Preparing your home for an open house can be a little like getting ready for a blind date. You don’t know what you may be facing but it is important to look your best. Open houses can often be stressful for homeowners because they know that strangers will be tromping through the door evaluating every last detail. You know the home needs to be as clean as possible but here are a few other things to keep in mind as you prepare.
Depersonalize as much as you can: You don’t want strangers seeing all your personal stuff and that’s reason enough to put photos, awards and sentimental objects elsewhere but there’s another reason as well. All that stuff is distracting and your potential home buyer could spend more time looking at what is in the home than actually seeing their lives taking place there. Your goal is to have your home appear as a blank slate, just waiting for a new buyer to make their mark. Pets should be out of the home not just for the day but ideally for a few days in order to allow any lingering odors to dissipate.
Don’t shove it all in the closet: You’ve got clutter, you need to get it out of sight, at least temporarily. The first instinct might be to move it all out to the garage, put it up in the attic, stack it in the basement, or fill up the closets. But remember your potential buyer probably has a fair amount of clutter too. They will be looking at all those storage spaces and the more available room they see, the more it will look like your home has all the space they need. Ask relatives or friends if you can temporarily store some items with them. You can also rent a storage space. The important thing is to make your home appear spacious and inviting.
Warm it up: The old trick of baking bread or cookies works to appeal to clients because it makes the home feel warm and lived in. Scented candles can work a similar magic. Fresh flowers or plants are also a nice touch and one that stagers often use. Another trick from stagers is to use colorful pillows and softly draped throws to provide a bit of color in bedrooms and living spaces. The home needs to be depersonalized but it still needs to look lived in and so a stack of plates left on the counter, fruit in the fruit bowl, towels in the bathroom, all go toward showing that the home is a great place to live.
Keep it bright: Light sells homes. Windows should be freshly cleaned on both the inside and the outside for maximum sunlight potential. Also go around and check to make sure all your light bulbs are working and that they are bright enough to really show off the rooms to their best advantage. Open all curtains and shades and take down any heavy curtains that might block some of the light streaming in.
Make a day of it: You know you shouldn’t be hovering around your open house but instead of going down to the local coffee shop and waiting until it’s over, reward yourself with a real mini vacation. Even the happiest of moves are stressful, so defuse some of that by taking yourself and your family out for a little reward. Put some distance between you and the home by going on a small day trip. Then later you can reconnect with your Realtor after he or she has had time to gather up all the impressions about the home.
Remember, you may not get an offer on the first day but an open house can lead to future showings and an eventual sale.