How to Prepare for an Open House

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If you are ready to put your home on the market, your real estate agent may ask if you'd like to have an Open House to help market the property.  I would highly recommend to say, YES!  Let your agent show your home to promote it to potential buyers.  An open house is a great way to stand out from other homes in the area that are for sale.  Yes, you may attract a few nosey neighbors, but hey you are moving anyway so don't let them stop you.  See you may also attract neighbors who know someone that want to move into the neighborhood or you can find highly motivated buyers who have been searching online for a home to see.  No matter who shows up, getting the BUZZ generating about your home, is a great way to help it sell quickly and for the best price.

Now that you agreed to have an open house, here are a few pointers to prepare your home for success.

1.  Declutter

   You want your home to look as clean and clutter free as possible.  Less "stuff" will make your home look larger and roomier.  Walk into every room and look around.  Do you have tables, dressers with a lot of knickknacks or photos, reduce it to have more space.  Maybe toss a few of the things on top into a drawer for now.  Look at the kitchen counters, is it loaded with "extra" appliances like an Instant Pot, toaster, lots of cookbooks?  Clean those out of the way so a potential buyer can see a clean kitchen with lots of counter space for cooking with their family.  Have beds made and since we are in the bedroom, now is a time to clear those closest.  If you have cloths that don't fit, stained... don't pack them.  Toss them out or donate them now.  Have a pile of boxes that are stacked up, again, look through them and see if they can be cleared out as much as possible.  Remember, people want lots of closet space for their stuff, but they don't want to see an overstuffed closet.  That only makes it appear there isn't enough "space" in the home.     

   If you feel your home is cluttered, maybe ask a friend if you can store a few things in their garage or even a small rental space to clear out the home as much as you can for staging.  Sometimes lots of furniture or oversized furniture can make spaces look smaller, again, taking time to remove some of these things now can help a potential buyer see their stuff in the home.  

   Not sure how to "stage" your home to sell best?  Ask for their opinion or if they have a referral to a home stager who can help.

2.  Clean 

   Now that everything is cleared of clutter, look around again.  What might need a little deeper cleaning?  Check the closest for dust bunnies now that they are cleared out.  Look at the bathrooms and see if they are clean in hidden corners that might now bother you, but someone else might see.  Do you need to get someone to clean carpets professionally?  

3.  Outside Space

   Great, you cleared and cleaned the inside.  Now walk around the home outside.  Does the landscaping need to be trimmed, the lawn mowed?  Is the deck/patio area cleaned.  Do you need to spend anytime cleaning up the yard of kids toys?    People want a move in ready home, make sure your landscaping looks like it has been maintained and doesn't need a lot of major upkeep now.

4.  Paint

   Have you moved furniture around?  When you walk through, do you see paint chips/scratches?  If you have stand out or bright colored walls, a good fresh coat of paint will go a long way.  Use neutral colors like grey or beiges.  Have old or outdated wallpaper, consider taking that down too.  Painting can be done with a little time and effort on your part, or call in a someone.  They can bring a crew in who can often paint an entire house in a few days or less.  A fresh paint job will make the home look bright and fresh and mean less work for the potential buyer to have it "move in ready."  An investment of repainting goes a long way to selling a home.

5.  Pets / Kids 

   I love my dogs, but I know they need to be removed from the property during an open house.  Even when showing, your realtor can discuss how to allow enough time for you to remove the pets from the home before someone comes to look at it.  Pets are a distraction.  Also, many pets don't like strangers in the home, so for everyones safety (including theirs) it is best to remove them.  

   Kids are the same way, when you have people coming through the home to see it at an open house or showing, it is best to take everyone and go out for ice cream or visit a family or friend for a little while.  

   Remember pets and kids are always making a mess (in my house we have dog toys and dog hair all the time).  Make sure your schedule includes time to straighten up in the morning so if a potential buyer wants to walk through the home, they don't see toys everywhere.  You want to do your best to keep your home clutter free and clean, not just for the open house.

6.  Protect Valuables

   Remove all values like jewelry, money or collectables from sight.  Definitely hide them away so someone walking through won't see them.  If their value is enough, consider removing them from the property if needed.   One side note, if you have guns (hunting, self protection), please also keep them well locked away and out of sight.  You never know when a family with a curious little kid goes exploring.  Its also a "hot topic" in today's political world, and we don't want someone not willing to buy a home for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual home.  

7.  Talk About Your Home

   If your home is on the market or has an open house schedule, talk about it and promote it.  Ask your agent if they have flyers you can hand out at work, to friends.  Can you share on Facebook and other social media.  Your real estate agent will be marketing your home too, but it never hurts to tell people you know that your home is for sale and to reach out to your agent to buy it.  The more people that "see" your home, the faster it will sell.

8.  Finger Foods

   Having an open house, a small area of bite size food on the counters will help attract more people to your kitchen and make it feel homey.  Think coffee bar or hot chocolate for the kids in winter with a few cookies.  As people walk away from these extra little touches, they will remember that home and also see how they can entertain in the space.  

9.  Light it up

    Just before you leave your home for the open house, or even in the morning for potential buyers to come buy.  Take a moment to open the blinds.  Have a room that may appear dark, turn on a light.  You want your home to be spacious and inviting and a simple way to do that is to let the natural light in,  


Finally, talk to your real estate agent and let them guide you in the process and specifics to helping your home show well for an open house and through the process of presenting to a buyer.  You can take their advice and know they are only looking out for your interest to help you sell your home for the highest price and as fast as possible.  They may recommend removing family photos from walls and tables.  This isn't personal, its to help your potential buyer see their family in the home, not just yours.  Plus, think safety.  No one needs to know you have 2 little girls living in the home and who they are.  Your home may have years of personalizing it, and now you want to make it more "neutral" so the future home owner can see how they will make it their new space.

Ready to list your home for sale?  Please reach out to me..  I would love to help answer all your questions.

- Heather Buchman