Selling Your House (whilst trying to stay sane)

The realities of preparing your home for a potential buyer viewing

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Three weeks ago we decided to put our house on the market. We have lived here for 12 years and our children have grown up in this little corner of the world. We love our home and over the years have put time and effort into creating what we think is a comfortable, cosy, family space.

For the past year or so however, we have been talking about moving to a slightly more rural area, which would make our love of spending time outdoors a little more accessible. We currently live in a town, albeit a small town, but a town nontheless. I yearn for the peace of the countryside and the tranquility of village life…or perhaps middle age is upon me and being within walking distance of every possible amenity just isn’t a priority anymore. Our children are growing and we are forever changed – and that’s a good thing. Our youngest daughter will be starting secondary school in September and so we felt that if we are going to go, now would be a good time. So, after much deliberation and countless ‘family meetings’, financial spreadsheets, discussions with the mortgage broker etc, the decision was made and here we are. Time for a new adventure.

One thing I hadn’t accounted for when we decided to embark on this journey was the potential obsessive behaviour that I seemed to have developed; I get notifications from ‘Rightmove’, but that’s not enough for me, oh no – I have to check the website approximately every 30 mins, just incase! I also check individual Estate Agents websites, even though they all post their properties on ‘Rightmove’, but you know, just incase…

I have also put a post on the local Facebook ‘sell and seek’ pages of the areas we’d like to buy in; people keep referring me to properties on ‘Rightmove’.  I am dreaming about each and every property we have visited so far, all of which don’t quite hit the mark, but that doesn’t stop me conducting an interior overhaul in my mind – I know exactly what furniture I want and where it will go and how I could adapt my choices for different types of property. I know where I will source this furniture from and it’s cost…We haven’t even sold our house yet and I’m exhausted!

No one wants to come and look around a property with a family sat watching your every move, and a dog sniffing round your nether regions, right!?

Almost three weeks in and we have had 3 viewings so far and another tomorrow. I decided to do a bit of research about ‘selling your home’. Thank you internet for providing so many top tips on what to do to make your home as appealing/saleable as possible. Top of the list was the exclusion of all family members and pets during viewings; actually, top of the list was to never conduct viewings of your own home, but to reduce costs we have decided to ignore this advice and hope that my charismatic personality and winning smile (oh dear, what am I saying…) will sell this gaff – Wish me luck! Anyway, back to getting rid of kids and pets, this seemed simple enough, no one wants to come and look around a property with a family sat watching your every move, and a dog sniffing round your nether regions, right!? As a wife and mother of six (three actual human children and three furry ones) this wasn’t as easy as I’d first thought. Yesterday saw the weather take a bit of a wild turn and the guilt was well and truly kicking in as I turfed my husband and kids out into a blizzard to ‘walk the dogs’ whilst shouting  ‘do not under any circumstances come back until I ring you…I’ve got a house to sell!’. I apologised later.

I am generally a rather tidy/clean person anyway, so keeping the house up to ‘viewing’ standard I thought would be a doddle. Wrong again! Crikey blimey, if my children are doing anything but hovering over the floor, I can feel my stress levels rise – I even suggested to my husband that we should go and have tea at Asda cafe (classy or what!) so as to avoid the house smelling of ‘food’. He pointed out how ridiculous that was and I too quickly saw the idiocy of my suggestion – thankfully. Later however, I could feel my hackles rise as my husband began to prepare curry for tea…curry!! Of all the food smells that linger, it’s curry. Fast forward to the next morning and all windows/doors are open whilst the blizzards continue and I’m razzing around with a bottle of Mr Sheen like a woman possessed! I wonder if I have time to bake a quick loaf (I’ve never baked a loaf before, by the way) or brew a pot of freshly ground coffee (even I could manage that)? I’m pretty sure I can still smell that curry as I type this…

