Showing your home can be a drag, what with strangers wandering through at inopportune times and you having to vacate on a moment’s whim. And, of course, having to keep it clean. Yep, every time you leave, you can feel like you should toss your dishes in the dishwasher, pick up your errant shoes, and fluff those pillows just in case your agent has a hot prospect.

It’s no fun to live in a house that’s for sale, but here are 6 tips that should make the process a little less onerous.

1. Clear out the clutter

It’s easier to keep it clean when there’s less in the house. Your agent will likely recommend “staging” your home, and a key part of that is packing, storing, or donating excess stuff. This one step can make all your showings easier.

2. Get in the clean habit

Yes, the house should be spotless for showings, so try to minimize messes and dirt. That means leaving shoes at the front door, clearing off counters, and stowing coats, bags, and backpacks when you come in.

3. Lock stuff up

You never know who might come trolling through your house, so get in the habit of keeping personal items locked up.

Things to pay special attention to are:

  • Prescriptions
  • Jewelry
  • Electronics / mobile devices
  • Checks
  • Credit cards
  • Mail
  • Computers (make sure to put an extra strong password on any devices you can’t move)

Depending on how much stuff you have, you might want to designate one closet or cabinet as the “safe place” and then make a habit of storing stuff and taking the key when you leave. To avoid forgetting something at the last minute, keep these items stored in the designated spot at all times. Alternatively, you can simply deploy a tote or basket to stash tablets and other items and then take it with you when you leave.

You might also want to move art and collectibles that are either valuable or sentimental out of the home during your de-cluttering process so you don’t have to worry about them.

4. Engage the kids

Yes, they can help too by keeping their personal areas neat. Once you’ve purged their rooms (you’ll thank us when it’s packing time!), make sure they have a place for everything. Have them get used to putting their clean laundry in the drawer rather than on the floor (what a concept!). They can also practice keeping their trash cans empty and bringing dishes to the kitchen. Bonus: they might even carry these habits with them to the new house (parents can dream!)

5. Set the mood

Make your home as welcoming as possible for your guests by playing soft music, adjusting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature (yes, even if no one’s there!), and leaving some lights on to greet them.

6. Create a “showtime” checklist

Worried you’ll forget something as you race out the door? It happens. But to help prevent it, create a checklist that includes all of the above to improve your chances of remembering.

Worried you missed other important tips from our “How to Sell Your Home” series? Check them out here: 6 surprising things ruining your home’s resale value, how to stage your home like a pro, what to fix before selling your home, and how a realtor chooses your home price.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.