Open House: The Sellers’ Guide

 

Open houses increase both foot traffic inside a home and online activity on that home (assuming your real estate agent is marketing properly and effectively).  There are many who would argue that open houses are less than effective for selling a home, but they, at the very least, spread the word that your home is for sale.  There are a few things you can do to make sure that, after your open house, attendees are talking about it.

 

 

 

 

Curb Appeal: Impress Immediately



You want to be sure that the first impression that those coming to your Open House have is a solid and positive one.  The best way to do that is to make sure that your home has great curb appeal.  “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is a cliché that certainly rings true here.  Clean siding, tidy and trim lawn and landscaping, no clutter, simple decorations, upkeep, and some accents of chic style and color can do a world of good.  In the warmer months, focus on healthy, neat, and bright landscaping to draw eyes to your home; during the colder months, ensure that your home’s exterior is lit extremely well, keep your pathways clear, and clean the outside of your home and landscaping before the treacherous weather of winter hits.  To see a more definitive list of ways to boost your home’s curb appeal, click here.

 

 

Lock Your Valuables

 

We’d all like to expect the best of people, but that doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen.  Be sure that any valuables you have are safely locked away before your open house.  Any money, important documents, banking information, jewelry, guns, and anything else dangerous or of value should be in a secure location before you vacate the home for an open house.  This is the most important thing you should do for a successful open house, because finding an interested Buyer won’t seem quite as important if some of your valuables have come up missing since that day.

 

 

Light it Right

 

 

This is something that sellers should be doing every time there is a showing at their home, as well as when their marketing photographs are taken.  Turn on all the lights in the house.  Well-lit homes appear bigger and leave a more positive, lasting impression on visitors.  No one enjoys picturing themselves living in a dark or poorly-lit home.  This is important to be done at all times of the year, but becomes especially true in the colder months of the year when the days are shorter and there is less natural light flowing into the home than during the summer months.  Be sure that the exterior of your home is well-lit as well, as that will impact the first impression visitors get from your home.

 

Installing brighter lightbulbs can go quite a long way in how well your home is lit.  This is a fairly cheap project to take on prior to an open house, and it could prove to be incredibly effective in how people feel walking through your home.

 

Clean all windows and change dark window treatments, because you should be trying to let in every bit of natural light that you possibly can.  Sheers are fine, because they filter out very little of the natural light, but any heavier curtains should be taken down and replaced with sheers.  If you can’t replace them with sheers, the best thing to do is take them down all together, rather than let them block the light from entering your home.

  


De-Clutter

 


 

If you are planning on living in your home at the same time that your home will be listed for sale, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider consolidating some of your belongings, and possibly even renting a storage unit.  Too much furniture or clutter in a home doesn’t just make your rooms appear smaller, it also distracts the potential buyers, and they will end up focusing more on the stuff than the home itself.  That is something that should be avoided at all costs.  Here are some specific things you can do to help simplify your home before listing it or hosting an open house:

 

Take everything off your refrigerator:  Take all pictures and magnets off of your refrigerator and give the outside (and inside- some buyers DO look!) a good cleaning!

 

Simplify your decorations:  Opt for decorating that is simple and chic, despite whether that fits into your style or not.  Too many decorations are distracting to potential buyers, but a simplified decorating style can help suggest the decorating potential of the home to buyers who may lack the vision to see the home has to offer.

 

Remove any unnecessary furniture from your home:  Consider putting your excess furniture in a storage unit so that your rooms appear larger.

 

Tuck away garbage cans:  Garbage containers can clutter a room since they often sit in the middle of a room.  If their presence in the room during the open house is unnecessary, consider tucking them away under a cabinet or in a pantry.

 

Clean and organize all closets:  Closet space is incredibly important to many buyers, and you can help yours look more spacious by cleaning them out and organizing them.  Consider packing away unnecessary clothes, purchasing closet organizers, and purging closet contents prior to your open house.  Space utilization can make a small space a lot more appealing to buyers.

 

Consider storing area rugs:  While area rugs can be so beautiful, they can actually make a room look smaller.  Furthermore, if they are laid over wood flooring, you’d be much better off letting the hardwood show instead.  This is an important talking point for almost all buyers, so showing off your hardwood can be a really great idea!

