The success of an open house can depend on a lot of things. Some factors we can’t control include the weather, drive-by traffic and market conditions. Factors that we can control are adequate advance advertising and proper pre-market preparation.
If a seller has taken the time to create curb appeal, de-clutter, depersonalize and neutralize, then the next step – the open house – will be easy and stress-free.
Before posting an “Open House” sign, determine the traffic flow in the neighborhood. On what day (or days) is there more traffic than others and is there a block of time in which an increase in traffic flow is notable? Then choose the date and time, advertise the open house in a local newspaper and post the “open house” sign. Typically, most open house showings take place on weekends and are two to three hours in duration.
Follow these 10 tips for hosting the best open house ever to ensure success!
1. Hype up your curb appeal
You should start getting the outside of your house ready well before the open house. On the day of, quickly check to make sure that there is no loose garbage, branches or debris on the property. Doing so will ensure a good first impression.
Make sure that all garbage and recycling receptacles are out of sight and give the front walkway and entry way a sweep if necessary.
2. Take the odor test
Our sense of smell is our strongest sense and triggers memories; good and bad! Since every home has its own unique fragrance, you should try to neutralize any odors before the open house.
Regardless if there are pets in the home, infuse the air with a scent that will appeal to most people. Bake a batch of cookies beforehand and leave the plate out to allow viewers to sample the goodies.
Light a scented candle or simmer a pot of potpourri; this will create a pleasant, homey smell. Extinguish all candles and dispose of potpourri before viewers arrive.
It’s important to note that the use of heavy perfumes and air deodorizers can lead prospective buyers to think that the seller is trying to conceal odors.
3. Mind your main entry space
Make sure that all shoes and apparel are removed from the entry way. There should not be any clothing or unnecessary items within view when visitors enter your home.
Check any glass, window or mirrored surfaces for prints and smudges (don’t forget light switches and door knobs!). To ensure that hall closets appear spacious, out-of-season apparel should already have been packed away.
4. Create open & clean sight-lines
Which rooms can be seen from the entry way? Are there any unnecessary or out-of-place items that can be put away?
Make sure that all window treatments in the home are open to allow as much natural light into the space as possible. If it is a dark or overcast day, turn on several fixtures or lamps to create atmosphere.
5. Maximize your kitchen
Make sure that counter space is maximized by putting away any unnecessary kitchen items (except that plate of goodies) and remove garbage and recycling to eliminate any unpleasant odors.
Sinks should be polished and all kitchen linens put away. Consider appliances; anything is for sale for the right price and this often involves appliances. Make sure that appliances are sparkling clean, inside and out! If there is a dishwasher in the home, it should be empty and clean.
6. Make your bathroom(s) shine
Along with the master bedroom, bathrooms are the most personal space in any home and require special attention. Remove all visible personal items such as toothbrushes, combs, shampoo, shaving cream, razors etc. and place in a pre-designated basket or container that can be tucked away in the vanity or linen closet.
Bathroom fixtures such as the toilet, tub, shower, sinks, and mirrors should be glowing. Hang fresh, clean linens and maximize floor space by putting away extra toilet paper, magazines, cleaners etc. and make sure that the garbage is empty. A toilet brush is not a display item and should be out of sight!
7. Don’t use bedroom closets for storage
All window treatments should be open to allow as much light into the space as possible. Beds should be made and, once again, all personal items should be stored. An inexpensive storage tote is a great last-minute container to store items during short-notice viewings and open houses.
Tuck the container away under a bed or neatly in a closet. Garbage receptacles should be empty, or, if possible, completely out of sight. Remember, potential buyers will open closets!
8. Create ambiance in the dining area
Chairs and tables should be clean and clutter-free. A simple arrangement of fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit are sufficient and allow potential buyers to see the space. If possible, dim the light above the dining area to create a nice ambiance.
9. Tidy up the living room/family room
Every day items such as newspapers, magazines, remote controls, children’s toys and games can be misconstrued as clutter. During an open house, these items are not necessary and should be put away.
All electronics and furniture items should be free of prints, smudges and dust. Rearrange and plump up any decorative pillows and throws so that the overall appearance is neat and tidy.
If the carpet has tracks in the pile, brush it using just the bare floor attachment; this will give the carpet that “just vacuumed” look.
10. Dehumidify the laundry/basement areas
It is normal for below grade areas such as basements, recreation rooms and cold cellars to have a bit of “basement” odor. Running dehumidifiers or air purifiers before an open house will be beneficial. However, do not cause unnecessary concern or alarm by leaving them running or in view during an open house.
A plug-in room freshener, concealed behind a piece of furniture, is sufficient. If there are issues in these areas, they should be disclosed to potential buyers immediately. By doing so a seller conveys honesty and ultimately, any issues will be disclosed during a home inspection.
Laundry areas, regardless of whether they are main floor or below grade, should be spotless! All detergents and related cleaning products should be stored out of sight. Remove dryer lint and empty garbage receptacles.
A successful open house is easy!
While the above list is extensive, it is in no way exhaustive! Use a critical eye, like a potential buyer would. This will ensure that everything is in tip-top shape and has move-in ready appeal. Good luck!