How to Prepare Your Home for a Successful Open House

My Guys Moving/flickrPlanning to sell your home? In many locations, holding a real estate open house is the way to go. It’s a method of bringing in a number of prospective buyers (and sometimes other brokers) within a brief time frame … and any one of them could be the one who makes a purchase offer you won’t want to refuse. So prep for success -- be sure your home is at its best before your agent announces the first open.

Take inventory of your property. Selling your house is a business venture, meaning you need to take stock of your asset. List your home’s recent upgrades and all its pluses; include even those that are not really relevant to your family but might be exactly what a buyer is looking for, such as a three-car garage or a basement which could be easily remodeled into additional living space. An online home inventory tool like HomeZada will be a tremendous help here.

Create the mother of all “honey-do” lists. Then hire a good handyman and get it done! On a day-to-day basis, you might not even notice that missing door handle or leaky faucet, but when Mr. or Ms. Homebuyer comes to call, it will scream, “Wonder what else has been neglected here?” Taking care of basic home maintenance and repair may cost a few hundred dollars upfront, but can add thousands to your selling price.

Add curb appeal. Once again, a small investment will pay off big time. Make sure your entry light and house numbers are in excellent shape, so buyers can find your home without a hassle. Repair any cracked or missing walkway pavers. Groom your landscaping and plant pretty flowers around the entrance or in pots on the front porch.

Declutter. You know the drill – donate, recycle, toss, repeat. This time, though, go a couple of steps further. Stash valuable collectibles or jewelry in a safe place for the duration … just in case. Then, (temporarily) weed out even possessions you truly love, if they make your home feel overcrowded. That enormous coffee table or your kids’ extensive rock collection can go into storage until you sell.

Clean up. Make sure that every inch of your home gleams, shines, and smells fresh and sweet. Do a deep down clean before scheduling your very first open house. After that, regular quick touchups will keep it in great shape throughout the showing and selling process. Especially important: sparkling clean windows and mirrors will maximize the light in each room.

Empty a cupboard. If you plan to continue living in your home until it sells, dedicate one empty cabinet or closet to last minute storage. Choose an out-of-the-way spot for this purpose, because some looky-loos may insist on opening all cupboard doors within easy reach.

Make your home feel homey, in a good way. Right before the open house, adjust your heating or cooling to a comfortable temperature. Open the curtains or blinds to let the sun shine in. Set the dining table with attractive dinnerware, napkins, and cutlery. Display a beautiful bouquet of flowers (hypoallergenic, if you please).

Don’t make it too homey, however. Depersonalize the space so open house attendees can envision it as their own. Remove all family photos, children’s art, or similar personal items. Put away your cat or dog’s feeding dishes and toys, too. Then take yourselves and your pet out for a drive or a long walk while your real estate broker is showing the home.

Make your bed. Here’s my favorite piece of advice for sellers: Purchase a new set of linens for every bed in your house, not to be slept on, but rather to be used only when buyers are coming to visit. This means you’ll be ready to show off your bedrooms on a dime. Bonus: That gorgeous bedding will serve you well when you move to your new home.

Ask for feedback. Find out from your seller’s agent how the open house went. What kind of feedback did he or she receive? What did viewers like or dislike? What should you improve in order to sell your home?

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated June 18, 2018.

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