Your mission: Make the right buyer fall in love with your house.
Is it mission impossible?
Not if you follow these tips. Below, we’re discussing exactly what you need to do to prepare for an open house. Whether you’re selling your home on your own or going through a real estate agent, this post will help you understand the process and give you top tips for preparing your home to sell.
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What to Expect During an Open House
The scent of home-baked cookies, a newly planted yard sign, a stack of freshly printed flyers– all of these are hallmarks of an open house. You probably know to expect these things, but what else can you expect at your open house?
So, This Is Awkward, But…
You can’t be at your open house. Unless you’re hosting your own open house (I strongly recommend that you go through a real estate agent), plan to be away from your home when the buyers come in. Here’s why:
Buyers feel constrained and awkward when the seller is around. It’s just not nice to say something bad about another person’s home, even if that thing is easily fixable. Instead of potentially hurting the seller’s feelings, the buyer will just get the heck out of dodge and never say anything.
And not buy anything either.
You want the buyer to feel comfortable enough to make comments and start the negotiation process.
During your open house, the real estate agent will hand out a brochure of the home, along with other documents, such as neighborhood information and a mortgage loan breakdown. He or she will greet the house hunters and give a brief introduction of the home. The agent may also do a tour or prefer to get out of the way and allow the buyers to look at their own pace.
Do This to Prepare Your Home for an Open House
Clean and Declutter
Are you suffering from clutter-blindness? It’s a common condition where you don’t see how cluttered your home really is because you’re so accustomed to looking at it. To you, it just looks “comfortable” but to others, it looks like the beginning stages of hoarding.
As a general rule, you should empty at least 70% of your home.
Less furniture will help you emphasize space. However, you don’t want to show an empty home, either. That remaining 30% will be used to help define the space (more on this later).
You may be tempted to think that the right buyer will be able to overlook the clutter in your home and see its bones.
They will not.
In fact, clutter also causes blindness for the buyers. It’s a different kind of blindness where they won’t be able to see anything but the clutter. They won’t be able to see how spacious your rooms are, or how bright the windows are, or how high ceilings are.
Decluttering is a step that far too many home sellers overlook, but is crucial in selling your home for the best price and as soon as possible.
If you’d like to learn more about how to declutter your home, check out this post:
And don’t forget to deep clean like your life depended on it. Of course, not all of us have the clean gene, so don’t feel bad about hiring a cleaning service who can make your home sparkle. It’s money well spent when you end up selling your home quickly after your open house.
Make Those Pesky Little Repairs
Stage Your Home to Sell
Earlier, we discussed the importance of getting rid of most of your stuff during the cleaning and decluttering phase. While you should definitely store the bulk of your items, you can always use some of your existing pieces for staging your house to sell.
Without having furniture in your home, it looks like an empty shell, and not everyone has the imagination to be able to see past four white walls into what could be.
This is your opportunity to help out the future buyer– show what’s possible in each room. That dark corner in your living room without a purpose? Stage it with a comfortable chair, a side table, and a bright lamp to give the buyer an idea of what they could do in that space.
If you’d like to learn more about staging your home to sell, check out these posts:
Don’t Overlook the Outside of Your Home
Staging extends beyond the inside of your home. You can also stage your exteria, including your porches, patio, and other outdoor “rooms”.
Additionally, put the effort needed into making the outside of your home look just as nice (if not nicer) than the inside. Remember, this is the first impression many buyers will have of your home. Not everyone will have gotten an opportunity to see photos of the inside of your home. These house hunters will make a decision (based solely on the outside appearance of the home) whether to give it a chance.
I’ve seen buyers who refuse to get out of the car before because they just could not get over how unkempt the home looked.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you should definitely do to the exterior of your home before your open house:
- Mow the lawn
- Trim trees and shrubs
- Declutter the front porch and lawn
- Add a seating area to porch and patio areas
- Turn on front porch lights
- Power wash the walls, driveway, and other hard surfaces
- Add flowers to bring color to the space
Now that your home is on the market, it’s no longer your home but rather a house that you’re selling. You’ve got to cut emotional ties, and that starts by physically removing your personality from the house.
- Take down photos of you and your family
- Take down your kids’ artwork from the refrigerator
- Remove Fido’s food and water bowls
- Arrange furniture that makes sense for the room, not necessarily for your family
- Repaint the walls to reflect brightness and appeal to a wider group of buyers, not to showcase your personality
Protect Yourself from Theft
It’s no secret that an open house invites strangers into your home. Not to scare you, but there are unscrupulous people out there who will use an open house as a chance to case your home. Some people have sticky hands and will seize the opportunity to seize your stuff.
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To avoid theft, remove your personal belongings from your space, whether expensive or priceless. This includes jewelry, art, family heirlooms, and one of a kind pieces that can’t be replaced if lost or damaged. Be sure to secure (or completely remove) any prescription medications, also.
Start Spreading the News
If you have a real estate agent, he or she will market your open house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved, too.
About a week before your open house, invite your neighbors, friends, and family members to the event. Encourage them to bring anyone they know who is looking to buy a new home. If you have flyers (ask your real estate agent for extras), hand them out along with your personal invitation.
Be sure that your real estate agent has also promoted the open house online, too. Craigslist, Facebook, and other sites are important part of marketing your open house and shouldn’t be overlooked.
An open house is a great way to showcase your home to a huge pool of potential buyers at one time. Be sure to follow these tips to increase the likelihood of selling immediately after your open house. Good luck!
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