With the “for sale” sign in the yard, your home is officially on the market. What better way to get things started than with an open house? For real estate agent Melinda Estridge of The Estridge Group, it is a way to kick off a new listing. “I recommend doing one the first week it is on the market,” Estridge said, as it is the perfect way to let other buyers and their agents know that there is a new home for sale that could potentially be their next home sweet home. Although open houses are not the strongest marketing Estridge does, it allows agents to send their buyers through a new listing and neighbors to see and spread the word about a home in their neighborhood. Plus, it gives the listing agent an opportunity to hear feedback first hand. However, before you open the doors to buyers, there are a few things you, as the homeowner, must do.
Make It a Clean Sweep
When company comes over it’s okay to stuff everything into the closet in the spare bedroom, because chances are they aren’t going to be rummaging around. However, during an open house, you are opening your home to the public and their scrutinizing eye. Buyers will open closets, check the space under cabinets, and even look in the shower. Your home needs a complete scrub-down. However, because you are still living in your home, make sure you give it a once over the day of the open house to wipe away crumbs, shower puddles, toothpaste globs, and that coffee spill, as well as take out the trash. Don’t forget to tackle stubborn odors. Every home has a distinct smell, and you’ve likely grown accustomed to it, but a funky smell, whether from cooking, kids, or pets, is a turn-off. Use natural cleaning products for a fresh smell, and open the windows to give your home a chance to air out. A few days before the open house, have a neighbor or friend come over, as they have an unbiased eye and nose.
Get a Packing Head Start
According to Estridge, the biggest thing homeowners forget to do before an open house is clear the clutter. One of the hardest parts of moving is deciding what to keep and what to discard, so decluttering gives you a head start and can save on moving costs down the road since you will have less stuff to move. Go room-by-room and sort items into piles that you will keep, give away, donate, or sell. Tackle areas that often become a dump zone such as counters, dressers, bedside tables, and dining room tables. Keep in mind that you aren’t packing everything up, but making sure each room looks neat and organized so that potential buyers can picture themselves living there. Some of the so-called clutter you will be cleaning up are items you use everyday such as toothbrushes, shampoo, and even your new smoothie blender. It might seem like a hassle to have to put it all away, but it’s worth it.
No Dogs Allowed
A big mistake homeowner’s make is leaving a dog behind during an open house. Even if your pooch is the friendliest of them all, strangers coming in and out of the home might lead to barking. Plus, some buyers might not like the idea that a dog has been living in their future home, as this could mean odors, stains, and house blemishes. Some buyers may have allergies, or even a fear of dogs. For these many reasons, it is important that you schedule a place for Fido to be. If you can’t take him for the day, hire a dog sitter or board your dog. In addition to temporarily relocating your dog, make sure you put away his bed, food/water bowls, and toys, as well as pick up after him in the yard.
As the seller, it is your responsibility to make sure the house is in “ultimate showing condition with all lights on,” Estridge said. This includes cleaning, decluttering, and making sure all furry family members have a place to stay.
She added that you should replace cold white lighting or lightening that takes a while to light up, and that shades and blinds should be opened up to let in light.
“Bright homes are very important to today’s buyer,” she said. “In terms of staging, tired carpeting or needed painting is crucial. Also exposing and refinishing worn hardwood floors is a big money maker.”
Then it’s time to hand the reins over to your agent and make yourself scarce. “As an agent, I often serve light refreshments, make sure everything is in place and that I know everything there is to know about the home,” Estridge said. An open house provides buyers with a personalized look into your home, and now that you’ve adequately prepared, you can take a deep breath and wait for that offer.