Tips for a Successful Open House

Your REALTOR® will likely recommend you hold at least one or more open houses for the general public.

Chances are your open house for the public will be held on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon since that’s when most people are likely to have free time for cruising around the neighborhoods they are interested in. 

Although you may be curious, it’s a good idea for you and your family to leave the home during an open house. Your presence could be distracting and potential buyers may rush their visit to avoid disturbing you. They may be hesitant to comment on your home while you are there, and generally feel more relaxed if the owner is not present.

I would also suggest you temporarily remove any dog, cat or other family pets from the property since their presence could also be distracting.

Here are some tips for a successful Open House:

  • Remove or lock away valuables such as jewelry, cameras, compact discs, valuable coins and currency.
  • Attend to any potential hazards — electrical wires crossing open areas, sharp table or counter top corners, slippery stairs and walkways, fragile items that can be easily damaged.
  • In poor weather, provide a place for overshoes, boots, umbrellas and coats.
  • Avoid cooking food with strong odors such as fish. 
  • A warm fire on a cold day can be a nice touch.
  • Fresh flowers and scented candles can add a wonderful fresh scent to your home.

Spruce it up!
Often the smallest defect can be a turn-off to some potential buyers. Use this handy check list to assess what needs cleaning, mending or changing before the big day:

Floor coverings
(Includes carpeting, tile, linoleum, hardwood, etc.)

  • Dirty or stained?
  • Worn or damaged?
  • Is there hardwood under carpeting that can be restored?

Walls, ceilings, baseboards

  • Any fingerprints or stains?
  • Any holes, nails, tape residue?
  • Are they all neutral or complimentary colors?


  • Do they squeak?
  • Are the handles secure and work properly?
  • Any stains or other damage?


  • Are they clean and crack free?
  • Do they open easily?
  • Are the coverings clean and also easy to open?


  • Is there sufficient light?
  • Any broken switches; exposed wiring?

Pet areas

  • Are these clean, organized and odor free?

Kitchen and bathrooms

  • Are countertops organized?
  • Are all sinks and faucets working properly?

Other rooms

  • Have all areas been thoroughly vacuumed and dusted?
  • Has all clutter, including excess furniture, been collected and removed?
  • Are books, toys, clothes all neatly stored?
  • Do mirrors look clean?
  • Are window coverings open?

Outside the home

  • Are all exterior surfaces, including decks, pools, walkways and driveways clean, clear of clutter and in good condition?
  • Do fence and other gates open easily?
  • Are the lawns mowed, walkways clear of snow, leaves removed, trees pruned, gardens weeded, hedges trimmed?

If you are selling your home, you want to be able to sell as fast as possible. Scheduling an Open House allows would-be buyers to look at your home at a given day and time. It gives you exposure to agents scouting for places for their clients and to those buyers who are house hunting in your area.

Make your house sparkle, make a good first impression that lasts right to the settlement table.

Permission to reprint granted/Copyright OREA, source Ontario Real Estate Association

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