Having your house on the market while you’re still living in it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s how to prep your home for last minute real-estate showings.

last minute house showing

The for sale sign is in the front yard, and you’ve boxed half of your belongings to stage your home to look its best. Now the waiting game begins, wondering if each new family to walk through your home will turn into an irresistible offer above asking price.

However, you might realize that having your house on the market while you’re living in it can be terribly inconvenient. Sometimes realtors give you barely any notice to make your house show-worthy, which can be stress-inducing.

Following a few simple steps will help a last-minute house showing seem like no big deal, partially because your home will already be somewhat in order. These tips will help you leave your home in the best condition possible before any unexpected house showing.

Why Last Minute Showings Matter

prep your home for a house showing

You should never refuse a showing, regardless of how little time they give you. Even if your house is a msess, you don’t feel well, or the kids are acting up, resisting a showing could mean a loss of a sale.

It might seem obvious, but any home showing has the potential to lead to a sale. With dozens of houses on the market at any given time, real estate agents urge their clients not to let potential buyers move onto the next house. This flexibility with timing is especially important if it’s a buyer’s market.

Remember, it’s better for buyers to see a messy home than no home at all. That said, there are ways to save time and take care of the essentials when showing a home with little to no notice.

Preparing for a Home Showing in Advance

how to prep a house for sale

The best approach to a last-minute home showing is to be prepared for it before the call comes. Even if you have kids whose playing style may resemble a miniature tornado, you can do a few things beyond home staging that make last-minute clean up easier.

 Create a morning ritual.

  • As soon as you get up for the day, make all of the beds. Next, open all of the curtains and blinds in the house. This will shave at least 10 minutes or more off of your tidy-up time when a house showing call comes in.
  • While artificial scents could cause a problem for potential buyers that may be sensitive to smells, it’s better to have a pleasant smell than the aroma that accompanies teenage boys or animals. Diffusers or warmers with mild, long-lasting scents are the best. Turn them on first thing in the morning so that the aroma becomes more natural to the home and less potent than when first turned on.

Maintain clean habits.

  • Assuming you did a deep clean right before putting the house on the market, all you’ll need to do from there is maintain your home. Set yourself a weekly cleaning schedule with a cleaning task each day to stay on top of it.
  • Get in the habit of cleaning as you cook. That way, your kitchen doesn’t become an unmanageable problem area for a last minute showing. Also, wipe up spills when they happen rather than waiting.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor regularly to make mopping much easier. Remember, the kitchen is an important area for potential buyers and should be at its best at all times.

Know where you’ll go.

  • Create a plan for what you will do when a call comes in. Do you need to have a babysitter on hand for the kids? Can someone else help you or let you hang at their place for the showing? Let them know that they could be getting a last-minute call.

Last Minute House Showing Checklist

house showing checklist

When you receive that last minute call for a showing, don’t panic—you’re already mostly there from your morning prep time. A few quick tasks will give your home that extra charm that could seal the deal.

Keep empty totes handy.

  • Always keep an empty tote or two easily accessible. When the call comes, the first thing you should do is load up the totes with the clutter that has accumulated on the table, the counters, and any other clutter-catching places.
  • Use another empty tote to collect any kid or pet toys that have been left out.
  • Hide obvious signs of pets (food dishes, litter box, etc.) for potential buyers who may not be animal lovers. Some of these items may be best in the trunk of your car instead of inside a tote.
  • Conceal the totes in a spacious closet or attic with easy access. Consider taking the totes with you when you leave if there isn’t space to tuck them away.

Do some quick cleaning.

  • Remove all dirty dishes from the sink and wipe the sink down.
  • Remove all shoes and coats from the entry so that no one trips over them.
  • Do a last minute walkthrough to make sure any lingering clutter and personal items have been removed.

Store what you can.

One of the easiest ways to turn off potential buyers during a home showing is to present a cluttered, overly personalized space. Running out of room and need a solution fast? If you’re looking for a temporary place to stash away some of your belongings, consider renting a storage unit. Putting some of your items in self storage now may even help you get a jump on decluttering before the big move. Rent a drive-up storage unit to make it even easier, or consider moving extra vehicles to storage to really show off your space.

Prepping your home for a showing is relatively simple. All you need to do is tackle your morning ritual, maintain good cleaning habits, and hide the clutter. Hopefully, once you implement this system, you’ll find those last minute showings to be less stressful.

Read Next: 21 Important Things to Do Before Selling Your Home

Have any other last minute house showing tips we missed? Let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 07/29/2014 and was revised on 1/11/2019 to provide new information.

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at and Martha Stewart.

Pin It on Pinterest