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How Can I Keep My Home Show-Ready?

Keep clutter at bay with these tips from three experts.

A mom, a real estate agent, and a professional organizer weigh in on how to maintain a showing-ready appearance in the home you’re selling, while living in it with your family.


“Your home is now a product. It needs to be tidy, clutter-free, and clean to attract the maximum number of buyers. Keep bathroom cabinets as empty as you can, putting items in a caddy to hide under your sink. Leave the floor of every closet and pantry clear to give a sense of space. Pack away most toys in clear bins. Don’t change children’s rooms too much because moving is stressful enough. Do take down name plates or other identifying items for safety reasons. Be kind to yourself—leaving a toilet paper roll in the waste can, a bath toy in the tub, or a sock on the floor isn’t going to make or break a sale.

Go away for the first weekend your house is up for sale. In this market, one weekend of showings without turning away any qualified buyers is worth going under contract quickly.”

–Meg Farina, real estate agent, Coldwell Banker Realty


“Do an extensive decluttering and organizing process before the home goes on the market. Pretend it’s no longer your home and you’re preparing it for the future owner. Pack up as much as possible that will go to the next home, donate items that will not. The less stuff in the home, the easier it can be maintained in a show-ready state. Take everything off the fridge and take down family photos to prevent a prospective buyer from judging you and the worth of your home based on the items in it.

Fifteen minutes each morning and evening spent putting things away and cleaning the kitchen is essential. Give the kids incentives for donating things they no longer want or need. Forcing them to get rid of things isn’t necessary. Box up items and deal with them at the next house—no need to make selling your home even more stressful.”

–Angela Cody-Rouget, founder of Major Organizers


“We ate simple meals that wouldn’t cause the house to smell and used a mild fragrance that sprayed on schedule to keep it smelling fresh. I had a cleaning kit and vacuum available to clean crumbs and spills quickly before running out. We lived out of one bedroom, a bathroom, and kitchen to minimize the amount of straightening up before leaving. Counters were kept as bare as possible and water drops on fixtures or shower doors were wiped immediately. Toys were maintained in a box, and clothes were kept in a hamper or the laundry room.”

–Carol Mendrygal, mother of kids ages four and six, Denver

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