Before opening your house to what is hopefully a throng of onlookers, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance for a sale. And, while we’re at it, let’s also protect you from the strangers you’ll be opening your house to.
5 Ways to Prepare for an Open House
1. Look at things like you’re seeing them for the first time
We become blind to our surroundings, don’t we? We stop seeing the piece of trim that’s damaged or weathered on the door frame. We don’t realize how dirty that one wall is until we wipe of a splatter. Suddenly the freshly wiped area gleams and the rest of the wall is revealed to be dingy. Soon we find ourselves up to our elbows in spring cleaning the walls we thought were clean.
We’ve all been there.
The people coming to your open house however, won’t be blind. They’ll see it all.
That’s why I always tell my clients to tour their home, trying to see it as if for the first time. Start with the first thing visitors will see; the front door.
Look at it. Examine it. As you give your eyes a moment to adjust, your vision will change and you’ll suddenly see the mailbox has oxidized and looks quite rusty. You’ll notice the broken pane of glass on the light, which also happens to be askew. Oh, and the spider webs…!
That’s the first impression people will have of your home.
Tour the entire place with fresh eyes, then start making things better.
2. Become a Minimalist (at least temporarily)
Buyers will go through your closet. They’ll look in cupboards. If they can walk into a home where someone has pared down a bit, there’s actually space to see the hangers and rod and shelves, and they can envision their own clothes and stuff there. They’ll feel like there’s room to grow.
Slim down the closets by getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or that you hate and will never wear anyway and, please donate them instead of throwing them out. Pack away off season clothing and footwear.
It might also help to think of this. When buyers see two homes of similar size and vintage, one that has space and one that looks heavily crammed with stuff, they’re going to prefer the cleaned out one.
3. Protect Yourself from Thieves and Spies
Unfortunately, the truth is, when you open your home to complete strangers, thieves and spies are allowed in, too. By spies, I mean people neighbors, buyers or their friends or families that could come under the veil of looker gathering information on you for a future offer, perhaps if you are named in (or will be named in) a lawsuit, a CFS case, a divorce proceeding, or anything else people gather intel for. Don't be so quick to discount this. I have had calls to show a home, not doing so once my preliminary questioning uncovered an alterior motive. Open houses can be a legal mine field. Let's not even talk about how everyone and their 6 year old have a smartphone (photo or video anyone!).
And thieves, well, they’re not just interested in the gold rings in your jewelery box. They’re casing the place; noticing your electronics, what kind of alarm system you have and where it is, and also can coordinate with the calendar you’ve so kindly left out detailing your family fishing trip or kids sports events.
Despite the risks, the opportunity for virtual tours, and the privacy of one-on-one showings, open houses continue to be seen as part of the sales process.
Sometimes I’m not sure why.
They were a fantastic method a decade or two ago, but times have changed. Open houses don’t get the quality traffic they used to. (here’s a funny video about that) Still, buyers continue to request it as part of their agent’s marketing efforts. The classics die hard, I suppose.
And I’ll gladly oblige, of course. I love meeting whoever does come to an open house, and I go long and far to make sure my clients are the happiest I can make them. So, when it comes time for an open house, I provide advice like this to protect and prepare.
Have an open house. It’s okay. Just protect yourself and set yourself up for the best selling experience possible.