Real Estate Agents put a lot of effort into open house preparation, but owners can also contribute significantly toward making a positive impact on potential buyers who visit their home. Home-selling basics such as removing clutter, making repairs and neutralizing colors should already be completed before the property goes on the market, so let’s look at a list of easy, last minute items owners can take care of that will increase buyer interest.
Thorough cleaning makes surfaces shine, windows sparkle and most daily household odors disappear. If you can’t clean the home yourself, consider hiring a service that is available to do a deep cleaning the day before the open house.
A complete yard service the day before an open house improves curb appeal. Freshly mowed grass, colorful flowers and clipped hedges set the stage for the quality that awaits inside. If you typically care for the lawn and garden yourself – no problem. However, consider using a professional yard service contractor if you are unavailable the day before the open house. Scrub down driveways and have the pool and spa cleaned, too.
Remove vehicles from the driveway and garage. The two or three car family is becoming common, but cars, trucks, motor homes and even boats on trailers are vehicular clutter that should not be present during an open house. Like any other clutter, they could hide positive features or make the property appear small.
Add flowers. It’s common for vacant homes to be staged with furniture and knickknacks, including fake flowers for color. Sellers still residing in their homes should consider putting out fresh flowers on the day of their open house. Pick colors that conform to the home’s color scheme or draw attention to positive features. Check with your agent to make sure flower fragrances don’t clash with what they have planned to enhance the home’s appeal on open house day (e.g. baking cookies or bread, simmering apple cider with cinnamon sticks on the stove top).
If you have a home telephone (land line) and use an answering machine for messages or to screen calls, remember to mute the volume on the answering machine.
For security, lock up valuables. Expensive items often left on desks or counter tops that could be easily removed by thieves during a busy open house are laptop computers, tablets (e.g. iPad) and small jewelry chests that double as decorative furnishings.
Take pets off-site with you during the open house. Even if the dog has its own fenced area, it can be a distraction. If you have a fish tank that obviously can’t be moved, remember to clean the tank the day before the open house, too.
Work with your agent to create spaces for a photo opportunity. A tactic commonly used for selling any type of real estate is a signature photograph. The photo could show the front of the property, a special room, or a view that greatly enhances the value of the home. When possible, create a space where open house guests can have their picture taken with the signature space or view in the background. The photo is emailed to the guest later to not only remind them of their visit, but also to create a mental image wherein they see themselves living in the home. Furniture may need to be moved temporarily, but the photo op can be a powerful selling tool.
Opinions held by real estate professionals vary on this final tip, but I recommend that sellers de-personalize their home. This means taking down family portraits and removing anything that identifies the owner. Open house visitors may feel they are intruding when confronted by family pictures and personal items throughout the home. They are obviously not intruding, they are invited guests. The purpose of the open house, however, is for potential buyers to envision their family living in the home and seeing evidence of another family already there works counter to that purpose.
Successful open house preparation is a collaboration between seller and agent that makes a positive impression on potential buyers and generates offers. Little things like those identified above can contribute greatly to open house success. Sellers, look at your home and make a checklist of items you can take care of before walking out the door on open house day.
About Real Living with Broker John™
Each week Real Living with Broker John™ provides innovative tips and information regarding all aspects of owning, buying and selling real estate. John Souerbry is Broker/Owner of Cordon Real Estate, a full service brokerage in California’s San Francisco Bay Area (CA BRE 01370983). Contact John with questions or comments regarding Real Living or real estate in Wine Country, East Bay and Silicon Valley.
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