The open house is a mainstay of the home selling process, but it can instill a sense of dread in homeowners. Preparing for an open house is a lot of work for an event that lasts a few hours. However, if you do open house prep right, you’ll have a home that’s clean and show-ready until the day you close. Before inviting buyers in, make sure you’ve handled these three jobs.
It’s a given that your house should be clean before hosting prospective buyers, but just how clean? While we’d all love a spotless home, it’s not feasible to maintain white-glove cleanliness when you’re still living in the house. At the same time, you don’t want buyers scared away due to preventable messes.
Schedule a deep-cleaning before listing your home. A full deep cleaning should include washing walls, trim, light fixtures, windows, and the inside of cupboards, along with your normal cleaning tasks. Soft surfaces such as carpets, upholstery, and window treatments should be thoroughly cleaned to remove stains and odors. If you have pets, that likely means hiring a professional carpet cleaning service that can apply heavy-duty cleaners to old pet stains. While you may not notice pet odors in your own home, if a buyer with a sensitive nose catches a whiff of stale urine, they’ll leave wondering what other pet damage is present.
It’s important to clean your home’s exterior as well. While washing siding, garage doors, porches, and driveways isn’t difficult, it is labor-intensive. Homeowners can rent a pressure washer for a weekend or hire professionals who already have the tools for the job. Again, pet owners should take extra care to eliminate outdoor urine stains and pet-damaged landscaping.
Staging and Organizing
Once your home is clean, it’s time to declutter, organize, and stage. Inventory furniture and decide what you can live without while your home is on the market. Most homes show better when they’re furnished, but not over-furnished, so while it’s good to have a sofa and coffee table, that antique secretary cabinet is probably better off in storage. In addition to large items, declutter bookshelves, mantles, countertops, and other surfaces. Select a few eye-catching pieces to leave out for decoration, but box up highly-personal decorations and knick knacks.
Avoid stuffing excess into closets, cupboards, and drawers. Serious buyers want to see storage areas to ensure there’s adequate space. If these spaces are cluttered and disorganized, buyers won’t be impressed. Instead, box up clutter to be stored off-site and organize what remains to maximize visual appeal. For inspiration, turn to Tidbits’ examples of organized and attractive storage spaces.
Your cleaning and organizing efforts should have your home looking the best it ever has — but the work isn’t done! There are a few tasks homeowners must do immediately before the open house to make it show-ready.
The day of the open house, open curtains and windows to air your home out and increase natural lighting. Even the cleanest homes can develop a stale odor, but a few minutes of fresh air make a big difference. Clear countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, placing countertop appliances and other everyday items in cabinets. Outside, remove cars and trash cans from the driveway and shoes from the front porch.
Homeowners with pets should arrange for boarding on the day of the open house. In addition to getting pets out of the house, pack up pet supplies and store them in your vehicle. As Forbes advises, not all buyers appreciate animals in a home, so it’s best to remove signs of pets.
Finally, set out a vase of fresh flowers and healthy snacks for guests to nibble on. Not only do buyers appreciate the attention to detail, but small touches like these give your home an aspirational quality that appeals to buyers.
Open house prep helps your home get the best price with the least amount of time on the market. As important as a successful home sale is, that’s not the only benefit of preparing for an open house. When you dive into deep cleaning and staging, you shift your mindset from homeowner to home seller — and a seller’s mindset is your most valuable tool for a successful sale.