You finally made the jump and decided to take advantage of this market and sell you home. The realtor has worked with you to get your home ready for the market. You decided what needed to be done to the home to get the list price you desire. Your agent has gone over all the ins and outs of keeping the house looking good while showing the home to potential buyers. You have cleaned the clutter and resigned yourself to being great at cleaning. Your agent calls you on a Wednesday and asks if you want to do an open house this coming Sunday. You agree right away and then the agent says not to do anything different. She will just have to be there for a few hours Sunday afternoon to show the home to anyone who wants to see it. The next morning, you wake up thinking that there must be something you can do to help get ready for the open house. What do you do?
Luckily, you have us to help you by giving you five tidbits of advice on what you can do as the seller to get the house ready for the open house. It doesn’t hurt anything if you don’t do these things, but you want to be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and have the best chance to impress the buyers. It is important to realize that some open houses will only see one or two families come see the house in the two hour time frame. All it takes, however, is one impressed buyer to get an offer on your house. It is well worth your effort to get the house ready for the open house if it can sell your home.
Once you get done reading over this list, be sure to check out our Frequent questions to consider when selling your home for additional hints about what you can do during any stage of the home selling business. Spread the word and let all your family and friends know about this page. We would love to help them get their own house ready to be sold. You can even get a gift card for referring your friends and family to us (they have to close on a house for you to get the gift card).
Without further ado, here are give things you can do before an open house to sell your home.
1. Get the house deep cleaned again – Buyers are picky and critical by nature. They are especially very critical of any property they see that does not look like it has been cleaned by a maid for the duration of the seller’s stay in the house. Buyers will notice a dirty house very quickly. Hopefully, your agent told you this and highly recommend a good deep clean by a maid service, which can run you a couple of hundred dollars. You can do the deep clean yourself, but you have to admit that dirt can become invisible if you look at it every day. An objective person coming in to clean your home is the best approach. With an open house, you should go ahead and have the maid service come do a touch up of the deep clean, which will be about half the original clean. Yes. It is expensive, but hopefully well worth it so buyers are looking at the house itself and not your inability to keep the house clean. Is this worth it since there is a chance of low attendance? We believe so as if you get two families coming through the house, you received the equivalent of two showings, which means you have a chance of getting an offer.
2. Mow and Weed – First impressions are as important during an open house as they are during showings. You want to be sure that your lawn is cut and trimmed. The flower beds should be weeded and the hedges evened out with each other. I always love to see some color in front of the house as well. If the season allows for it, this can be accomplished with some pretty flowers in the flower bed. If you can’t do this, see if you have some colorful outside decoration available to impress buyers. If you don’t have anything on hand, take a trip to local retail store to pick up something cheap. I have seen many interior decorators stage homes with items from At Home and Target. It doesn’t have to expensive, just something to liven up the curb appeal enough to impress the buyers.
3. Bake some cookies – Nothing will kill an open house more quickly than an unwanted odor. I hosted one open house where there was one spot upstairs that you could smell the cat litter box. The rest of the home smelled great, but the one spot on the stairs leading up to the second story really ruined the illusion for all the buyers. Smells kills deals. The old advice to bake some cookies for buyers actually makes really good sense, because it can often push out any other odor. If you are not a baker, then any of the market smell dispensers will work to drive away unwanted smells. My wife uses a little device she bought at Target that emits odors throughout the house. It really does smell good. Here is a list of what I am talking about at Amazon.
4. Write a letter to buyers visiting – I have not had a seller do this myself, but I have seen it at open houses as a buyer’s agent. Sellers should give some consideration to writing a welcome letter to their open house visitors. This letter can be placed in the kitchen. This letter should thank the buyer for visiting. You might mention some things you love about the house and why you are having to move. If you can give some insider tips to the neighborhood, and the surrounding area, like where you shop, parks, and the location of your various doctor/vet/dentist offices. I know when my buyers find these letters in the open house, they are impressed the seller took the time to write the letter. In other words, there is little bad in providing a welcome and thank you to buyers coming to your open house.
5. Develop a plan for getting out of the house – I don’t mean if the buyers try to hold you hostage. I mean what you need to do to get out of the house for the two to three hours while your agent is hosting the event. What will you do? I recommend if you have kids that you make a family outing out of it and go find something to do all afternoon. If you just go to the local McDonalds to hang out, you kids will get bored quickly. If you have pets, it is best to either take them with you or kennel them somewhere. Buyers will want full access to the property and having your pets in the garage or backyard will prevent many buyers from exploring to their heart’s content. Be sure to speak to your agent about the time frame for the open house. I tend to like to get to open houses about thirty minutes before to get ready. If you are still there trying to pick up to get out, it can be very distracting and difficult for the agent to do what they need to do. Finally, have your agent text or call you when the event is over. If the event is successful, your agent might need some extra time at the end to wrap things up. After all you are trying to sell your home, it should be fine for the agent to show the home to some additional buyers if the buyers show up close to the scheduled end.