It’s time! You’ve put your house on the market, and your Realtor wants to hold the first open house since your listing has gone up for sale. You’re excited but nervous. You want potential buyers to love your home as much as you have (that’ll never happen, right?) and you have pledged to do everything in your power to make it a successful open house.
Chances are your Realtor, if he’s worth his salt, has already given you some tips on presenting your home in the best possible light. And perhaps you already made some changes or upgrades before you even called your Realtor into your home to consider your listing. Nevertheless, here we offer some easy tips for proper staging without the need to hire a professional stager. Following these tips will save you both money and aggravation…and – who knows? – that first open house might be the one that gets you to the settlement table!
Enhance Your Curb Appeal
Remember, a house isn’t just about what's on the inside and, of course, the entrance area is the first part of the house a prospective buyer views. So, replace your old worn-out welcome mats; sweep any pine needles, leaves, or other debris from the porch or front step; hose down sidewalks and driveways; and – when possible – add some bushes, flowers, or other colorful touches to the entry area. It provides a great first impression and makes buyers want to come in and view the rest of the house.
It’s All About the Light!
No one wants to purchase a dark, dingy-looking house. On open house day, pull back the curtains, roll up and shades, and allow natural daylight to shine. In some cases, you might consider replacing unusually heavy curtains with something a bit breezier, even if it is the middle of winter. In other instances, if it’s hard to channel the sunlight, you might even consider removing the window treatments altogether. That said, you’ll also need to be sure that your windows are sparkling clean. Some of us let the window cleaning go because the treatments often hide the dirt. So, break out the bucket and scrub those windows until they shine!
And More Light!
Besides taking advantage of the natural light available in your house, you’ll want to enhance the not-so-bright parts of your home by turning on all the lamps. Good lighting is especially important in darker rooms or even in dark corners of rooms with plenty of windows. Good lighting allows buyers to see everything they need to view and rooms tend to look larger when they’re well lit. No need for “ambiance” during an open house. Let the light shine!
Another wonderful way to make small rooms like larger is with the addition of mirrors. So if you’ve have some places in your home that you think might turn off potential buyers because of their size, remove the artwork from the wall and add some decorative mirrors instead. Not just small accent mirrors, of course, but something fairly substantial in size, like perhaps 2’ x 4’ or larger. Furthermore, when you remove artwork, you’ll likely appeal to a wider audience. It’s amazing how one painting that’s not to a buyer’s taste can skew his/her whole view of your house.
Do a Quick Kitchen Update
It is not necessary to renovate your entire kitchen to get a higher price. Make your home more appealing by replacing knobs and handles, for example. Do a little searching on the internet to find out what’s the hottest trend as far as materials are concerned (i.e. brushed nickel vs. polished bronze). You might also consider an update to old fluorescent fixtures that were so popular in the kitchens of old. They are unattractive and harsh, so newer options will certainly be an improvement.
Don’t Hide Your Wood Floors
If you have lovely hardwood floors, pick up the accent rugs and put them away until after the house sells. Hardwood floors remain all the rage so you should show them off, especially if they’re in great shape. AND if they’re not in great shape, it’s worth it to spend some money cleaning them up.
Set the Table
Keeping your table(s) set is a cheap trick that professional home stagers use all the time. A lovely table setting lights up a room but also gives it a homey feel. Most stagers suggest you use white plates, maybe in an unusual shape (such as square) or a neutral plate with just a small pattern. Include solid color place mats as well and add color by adding vibrant napkins or a quality arrangement of artificial flowers. (Fresh are great too but make sure they aren’t wilted.) Use a tablecloth too, if you’d like, especially if you need to hide imperfections on the table, and add fine cutlery and wine glasses or water goblets, too. If it’s holiday time, include some decorative pieces to fit the season.
Bake Some Cookies
Fresh baked cookies are one of the oldest tricks in the book! About an hour or two before the open house, bake a tray of chocolate chip, cinnamon, or other deliciously-smelling cookies. Baking cookies make your kitchen (and entire house!) smell pleasant, and it’s way better than burning one of those sugar cookie-scented candles.
Remove Excessive Personal Items
Buyers want to imagine a home as their own, so keep personal items to a minimum. You know that wall full of pictures of the grand kids? You might want to take those down. Same goes for the kids’ drawings tacked up on the refrigerator. If there are unsightly spots on the wall or holes where those pictures hung, head to your local Michael’s or other craft store and picked up some inexpensive pieces that match your décor, like florals, landscapes, or modern works featuring geometric shapes.
Keep the Décor Gender-Neutral
You never know who’s going to walk through the door of your open house. It could be a single girly-girl, or it might be a big strapping guy who loves the location of your house because it’s close to the gym and his favorite after-work hangout. So, put away items that cause your décor to drastically lean one way or the other, like your doll or needlepoint collection or that weight set you keep in the corner of the family room.
Use White in the Bathroom
Nothing makes a bathroom (even an older one) look more pristine than when you add lots of crisp, fresh white linens including towels, bathmats, and shower curtains. It’ll give potential buyers a sort of spa vibe, and you can even amp up that feeling by adding things such as decorative soaps, a thin vase of fresh flowers, or a candle in a light, clean scent.
Your Realtor may have more easy and inexpensive tips for you to employ as you ready your home for this all-important first step in selling it. Remember, he or she is the experienced professional and knows what can help your house sell and what will keep it on the market for longer than you might wish. Take time to confer with your Realtor for the best open house results!