dream house” you will find, but it’s important to keep in mind what a big process moving is. Sometimes kids will inspire your house sale, but kids’ needs can also inspire you to stay put.
Sell or Stay?
The size of your family and the sizes of your kids can be reasons to sell. If you have just added a child, or plan to soon, it might be time to find a bigger house with adequate bedrooms and play space, before everyone is on top of each other. If you have kids close in age who are about to become teenagers, moving may allow them the physical and personal space that preserves family harmony and ensures everyone has a bathroom on busy mornings. Or maybe your house is fine for your family, and you postpone the dream house so you don’t disrupt their schooling, activities, or friendships. These things can matter a lot more than the ideal home.
Parents need to consider their budgets and priorities to decide if they can afford to move. It involves more money than just the price of the new house, including repairs/upgrades on the house you’re selling, closing costs, the realtor’s and movers’ fees, and items for the new house. Not to mention capital gains tax, higher utility bills or property taxes to come, and even plane fare to get back for visits.
You need to crunch the numbers carefully. Do you have enough cushion in the bank if your circumstances change suddenly? Will kids have to sacrifice important activities or getting that dog? If a house is good enough, parents may decide saving as much as possible for college(s) takes priority, and wait until they become “empty nesters” to put the For Sale sign up.
The Green Light
If you decide that selling and moving are great ideas, and they can be, consider what role each child can play in the logistics of the sale. Some kids want to be involved, especially if you model an excited, positive attitude. They might wish to help declutter, clean, or even stage the house, depending on age and ability. But they may find too much involvement overwhelming: handling the changes that come with a house sale is enough stress for some kids.
A good project for younger ones is to be in charge of supplies for vacating when an Open House or house showing pops onto the schedule. Make sure they understand what will happen, and why the family needs to be elsewhere. Let them think up fun things to do for those times, and then let them be in charge of fetching pre-packed snacks, drinks, and toys, and of rounding up the pets. Older kids can be enlisted for daily and “last minute before the showing” quick cleaning tasks, so everyone feels like part of the team.
Since today’s Open House ideas often involve themes or party-type atmospheres, to make a house really stand out, it’s especially important for kids not to be underfoot. If you have to help with these preparations before you leave, enlist family and friends to be on-call for hosting kids and pets. Finding the right balance between getting them involved and getting them out of the house is the way to sell with kids!