If you’re a real estate agent, chances are you’ve had your share of sellers who’ve hounded you to hold an open house – or two or three – at their property. Or, if you’re a seller, maybe you’ve been the hounder – convinced that the only way you’re going to sell your property in a timely manner is to show it to the world via a Sunday open house.
Facts show, however, that an open house isn’t really necessary in precipitating the sale of a particular home, especially if the home is already priced right, is clean and attractive, and is readily available for showings.
However, realtors often have different reasons for hosting open houses. Such events can help the listing agent gain more clients by allowing him/her to prospect visitors that come into the home and perhaps recruit them as potential clients, either now or somewhere in the future.
So, if it’s time to get ready for your first open house – and you can’t wait to see what results it brings – you’ll need to follow some hard and fast rules about making your home open house-ready for potential buyers and others who will step through your front door on that big day.
Things that Repel Buyers:
Basically, getting ready for an open house means avoiding doing all the things that could turn buyers off and send them searching for the exit sooner rather than later.
Clean up the Exterior
The last thing you want to do is to have the buyer turn around and leave before they’ve experienced the entire property. That’s why a dirty exterior is a no-no.
Is there mold on your siding? Does your stucco need to be power washed? Are your windows rain-spotted and dingy? Are your gutters clogged with leaves?
If the answer to any of those questions is “yes”, that’s a good reminder to address the outside of your home as well as the inside when you’re readying for an open house. Present a pleasant picture as soon as they step out of their car, and you can be sure that they’ll step through that front door with excitement.
Buyers genuinely need to see what your home offers in regards to size and space, so when you’ve occupied that space with clutter, they can’t truly ascertain the dimensions of your home other than by reading the numbers on a spec sheet. In addition, YOUR clutter makes it difficult for a potential buyer to picture THEMSELVES in your home.
Along with clutter, another deal killer is a less-than-clean home. For an open house, your home should be SPARKLING. If you’re not a great housekeeper or don’t have the time to spend cleaning from top to bottom, spend some money on a professional cleaning job instead. Honestly, these can be had for a few hundred dollars (or less) and can mean the difference between turning off buyers or keeping them interested in your house.
Curb those Pets (and their smells)
Simply put, your pets should not be left home during an open house. It doesn’t matter how inconvenient it is to take them with you. It’s even more inconvenient to leave them behind!
No matter how much you love your pet and how wonderful you think he/she is, that beloved pet could be a huge problem for someone else. Some pets are intimidating. Some react badly to strangers. Some cause allergic reactions. All in all, leaving one behind is a bad choice and one that will affect how much time a potential buyer will spend in your house or whether they’ll come in at all.
In addition, someone who leaves their pet behind at an open house is essentially making their agent responsible for the care of the animal…and that’s just not fair.
Be sure that you show your home in a good light…literally. Turn on all the lights and let your home shine. Open the blinds, shades, and curtains and make sure your windows are clean. Ample light, after all, allows your guests to see every nook and cranny.
A dark home is a turn-off…unless you’re a vampire. Realtors often hear “dark” as a negative word; comments about a home being “too dark and dull” frequently appear on feedback for homes that aren’t well lit.
We’ve already mentioned pet smells, which can be a real problem, but other smells can permeate a house as well and can be a real turn-off for potential buyers. This includes food smells. If you’re accustomed to cooking with a certain spice, for example, the smell of that spice can remain in your carpets, curtains, and on other surfaces.
So, give your home a smell test. Ask friends/family what they smell when they enter (you often become immune to the smells in your home), and if there’s a definite prevalent odor, fix the problem. And NEVER cook a pungent meal right before your open house.
Many homeowners use candles or potpourri in an attempt to mask smells, but it doesn’t always work. Also, some fragrances are too strong and are a turn-off for buyers. The best smell is that of a clean house!
Many homeowners think it’s a good idea to allow music to play in the background while visitors come through their open house. Truly, this doesn’t usually work in the seller’s favor. There are two reasons why: 1) Some visitors won’t like your choice of music, and 2) they may think you’re trying to cover up outside noise or other noise issues.
Finally, make sure your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature for the season and that your windows are closed or opened accordingly. Too hot or too cold gives buyers the impression that there is a problem with achieving the right temperature for comfort and that perhaps there’s an issue with your HVAC system.