Tips to Prepare for an Open House

By: Lesley Field

To gain maximum exposure, your real estate professional may recommend you hold one or two types of open houses. The first type is an open house for Real Estate Agents only. If your home is well priced and attractive, some of the Real Estate Agents may bring clients to see it immediately. The second type if an open house for the general public. This type of open house often attracts a lot of 'browsers' if your house looks great and is well priced, it could turn a 'browser' into a buyer.

The majority of public open houses are held on the weekend, in the afternoon. This is when potential buyers often have more time to drive through neighborhoods. Your Real Estate Agent will most likely suggest that you and your family leave the home for the duration of the open house. Prospective buyers may feel uncomfortable viewing your home and may rush their visit to avoid disturbing you. You want to make sure that potential buyers feel relaxed and welcome and take their time to really visit your property.

Here are some general tips to help you prepare for your open house:

Address potential hazards such as exposed wires, slippery stairs, fragile items, etc.
Lock away money, jewelry, cameras and other valuables.
Avoid cooking strong smelling foods just before the open house.

You can also use this check list to address what needs to be cleaned, repaired of changed before potential buyers walk through your door.

Kitchen and bathrooms
Make sure all surfaces are clean, including the floor.
Organize and de-clutter countertops.
Ensure all sinks and faucets are in good working order.

Other rooms
Vacuum and dust.
Remove all clutter, including excess furniture that may make your room look smaller.
Put away books, toys and clothes.
Clean mirrors.
Open drapes to let the light in.

Windows
Ensure they open easily and do not squeak.
Clean.

Doors
Fix squeaks and any weather stripping damage.
Make sure handles work properly.
Address any stains.

Floor coverings
Try to remove all dirt and stains.
Address any damaged areas.

Walls, ceilings, baseboards
Clean away fingerprints or stains.
Repair holes, cracks, water damage.
If possible, repaint in fresh neutral colors.

Lighting
Verify that there is sufficient light and no burnt bulbs.
Fix any broken switches or exposed wires.

Pet areas
Make sure they are clean and odor free. You should also try to remove your pet from your home for the duration of the open house.

You would also want to ensure that all exterior areas are clean and tidy and that gates open easily. The lawn should be mowed, leaves removed and in winter, snow removed from driveway and walkway.

An open house can be a very powerful marketing tool in selling your home. It allows you access to potential buyers who may not be working with a Real Estate Agent. It also offer you the advantage of having a number of prospective buyers visit your home in a short period of time. Often times, an offer will be presented shortly after the open house.

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