Tips For A Successful Open House!


Staging, repairing and generally prepping your home for sale is a must in today's market.

Buyers really want turn-key these days, if a buyer can actually get a loan right now, they're so strapped after they purchase a property that they literally just want to move in and live. Even if they want to make upgrades later on, they want to feel like they're getting the best value possible. So give it to them!

So how do you make your home open-house ready? Depending on your home's current condition, it can be a large, overwhelming job, so you'll want to stay organized, take it slow and work step-by-step.


Tips for a Successful Open House

Let go emotionally!!! 

The moment you put your house up for sale, it becomes a product, so you have to train yourself to stop thinking about it as your home. What I suggest sellers to start doing is calling it their property instead of their home.

Tackle the big projects first!

Replacing Flooring
Flooring is an important update that sellers are often reluctant to make. Some sellers choose to offer a credit instead of replacing their flooring, but that's not an effective strategy.

Giving buyers a credit is not going to have the same effect as doing it for them because they only know what they see, and they focus on the negative.

Try cleaning your flooring first, but if it's worn or stained beyond repair, replace it. You don't have to go with top-of-the-line options here unless you're selling a high-end home. Any neutral-colored carpet or even peel-and stick linoleum tiles for a kitchen or bathroom will make a big difference.

Updating Light Fixtures
Light fixtures are the jewelry of a home. They really make a big difference, and they're also one of the first things to date a property. You can pretty much tell when a house was built or when it was last renovated by the type of light fixtures that are in it.

So what can you do about those circa-1986 brass chandeliers? You could buy some inexpensive, contemporary fixtures, or if you're really on a budget, you can simply revamp your old fixtures with a can of spray paint.

A fresh coat of paint on your interior walls is by far one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home show well. When choosing a paint color, think neutral (warm beige or pale green), not bland (stark white). Whatever you do, don't just leave your bright magenta bedroom as-is. You may love it, but most buyers won't feel the same way. Paint can also work wonders on outdated or cheap cabinetry. Just rolling on some paint can instantly update your kitchen and make it look more high-end.

Fixing What's Broken
Remember all the little home maintenance projects you've been putting off for years? Now's the time to do them. Make sure all broken windows, leaky faucets and non-functioning light switches are in working order before your open house.

Hone in on the details!

This is a no-brainer. If potential buyers walk into your open house and see dust on the coffee table and soap scum in your showers, say goodbye to your chances of making a sale. Cleaning your home from top to bottom is a cheap and (relatively) easy way to make your home show much better during your open house. Pay special attention to your kitchen and bathrooms -- those tend to get dirty the fastest.

De-cluttering and Depersonalizing
Personal items like family photos and knickknacks are distracting and need to be put away before your open house. Just think of it as getting a head start on your packing. Don't forget to clean out and organize closets and storage space. Buyers will look there too, and messy, overflowing closets give the impression that your home doesn't have enough storage space. Removing seasonal items -- like winter coats and holiday decorations if you're selling in the spring -- is a good place to start. You can also pack up and donate items you have in duplicate and clothes and toys your kids have grown out of.

Front Yard and Entryway 
Even though it's not actually a room, don't overlook these areas. Sprucing up your yard and your home's entrance is essential because it's the first thing buyers see, so you need to impress them off the bat.

  • Keep your lawn mowed and well-maintained. Consider hiring someone to take care of this for you while you're dealing with the other details of selling.
  • Plant some bright, colorful flowers.
  • Replace a grungy, old welcome mat with a clean, new one.
  • Give the front door a fresh coat of paint.
  • Replace old, faded house numbers with new ones.
  • Clean out your gutters and pressure wash your home's siding. If your home's exterior isn't well-maintained, buyers will think you've slacked off throughout the rest of the house as well.

Living Room
The living room (or the first room buyers see when they enter your home) is another one that needs to have the "wow" factor. Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to living rooms.  Most people have more than enough things, so it's really about editing what you have and moving things around.

  • Remove large furniture, like huge sectional sofas.
  • Arrange furniture to create a focal point, perhaps around a fireplace or a large window.
  • Don't push your furniture all the way against the walls.
  • If your sofa or chairs are not in great shape, disguise them with slipcovers or luxurious throws -- a much cheaper option than buying brand new furniture.

Kitchens and the bathrooms never look good naked; they always look better dressed up. Once your kitchen is spotlessly clean, give it some style.

  • Remove magnets and photos off the refrigerator.
  • Clear off your countertops, except for the essentials. If you use your coffee machine every day, it's OK to have it out on the counter, but you don't want your countertops to be a display of every small appliance you own.
  • Add stylish accessories, tying them together with a theme. For instance, you could go with a pasta theme and decorate the space with an Italian cookbook, decorative bottles of oil and glass jars filled with colorful pasta.
  • Use greenery to fill in empty corners and add color.

A good rule of thumb when staging your bedrooms is to emulate a hotel room -- emphasize luxury and comfort.

  • Turn your master bedroom into a proper master bedroom: no extra beds for the kids, no workspaces, no every day, nice-to-have things that don't really belong in a bedroom.
  • Cover your everyday bedding with luxurious bedding or a nice throw. You don't have to spend a lot of money here -- discount stores have plenty of inexpensive options that look high-end.
  • If your mattresses are sitting on the floor, buy or rent bed frames to lift them up.

Like the kitchen, your bathrooms will show a whole lot better with a little bit of style.

  • Put away your everyday towels and replace them with new towels. Also add a new shower curtain and fresh, fancy soap.
  • Hide toothbrushes and other toiletries in baskets or other storage containers. This keeps them easily accessible, but lets you stow them away quickly before an open house.
  • Dress up the space with some candles or a silk flower arrangement.

For many people, the backyard serves as a dumping ground. Clean this space up and make it a place where buyers can see themselves spending time.

  • Add furniture -- a bistro table and two chairs for a smaller area or a dining set for large yards.

Stage it as a place for entertaining.


IT’S HERE: the big day of your open house! Here are some finishing touches.  Your home should be in tip-top condition and ready for potential buyers. Don't forget these last-minute details:

  • Set out vases of fresh-cut flowers. They'll make your home smell nice and add a splash of color.
  • Let in the light. Buyers want a bright, open house, not a dark and dreary cave. Turn on all the lights and open all the curtains.
  • Adjust the temperature. Keep the home comfortable -- not too cold or too hot.
  • Serve food and drinks. A cold glass of lemonade in the summer or some warm, freshly baked cookies in the winter will encourage buyers to stick around longer, giving them more time to check out your home.
  • Safeguard your stuff. Stash valuables and prescription medications in a safe place.
  • Leave! You're probably proud of how fantastic your house looks right now, but don't stick around to point this out to buyers. The last thing you want to do is make them feel uncomfortable. Spend the day out and about and let your perfectly prepped home sell itself!

Again, let go emotionally of your home, and get ready for an offer!

Lori Ferber
Sales Representative
Century21 Home Realty Inc.; Brokerage

Direct Line: 519-503-5430



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CENTURY 21 Heritage House Ltd., Brokerage*
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