 

 

Air It Out

 


 

This may seem like a silly thing to suggest, especially during the winter months, but it is, nevertheless, an effective suggestion.  Homeowners tend to get used to the smells in their homes, but visitors can immediately smell them.  Even if you don’t own pets, you should open the windows in your home for at least thirty minutes the morning of your Open House, but make sure that you leave enough time for your home to warm back up.  And, while on the topic of the temperature in your home, there is an ideal temperature for showings and open houses.  During the winter, 70-72 are the proper temperatures, and during the summer, 70 is appropriate.

 

 

Remove Personal Items from Your Home

 


 

Before your open house, remove the pictures and portraits of your family and friends, and other personal items that may be distracting or speak more to your personality than others.  For instance, sports teams decorations, family portraits, and anything that could be considered offensive or inappropriate to others.  This also goes along with the idea of simplifying your decorations, and as a suggested replacement for some of those decorations that you take down, consider installing mirrors instead.  Mirrors give the illusion of expansion, making your room feel bigger than it is, and they also reflect light, making your rooms brighter.

 


Kitchen and Bathrooms Should Shine!

 

 

The two rooms that, above all others, should be sparkling clean and fresh are the kitchen and bathrooms.  Other rooms in your home get messy and dusty, but the kitchen and bathrooms get dirty.  They need the most attention from you, for two main reasons.  For one, a Buyer wants to feel like they are buying a home with a kitchen or bathroom that has never been used.  There should be no trace of past residents left over in ether room, because that means that there is germy evidence of your stay in that home.  For another, these rooms get more dirty than other rooms in the house, and that is in the back of every buyer’s mind who comes to your open house.  Counter that notion with a sparkling clean space that will make them feel like, if they Buy your home, they will be coming into a seemingly brand new place.  Be sure that all countertops are clear in the kitchen and the bathrooms.  Put everything in a drawer, cabinet, or tuck them away in a storage basket out of sight.  Remember to close the toilet lids before your open house, as well!

 

 

Set the Table

 


 

For the dining area in your home, consider setting the table with simple and chic place settings.  This helps buyers see themselves entertaining or even sitting down to dinner by themselves.  A fork and knife, linen napkin, and even one dinner plate per place would suffice.  Top off your staged dining room with a bundle of fresh flowers in a vase on the table for a really beautiful setting.

 

 

Deep Clean

 

 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it still needs to be mentioned: Clean your home very well before your open house.  Dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, de-clutter, wash windows and mirrors, and attend to anything that needs attention.  Steam cleaning your carpets is never a bad idea, but it is especially suggested if you have kids or pets.

 

If you find stains or marks on any of your walls as you are cleaning, a great tool to help remedy them is the Magic Eraser.  A little bit of water and a magic eraser can work wonders on stained walls!  Don’t underestimate the effect small messes, like wall stains, can have on the impression buyers get from your home.

 

 

Make Yourself Scarce

 


 

Having the homeowners present at an open house (or any showing, for that matter) can make buyers feel awkward and pressured.  It’s important that you vacate your home during an open house, so that buyers can walk through without feeling like there is something to be expected of them, allowing them to get a clear and precise impression of your home.

 

 

Remove Pet Supplies

 

 

Just as the owners should vacate the home for the open house, so should their pets.  Not everyone likes pets, and no matter how often you wash your pets, there is still a strong chance that someone who is not used to the smell of pets in their home will be able to smell pet odor.  This is even more likely if your pets are still in the home!  Be sure that you tuck away any pet toys, beds, and accessories before your open house as well.

 

 

Finish Any Projects You’ve Begun

 


 

If you have started any projects around your house and left them unfinished, be sure that they are finished before your open house.  Seeing half-finished work at an open house is a red flag to some buyers that your home will have repairs that were done with shoddy workmanship.  This will also be a talking point of your home after they leave, and wouldn’t you rather them be talking about some of the good things about your home?

 

 

Do Your Share of Marketing

 


 

Your real estate agent, if you’ve picked a good one, will be advertising your open house on social media before the event takes place.  If you aren’t already doing so, follow their page, so that you may see the posts they make pertaining to your listing.  When you come across their open house advertisement for your home, share it to your own page, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to share it, as well.  This can get the advertisement out to hundreds or thousands more people, increasing the probability that you will have a good turn-out for your open house.  You never know, one of those family members or friends may just know someone who is looking for a house, and it could be a match!

 


There are many things to consider before hosting an open house in your home.  The most important thing to consider is what you would want to see if you were looking for a home.  If you keep that in mind, everything should fall into place.  If you’d like to see further references for selling or showing your home, check out The Linda Frierdich Group’s Pinterest page, Go Team Linda, and be sure to follow the board “Help for Sellers.”