Buying & Selling

Mastering Your Open House – Tips for Successful Showings

An open house gives prospective buyers a chance to view your property without the need for a prior appointment. These are generally low-key events that don’t put a lot of pressure on the would-be buyers – but it can be an intense few hours for the sellers. 

One of those people walking through your home could turn out to be the buyer you need. In a hot market, open houses can also be the quickest way to get more than one bidder interested in the property at once, which can increase your sales price. 

Getting ready for an open house can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s where to start when preparing for your open house:

1. Address Small Cosmetic Repairs

When you live in a house long enough, you start to overlook small cosmetic issues that can be glaringly obvious to would-be buyers. While these repairs may seem insignificant individually, they can have a collective effect on a visitor’s overall impression of the property, so:

  • Repair any holes, dents or cracks in the plaster of your walls
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on high-traffic areas or the walls where you made repairs
  • Fix any creaky doors on cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Replace loose handles on drawers in the kitchen or storage areas
  • Replace stained or torn weather stripping around the windows and drawers.
  • Replace any cracked or discolored caulking around the tub

While none of these are critical issues, they all contribute to a buyer’s subconscious impression of your home. You want your home to seem well-tended and loved.

2. Boost Your Curb Appeal

The exterior of your home offers buyers their first impression. So, even though it doesn’t really affect the quality of your home, call in a crew and make sure that the garden beds are properly mulched, weeds are pulled, bushes are trimmed and the walks are clean and clear. 

You also need to pay attention to the entrance to your home. Adding potted flowers in full bloom on the porch can lend a charming touch, and you may want to consider refreshing the paint on your door. Small touches can resonate very loudly with buyers who are trying to picture themselves living in your space. A well-maintained exterior signals potential buyers that you really care about your home – and that can reassure them about what they’ll find inside.

3. Declutter and Depersonalize

This is the most important step you can take to get ready for showcasing your home, bar none – and it’s usually the one that sellers find the hardest to do. The longer you have been in your home, the more your personality may be stamped on the place – and you need to wipe all of that away so that buyers can picture themselves living in your space.

  • Remove personal photos and family portraits 
  • Clear countertops and surfaces of clutter and decorative items
  • Minimize your decor, especially religious or political symbols
  • Clean out closets and storage spaces so that they look spacious
  • Pack up valuables and heirlooms and put them in storage
  • Eliminate all but the most mundane pieces of decor

When you’re deciding whether a picture needs to be pulled off the wall or objects need to be packed away in storage in anticipation of your move, follow this rule: If it would look out-of-place in a hotel, it needs to go. 

4. Schedule a Deep Clean of Your Home

Nothing turns buyers off faster than a home that looks and feels cluttered or dirty – so you need to schedule a deep clean on the house a week or two before you anticipate showing. 

While you can do it yourself, you may want to hire a service to lift some of the burden off your back because you need to:

  • Wipe down the walls to remove dust, marks and fingerprints
  • Dust or vacuum ceiling surfaces and look for visible stains and cobwebs
  • Clean carpets to eliminate odors and mop hardwood, tile or laminate floors
  • Clean the interior and exterior windows to remove dirt and grime 
  • Wipe down windowsills, tracks and blinds and make sure curtains are washed
  • Wipe down doors, door frames and handles to remove fingerprints and dirt
  • Replace burnt-out bulbs and clean light fixtures, ceiling fans and lampshades
  • Clean the baseboards, air vents and heat registers and vacuum inside to remove dust
  • Clean and degrease kitchen and laundry appliances until they sparkle like new
  • Scrub bathtubs, showers and shower doors to remove soap residue or grime
  • Clean the interior and exterior of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets

Essentially, if it’s visible, you need to clean it. Even if it’s not visible without looking under or inside something, you need to clean it. When potential buyers go through an open house, they can and will take the opportunity to peek behind furniture and look inside cabinets, so cleanliness counts everywhere.

5. Have an Action Plan

Despite all of the advance efforts you make, you will still have to do a few last-minute adjustments before your open house starts (and, if necessary, before additional showings), so have a plan. A few hours before your open house starts:

  • Put away mail and personal items. Pay particular attention to the day-to-day clutter that tends to gather on kitchen counters, dining room tables and bedsides.
  • Take out the trash to eliminate any lingering odors. If possible, stow the trash bins out of sight in the kitchen, bedrooms or baths.
  • Pick up any toys that you have for your pets or children. Stashing them in a basket or box that can be tucked into a discreet corner or hidden in a closet is usually easiest.
  • Do some spot cleaning. Wipe up any coffee stains or spills, make sure that faucets are gleaming and look for dirt in high-traffic areas, like hallways and bathrooms.

Your list might look a little different, but you want to make sure that everybody in your household knows their role so that you can all pitch in together in those frantic moments before you turn over your keys to the REALTOR® and open your doors to prospective buyers.