Getting Your House Ready to Sell and Preparing for an Open House

If you want to sell your house more quickly, open houses can often be the key. To be effective, you need to prepare and you also need to make your house stand out from all of the other houses that might've been seen that day. These tips can be the secret to increasing your home's appeal (and asking price).

As you go through your checklist, it's important in this process to look at your house through the eyes of a potential buyer. You want to make your home inviting and welcoming.

Outside – Curb Appeal

  • Mow and edge the lawn a couple of days before the showing.
  • Trim shrubs and trees as needed.
  • Pick up any debris and straighten up shabby flowerbeds. Replace mulch.
  • If it is winter, make sure to shovel and remove any snow from driveways and walkways.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the exterior of the house if it needs it. At minimum, powerwash it.
  • Gutters should be clean and not overflowing with leaves and debris.
  • Make sure the front door and front porch are immaculate.

Inside – Home Sweet Home

  • Clean. Everything. Spotless. Think visit from the mother-in-law.
  • Make sure the temperature in every room of the house is comfortable.
  • Let in the light. Open window shades and curtains to allow the sunshine to come in. Use artificial light as well by turning on lights and lamps.
  • All rooms, storage areas, and surfaces should be neat, well-organized, and clutter-free.
  • Focus a lot of energy on your kitchen and bathrooms. Sinks (and tubs/showers) clean and sparkling. Drawers and cabinets neatly organized and working properly.
  • Everything should be in proper working order. Any and all repairs, no matter how minor, need to be done before your open house.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the interior of your house. Stay with white or neutral colors.
  • Flooring and walls should be exposed as much as possible. You don't want the buyers to feel like you're hiding something, and clutter will only make the rooms feel smaller anyway. Lean towards a minimalist look. Put some things in storage if need be.
  • If you have pets, put them away during the open house. Ideally, arrange to have them elsewhere for the day.
  • The same goes for family photos. You want the potential buyers to be able to visualize your home as their own.
  • Play soft classical or "elevator" type music to help buffer any traffic or other unappealing background sounds.
  • Fresh cut flowers are a nice touch to make the house feel cheery.
  • Neutralize rooms as much as possible.
  • Bake something yummy that smells like "home" earlier in the day (leave enough time to clean up!). This Egg-Free Banana Bread Recipe is a perfect way to fragrance the air. Alternatively, clean-smelling room sprays such as the natural citrus ones work nicely to freshen rooms.

When you're selling your house, you want to make the house feel like it's on display…it is afterall. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the house, so it's important to not have the house look "taken" or too lived in. As you're cleaning and preparing for the open house, walk the path that potential buyers will walk…from the street to the driveway to the front door to the entryway and through every room…look at everything with the same critical eye the average buyer will.

Here's a printable checklist as a reminder of things to check:

[ ] Paint, exterior
[ ] Siding
[ ] Roof, gutters, downspouts
[ ] Bushes and trees
[ ] Flowerbeds
[ ] Grass
[ ] Porch
[ ] Deck
[ ] Garage
[ ] Exterior lights
[ ] House numbers
[ ] Driveway and walkways
[ ] Front door
[ ] Paint, interior
[ ] Appliances
[ ] Ceilings
[ ] Light fixtures and ceiling fans
[ ] Dust furniture
[ ] All floors, carpets, rugs
[ ] Windows
[ ] Surfaces clean and clutter-free
[ ] Cabinets and drawers
[ ] Faucets and toilets
[ ] Grout and caulking


Best wishes!

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