When it comes to holding open houses in an attempt to sell your home, first impressions are often the only impressions you get the chance to make. While a perfect house will likely sell itself, most of us aren’t trying to sell perfect houses. We’re trying to sell great houses that need a bit of help to appear as perfect as possible on open house day. Follow this home prep schedule to make sure your home is as appealing as it can be when you host potential buyers.
A month out: enhance your curb appeal
Don’t get so caught up on making sure the interior of your home is perfect that you forget about perhaps the most important aspect of any home showing: the exterior. It’s the first thing potential buyers see when they drive up to your home, so you need to start with a great initial impression. Plus, curb appeal is incredibly important when taking photos of your home for online viewing. That’s what is going to get people to go to your open house in the first place.
Landscaping is an obvious way to boost curb appeal, but there are a few other ideas that will really make your home pop. Adding a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds, illuminating your entryway, and even adding a living fence that creates a natural barrier for privacy will make your home stand out against the competition. You should also make sure all walkways/driveways are clean and clear, and your front door area should get a lot of your attention. Repainting it isn’t a bad idea, especially if cleaning it doesn’t give it a fresh look.
A week out: deep cleaning
Unless you are a clean freak, what counts as “clean” to you is probably not good enough for an open house. Any little bit of dirt or grime or a foul odor can turn off a potential buyer in seconds. Your home needs to be as clean as it can be, and you can only do that through deep cleaning.
Areas to target include windows and window barriers, tile and grout, blinds, ceiling fans, and carpets. You should consider steam-cleaning rugs, carpets, and upholstery. Not only will this make it look cleaner than a simple vacuuming will, but it will help to eliminate odors. A major open house mistake that people make is thinking their homes will smell fine if they light a few candles. Remember that we get used to smells—especially our own. If you own pets, this step is an absolute must. Check out this resource for all of your deep-cleaning questions.
The day before: put clutter in its place
It’s not feasible to take every bit of clutter out of your home on the night before your open house, but you can take steps to get it organized. Baskets, bins, and shelves all help tame unruly clutter. Don’t just throw everything haphazardly into a closet; open house guests open closets all the time! If you must get some clutter out of the house, the garage is the best option. People expect garages to have a higher clutter threshold than other areas of your home. Start here for some total home organization tips.
The day of: final flourishes
It’s the day of your open house, and there’s no time for major fixes. You’re now putting makeup on your home. Some good ideas for this include baking cookies (not only for treats, but for the smell), adorning tables with fresh flowers (once again, beauty and scent), and removing personal items. Sure, your family is gorgeous and you love the political candidate you voted for, but potential home buyers don’t want the home to be too personalized. They want to be able to see their family in the space. Check here for more on depersonalizing your home.
Remember: this is likely your last shot with any potential home buyers that come through. If you’re going to catch a fish, an open house is your best bait. Start prepping a month or so out, and do what you can to turn your home into a place that anyone would want to live in. Most of the time, this means a home that is clean, odor-free, pretty outside and in, and depersonalized.
Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.