Seller Tips for a Successful Open House

You’ve listed your home and now it’s time for your open house. Hopefully, you’ve hired a Key Lime Real Estate, Inc. agent as we understand the value of the perfectly staged open house that will bring you the desired results – offers. If you are wondering what you should and should not do, read on!

An expert agent will handle all the business details such as listing the event in the MLS, creating the advertising flyers and then the actual advertising, putting out the strategically mapped open house signs, and then hosting the actual event. The seller’s role during the event is to vacate the home and if at all possible, take all the inside-dwelling animals with them or at least relocate them to a neighbor or friend’s home. Sounds pretty simple, right? It should be. The more prepared you are to hold an open house, the less stress you will experience on the day of your open house.

Your listing agent should have given you a list of things to do in order for your house to show as best as possible. Realtors® are professionals. Rely on their advice throughout the entire process and you will eliminate the majority of your stress.

The number one piece of advice you must take as the most important is cleanliness truly is next to godliness. Your home MUST be clean. It must not smell. We will get to odors and what to do and not to do. For now, just please understand that your home must be cleaner than it’s ever been! And stay that way. Make your house sparkle and shine – including the outside. Buff floors, clean carpets, wash down cabinets, clean tile grout, and anything else that needs cleaning. Pressure wash the driveway, walkways, patio areas, and pool surroundings.

Chances are the first thing you were advised to do is declutter. While that’s much easier said than done, consider this tip. You are going to be moving. You are in the process of selling your house to move out of it. Go ahead and start packing! That’s right. Pack up your house now. You will be miles ahead in your moving process once you have packed down to your minimal essentials. While you are packing, create a “to go” box/pile and everything that is not “bringing you joy,” as Marie Kondo suggests, get rid of now. Have a yard sale or take it to a charitable organization; some will even come get it. Continue doing this until you are satisfied that you are completely free of all unwanted or unnecessary items. Consider a storage unit if your “keep pile” is larger than your “to go pile” and your home is still not decluttered. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in that house and most buyers decide within 30 seconds if they like the house or not. If your home has too much stuff in it, buyers can get “lost” and be unable to envision their life in your soon-to-be former home.

Hopefully, during the decluttering process, you were successful in also depersonalizing your home. It isn’t easy for potential buyers to visualize themselves and their own families in a home that is filled with another family’s photos and mementos. All personal photos, awards, and other identifiable objects need to be packed up and put away. You can dream about where those items will go in your new home. I had a recent experience at an open house that should not be repeated. The seller is not giving notice at her place of employment until her house sells. She was advised to remove the numerous personal photos, but refused. A potential buyer at her open house recognized her in one of the photos as a fellow employee and was then alerted that she might be not only be relocating, but also changing her place of employment. Don’t let others share your news before you have the chance to do so.

Other items to consider removing are items that reveal religion, political affiliation, and certain hobbies that can be considered offensive, such as taxidermic animals. On the topic of animals, not all animal lovers are created equal. Consider those who are allergic to your precious Fido or Fluffy. This goes back to cleanliness. Ensure that your home is vacuumed and dusted daily in the event of showings, but especially for an open house. Please, please do not under any circumstances attempt to mask the cat box odors with air freshener! It doesn’t work. What does work is removing the cat box all together prior to all showings and all open houses. Keeping your animals clean will also keep the pet odors to a minimum. A non-animal lover will alert on the fact that you have animals and that could kill the deal, no matter how much they love the house. Also consider hiding pet food bowls and pet toys. Keep in mind that some people suffer allergic reactions to chemicals, such as air fresheners. Keep candles and potpourri to a minimum. The best smells are the fragrances created by fresh baked cookies, pies, or bread. You don’t have to serve those items, well maybe the cookies! The lingering scent is sufficient. Those baked items smell like home. Avoid cooking fish, cabbage, or anything with a significantly potentially offensive odor the night before your open house or any other showing.

One of the most important aspects of an open house is regulating the temperature. If it’s really hot outside, a welcoming cool home will add bonus points on the potential buyers’ list of positive features. If it’s particularly cold outside, keep the heat set just high enough to kill the chill, but not so high that people can’t breathe. A welcoming temperature is indicative of a welcoming space.

Make sure ALL lights are on, including closets and kitchen lights – range lights too. Open ALL blinds, curtains, and window shades. Allow as much natural light in as possible. This is a rule of thumb for all showings as well. A well-lit home translates to a cheery home. Dark can be scary!

A quick rundown of must-do things include the following:

Keep the grass cut, edged, and landscaping trimmed. Curb appeal can make or break your home sale.

If there are minor repairs in need, do them. Leaky faucets and sticky drawers are sure to be the bane of your open house.

Make sure all lightbulbs are operational.

Hang fresh towels and take the wet ones to the laundry area.

By all means, please close all the toilet lids!

The garage must be decluttered too.

If you have a pool, ensure that it is sparkling clean, the equipment is running smoothly, and that all unnecessary objects are removed, such as floats and excessive pool toys.

If you have unfinished projects and they have to do with the home, finish them. If they do not involve the home, get them out of sight. Nothing screams louder than unfinished projects.

If your home needs painting, do it. It’s one of the best investments you can make to secure the sale of you home.

Do not leave valuables in the house. If you have a home safe, use it.

Do not leave medications in the house. Again, if you have a home safe, use it or take the valuables and medications with you.

Remove all items that can be a trip factor. Keep safety in mind as strangers will be making their way through your home.

On the day of the open house, remove all cars from the garage, the driveway, and the front of the home. Find a place nearby to park them if you must, but remove them from the sight of your home. Kindly ask your neighbors not to park on the streets in front of your home. You want ample parking for your open home visitors.

Finally, think of your home as the potential buyer. Take a look at it and put yourself in a buyer’s position. Would you buy your home? Would you accept it in its current condition? What things would you want fixed or improved that would be in the seller’s position to accomplish?

Last on the list, please leave! Allow your professional Realtor® to conduct the open house. They are the professionals and know how to sell your home. Buyers are not comfortable looking at homes with the owners present. Go to the movies, the beach, a park, or visit friends and family. Please do rush the agent conducting the open house toward the end of the event! Sometimes potential buyers linger, and that’s a good thing. We want to sell your house and we want to be the best agent you have ever used. We want you to spread that good referral to everyone you know. Help us sell your home by following these simple guidelines. One of the best feelings in the world is to receive the keys to your brand-new home. Welcome home!