A seller's nightmare: keeping your home clean, tidy and ready to show
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

It's a common lament of sellers this time of year: "How much longer do we have to keep this house in showing shape? It's driving us crazy! It's like we can't even live in our own home."

Don't fear. It'll be well worth the effort--which you'll realize when you get the check from the proceeds of the sale in your hands. But in the meantime, here are some tips to make things go more smoothly and help you maintain your sanity.

First, make the house as easy-maintenance as possible. This means removing anything that's non-essential from rooms, shelves and--especially--walkways through the house. The less there is, the less there is to maintain. This applies especially to any collections or memorabilia you have on display. You certainly don't want prospective buyers' eyes to stray from viewing your home. So box up non-essentials in preparation for moving.

Second, delegate chores to each member of the household. Yes, you may get some initial resistance here. But be sure to remind family members what they stand to gain (like a larger bedroom in the new house) in return for their contributions now. Make a checklist of the essential "to do" items before a showing. For example, if you're notified at 10 a.m. about a noon showing, what are the minimum activities that need to be done? They could include a quick flick of the broom across the kitchen floor, a vacuum of the entry hall carpet, and a double-check that dirty dishes are neatly tucked away in the dishwasher rather than sitting in the sink. Think of it as triage used in medical emergencies. What can you do that will have the biggest impact in the shortest period of time?

What if you get a call to show the house and it looks like a hurricane just hit the living room? Do the best you can, but always allow the house to be shown. If a buyer is truly interested in the house, she'll be willing to look beyond a little clutter. The watchwords for showing your home should be patience, simplicity and organization. That buyer could be just around the corner!