September 20, 2018 | Haley Kinard
Image via Unsplash

When it comes it planning and executing an open house, your real estate agent takes the lead. However, that doesn’t mean sellers are off the hook. If you want your open house to be worth your while, you need to spend some time getting ready for the event.

Agents and sellers have different responsibilities before the open house. While an agent should market the home, the seller should make sure their home is clean. However, the cleanliness required for an open house isn’t the same as your home’s everyday cleanliness. To truly wow buyers, your home needs to look its very best.

As you prepare for the open house, make sure you check these 10 tasks off your list:

1. Deep Clean

It’s no surprise that you should clean before the open house, but don’t just sweep, mop, and call it a day. For a home that sparkles, perform a top-to-bottom deep clean that includes infrequent chores like washing windows, dusting baseboards, shampooing carpets and upholstery, and cleaning under appliances.

2. Declutter

House Beautiful warns that clutter distracts buyers. Use decluttering as an opportunity to pack up belongings before the move or get rid of things you aren’t keeping. Address small clutter as well as large items like furniture. An over-furnished space is hard for buyers to navigate, while open spaces let buyers imagine where they’d place their own furnishings.

3. Clear Surfaces

Some items aren’t clutter, but still look like clutter to buyers — think countertop appliances and your dish of keys in the foyer. Before your open house, clear surfaces and store items out of sight.

4. Organize Storage Areas

Shoving clutter into cabinets isn’t a solution. Buyers will look in cabinets, closets, and other storage areas, so it’s important to organize these spaces as well.

5. Depersonalize

For now, it’s still your home. However, you want buyers to picture it as theirs. Remove personalized decorations like family photos, kids’ trophies, and postcards on the fridge to create a blank slate for prospective buyers’ imaginations.

6. Refresh the Exterior

Curb appeal has a big impact on your home’s market value. Ensure your house’s first impression is a positive one by cleaning exterior lighting fixtures, mowing the lawn and pruning plants, and setting out a new welcome mat before the open house. Don’t forget to get rid of yard clutter; The Spruce offers suggestions for saying goodbye to that broken hot tub or pile of garden pots.

7. Stage Vignettes

After all your decluttering and organizing, your house might be looking a little sparse. Bring life back into the space by staging vignettes. A bowl of fresh farmers market produce on the kitchen counter, a mug and open book by the sofa, and place settings at the dinner table let buyers imagine all the possibilities your home holds.

8. Air It Out

The day of the open house, open all the windows to let your home air out. Even the cleanest homes can develop a scent, especially if you cooked an aromatic dinner the night before. A few minutes of fresh air blowing through the house does wonders to eliminate stale odors.

9. Protect Your Belongings

It’s rare, but some opportunistic criminals see open houses as a chance to scout for valuables. Protect yourself by collecting jewelry, prescription medications, personal documents, and other valuables before the open house. If you don’t have a safe, keep them with you for protection from theft.

10. Clear the Driveway

Curbside trash cans shouldn’t be the first thing buyers notice when pulling up. Clear vehicles, trash cans, and other clutter from the driveway before your open house begins.

When everything is done, the only thing left to do is leave! A seller lingering around the home makes buyers uncomfortable, so it’s best to stay away during the open house. Don’t forget to take kids and pets with you!

When you’re selling in a competitive market, details matter. Dirty windows and cluttered closets might seem insignificant, but they could lead to lower offers for your home. If you want to impress buyers and get the highest price possible, these 10 steps are a must.

Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.


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