8 Tips for a Successful Open House

Boost your home's value with these easy fixes before showing it off.

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If your home is on the market, then you may already know that you're about to enter the high season for buyers. Spring, summer and fall are when most people look for, and buy, homes. In fact, April through July is when the majority of homes change hands, with June traditionally being the strongest month for home sales.

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Selling your home in a down market isn't easy. To boost sales potential, it's likely that your real estate agent might want to stage an open house during the busy buying season, especially if you live in an area that's seeing an upswing in prices and home sales. This means it's up to you to make sure your open house impresses as many potential buyers as possible.

So, what can you do to make the most of your open house? Follow these eight tips to create a buyer-friendly atmosphere.

1. Spruce Up the Yard

You've probably heard time and time again that curb appeal is one of  the most important factors when it comes to selling your home. The experts keep repeating this mantra for a reason: you really don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure your yard landscaping and the exterior of your home look amazing. Plant flowers in brightly-colored pots, make sure the grass is cut and edged, and place a fresh layer of mulch in the beds. Clean up any random debris (e.g. those bricks you always meant to use for a new patio have to go) or toys that may be lying around. Lastly, take a look at your front door. Would it benefit from a fresh coat of paint? It's easy to overlook a flaking door frame or rusty railings with everything you have going on, but these little details can make a world of difference.

2. Invest in a New Doormat

It may sound silly, but think about this: When you're about to enter a home, what do you do? You look down, and wipe your feet on the doormat. If your current doormat is dingy and used, buy a nice one for the open house. A bright, fresh doormat subtly tells buyers you care about the home. Remember to pay attention to other aspects of your entryway as well. Don't leave shoes on the floor for visitors to stumble on, and get rid of that stack of mail on the hall table.

3. Clear the Clutter

Make sure every surface of your home is clean and clear of clutter. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Kitchen: This is especially true in the kitchen. Buyers like to see uncluttered counter tops because it's easier for them to envision how their own appliances would fit. So take away the coffee pot, the juicer, the blender, and anything else you usually leave sitting out.
  • Bathroom: Put away all personal items, including toothbrushes and toiletries.
  • Bedrooms and Living Area: It's important to pack away personal items like family photos, trophies, and anything else that might prevent buyers from imagining themselves in the house.
  • For more guidance on making your home spotless, check these house spring cleaning tips and checklist.

    4. Organize Closets and Storage Spaces

    Remember, storage space is a key concern for most home buyers. They want to be able to clearly see what your home has to offer. Nobody wants to open a closet door and have a pile of stuff fall on them. Clean out any extraneous items and make sure these spaces are well-organized. It may even be worth investing in some shelving and stackable bins to really show off the potential of the space.

    5. Set the Table

    Arrange the dining room table with your most interesting tableware. For an added touch of class, add some fresh flowers and candles. If you do your diligence here, buyers will find themselves picturing what it would be like to entertain in the home.

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    6. Leave Out Goodies

    You want your home to feel inviting and welcoming. There's no better way to make potential buyers feel at home then to offer them some delicious treats during the open house. Plus, if you do a little baking beforehand (even if it's throwing "slice and bake" cookies in the oven), the house will smell amazing. Put out a plate of cookies or brownies, or individually-wrapped candies or chocolates. Offer bottled water, hot cocoa (if it's a wet, cold spring day), or a carafe of lemonade.

    7. Leave Flyers and FAQ Sheets

    An informational flyer with one or more attractive, high quality photos of your home can be a great selling tool. Not only will this help your home stay "top of mind" once people leave, but flyers and FAQ pages also allow you to offer insider information about the neighbors, the local school system, and any other benefits to the area.

    8. Make Yourself Scarce

    You shouldn't be home during an open house. If you're absent, buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions to the realtor, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of your home. You'll also feel better not having to hear all of the potential buyers' opinions first hand. Find something fun to do that will take your mind off of things. And if you have pets, make sure you take them with you.

    Final Thoughts

    Remember, you want buyers to feel comfortable as they're walking around your home. The day before your open house, do a walk through. Try to pretend you're looking at the home for the first time. Is the furniture easy to navigate around? Are there any cords someone could trip over? Are there any strange or unpleasant smells? The closer you analyze your home, the better impression you'll likely give to potential buyers. What appeals to you when you attend an open house? Where do you think sellers should focus their efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

    Heather Levin is a featured columnist for Money Crashers, one of the top personal finance blogs focused on educating readers about various money management topics. Heather also promotes green living through the blog, The Greenest Dollar.