Other top house selling tips I came across included ‘spruce up and declutter’ – as my children rightly pointed out ‘I don’t think that means you need to put ALL of our clothes, coats and shoes in the boot of the car mum’. Fair point. Other problems this (decluttering) has caused – not being able to find the dogs food bowls, wearing the same pair of jeans for a week because I have packed all of my clothes into bin bags and put them in the boot of my car – I don’t know why I’ve done this as I have clothes draws, but somehow, knowing those draws are half empty makes me feel better and that I have suitably spruced up the house. I still can’t find my youngest daughters lunchbox for school…

Other (preemptive) sprucing includes rushing out to buy daffodils for every room in the house, incase we get a viewing. We got our first viewing on the day the daffs died, so I rushed out an hour before viewing to buy more daffs which were all closed up so I got tulips instead.

I once read that when you sell a property, you’re ‘not just selling a house, you’re selling a lifestyle.’ I can’t decide if this is a genius statement or if it makes me feel like I’m drowning in a sea of pretentiousness. That said, I found myself considering whether to leave a few magazines casually scattered on the coffee table in the lounge. A few back issues of ‘The New Yorker’ perhaps? Nothing says satire, commentary, essays and criticism like ‘The New Yorker’ – Hmmm, too much…I put them away. What about ‘Interior design Magazine’, ‘Living Magazine’, a copy of Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’? In the end I settled for a candle and vase of wilting tulips.

Hiding every last remnant of family life in the boot of my car, although tempting, is also impractical and really quite stupid.

So here I am, writing this the night before viewing number 4, wondering how many viewings it will take before we get an offer (I have Googled this to attempt to find an answer of some sort…I am non the wiser) and silently hoping that my girls sleep without moving tonight so as not to mess up their fresh sheets and perfectly made beds.

As I think back over the events of the last three weeks and reflect upon my behaviour regarding the sale of our home, I start to laugh – quite hysterically as it happens. This, like so few events in my life, is a totally unpredictable situation. I mean, even Google can’t help me now…only the universe knows how many viewings it will take before we get an offer.

I will endeavour to keep the house looking at it’s best whilst people come to look around, but spending half an hour musing over which way the vase of tulips should be facing is probably not going to have any impact on someone wanting to buy my house. And, hiding every last remnant of family life in the boot of my car, although tempting, is also impractical and really quite stupid. Our home is tidy and clean, but me and my family also exist and we need to exist in this space until the right person comes a long – I hope that ‘the right’ person/family can see that the walls here are full of the memories of growing children, a developing marriage, so much happiness, lots of sadness and everything in between. This house is real and because of that, I will miss it very much.

So I keep saying to my naturally impatient self, ‘patience is a virtue’ in an attempt to stay sane…wish me luck!

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    • I realised later that I had left the Dawkins book out on the bedroom table by accident – hope they don’t think I placed it there on purpose!! #facepalm


    • Thanks Lisa – I know i’m not the first or will be the last to experience this level of super high alert house sale madness! One thing I have learned is that once we have moved we are NEVER moving again! 😉


  • Love this, I would be exactly the same! And you didn’t even blame your sister for making country life look so beautiful. The only tip I have is potted plants will last a bit longer than fresh flowers but I am sure your lovely home will be snapped up in no time.

    • Thanks Dom!

      Hoping to totally getting some ‘sister points’ for not pointing the finger…

      Potted plants – genius! Although (sadly) I am one of those people who manages to kill plants that pertain to be unkillable (is that a word?), but it’s worth a go!!


  • Hilarious.. but now Spring is officially here you should get more interest and I predict that you will experience an enthusiastic post Easter surge of curiosity.. for some reason many people view houses at this time of year.. Good luck and here’s hoping for a ‘right move’!

  • I love this, we have sold our house and complete in two weeks (whilst on honeymoon, but that’s another long story!). I don’t think viewers will ever know just how long you’ve spent ensuring your Home looks like an unlived in Show House!
    Best of Luck with your viewers tomorrow Camilla (I’ve heard baking cookies helps too) 🙂

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