13 Tips to prepare for an Open House

By Annette Sievert

Spring has arrived in full force, the last bare trees are baring buds, the oaks are green and sellers who waited for the rhododendron to bloom to showcase their homes are (hopefully) preparing for the market.

Open Houses are in my opinion a great tool to market and present a new listing. I have sold homes at Open Houses. So why not put the extra work in and open the doors for the public.

Preparing for the big day is vital. Of course you want to present the property as perfectly as possible. After all this is like a date and nobody goes and meets a potential mate without showering, brushing teeth and combing hair, right?
Here are a few tips to prepare which of course also apply to launching your listing on MLS:

1: Have the house spotless, clean your heart out, do not just put stuff away in the closet (or store things in the oven or the dishwasher) and then barely close that door, everything that can be opened will be opened by buyers (built ins, kitchen cabinets etc) and should be as neat looking inside as outside, have windows and frames cleaned inside and outside.

2: Take care of the little things that were on the Honey Do list forever, fix that kitchen cabinet door hinge, cover that outlet, caulk the toilet, clean the windows and blinds, look behind doors, ceiling corners, find all cob webs. Buyers will pay more for a house that makes a very groomed and maintained impression.

3: Stow everything away neatly, have nothing laying around, kids rooms as tidy as possible, no paperwork of any kind on the desk in the open (account info, SSNs, mortgage info…), safely put away prescription drugs and jewelry (do not tempt…)
4: Mow the lawn, weed, remove dead flowers, roll up the garden hose, have falling leaves removed, powerwash the deck/patio/entrance etc etc.

5: Do not put up anything scented, no potpourri, scented candles etc etc, air the house out and at the most put a dryer sheet in the dryer but do not scent the air artificially. Your scent taste might make others nauseous or react allergic and people think you are covering something up. Smell is our strongest sense and if people smell something in the house they do not like they might subconsciously dislike the house and don’t even know why.

6: No cookies or anything to eat. People are not coming to your house because they are hungry, they want to see the house. You also do not want cookie crumbles on your light carpet. This is of course a matter of opinion, I have colleagues who do serve cookies. But once a kid smears chocolate fingers over your artwork you might agree that food is not something you want there.

7: If you have anything that really does not go with the rest of the furniture (a pillow you love but that should not be seen by anybody else, a blanket that is cozy but not really that perfect anymore, kid stuff that does not belong in the living room), stow it away. Have things in the rooms where they belong, kid stuff in kid’s room, work stuff in office or on a desk…. do not water down a room’s purpose by assigning additional uses to it

8: Do not heat the house unless it is getting chilly (and then rather have a fire going for ambiance), lots of people are bringing in warmth, buyers should be able to walk around without removing their coat.

9: Carefully look for dead bugs in window sills etc, cob webs in corners/ceiling, lamps. Clean the grates of the ducts on ceiling and walls (a lot of times they can go into the dishwasher..)

10: Have all lamps in working order, check all bulbs, have all lights on when people start coming, don’t skimp on the wattage, you want to showcase your house!

11: Pets should not be home, take the dog out, crate the cat, take the birdcage with you…. Make sure the litter is fresh and that nothing in the house smells like animal. Take out animal beds, mats, dishes..

12: Make sure you do not cook with curry, fish or anything strong smelling right before the Open House and for that matter before showings. Stale kitchen smells are a problem.

13: LEAVE! A seller should never be present during an Open House, showings, appraisals, inspections. It makes buyers very uncomfortable not to be able to say what they want to say and roam freely. We also see cameras and recorders in houses from time to time, what a lovely way to communicate that a seller does not trust….

Our inventory is still ridiculously low. According to a recent report of CSNBC this is the strongest seller’s market on record. Take advantage of it and list!

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