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10 Must-Dos The Day You Show Your House

ForSaleByOwner April 25, 2024

The “for sale” sign is up. You’ve completed the big projects and the little tweaks, and you’re hopeful that your efforts will pay off with a quick and profitable offer. Now comes the critical part of selling your home: introducing it to potential buyers with a showing or open house. First impressions are everything – a good one can result in more exposure for your sale or an offer at or above asking price. But a bad one can directly translate into lowball offers or, worse, no offers at all. Before opening the door to potential buyers, follow these tips to make sure your home is ready to wow.

1. Detach From The Stuff

Home experts agree the first and most important step to a successful showing is to emotionally separate from the house and the objects within it.

Letting go of your emotional connections to the items inside your home will make you more objective about any necessary changes and more open to real estate agent and buyer feedback. It also helps you stage the home in a way that allows potential buyers to picture themselves living in it.

On the day of your showing, double-check foyer tables, fireplace mantels and refrigerator doors, which are popular display spots for loads of personal items, like children’s artwork, photos and trophies.

2. Make Sure The Home Is Spotless

Cleanliness seems like such an obvious tip, but the lack of it is often one of the biggest complaints agents hear from buyers. Hopefully, you’ve done the big scrub leading up to your open house. This includes getting your carpets steamed, mopping your floors, wiping down windows and scouring your appliances. On the day of your showing, wipe down and inspect every item and surface you use so you don’t overlook small details like crumbs on the table from breakfast, toothpaste remnants in the sink or half full trash cans. Do a quick walk-through of your home, making sure to stop in rooms you don’t frequent to catch any rogue dust bunnies as well.

Imagine what you’d want to see when you visit a home or hotel: straightened bedspreads and tucked in sheets, wiped down surfaces and fresh, clean towels neatly hung on the rack.

3. Make Sure It Smells Clean

Besides a home’s visual appeal, nothing triggers more comments from potential buyers than the way a house smells. Diffuse cooking, pet and musty odors by airing out your home with open windows or air purifiers before the showing, and avoid cooking anything in your kitchen the night before and the day of your showing.

Comforting smells like freshly baked cookies or brewing coffee can be appealing to most potential buyers. Travis Gray, real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, recommendsfresh, clean smells or playing up the particular season. “I always recommend fresh flowers, and cider on the stove is a nice touch in the colder months,” he says.

Beware of spray scents, candles or other artificially scented products. Some scents could trigger allergies or migraines, creating a negative experience for sensitive buyers. Avoid too strong of a scent as well. That could lead people to believe you’re using it to mask an odor or hide something else.

Don’t forget that pet food, toys, litter boxes and blankets may also have distinct smells, so stow these items or take them out of the house during showings.

4. Remove Distracting Or Obstructive Items

Artists, architects and designers are well versed in the simple trick of drawing the eye to something appealing, whether it’s a bold color, unique feature or gorgeous view. Eliminate items such as knickknacks, toys, small appliances and bath products that distract the eye, block a view or, worse, make spaces look smaller.

Though many rugs add warmth and color, consider rolling them up if they break up a room or if they obscure attractive selling points like stunning hardwood floors or beautiful tile work.

Have bins or baskets on hand to quickly clear off countertops, floors, tables and desks. “It’s a lot easier to put away one or two small bins than it is to have to find a spot for 15 different toiletry items,” says Annie Pinsker-Brown, owner of Stage to Sell in Los Angeles.

5. Improve Traffic Flow

When your home is arranged to perfectly fit your lifestyle, it can be hard to realize that it may not make the most sense to outsiders. For example, the coat rack by the kitchen door may be practical for your family, but it can look like poor storage to a potential buyer. You may be used to walking around the oversized ottoman, but others may trip over it or see it as an obstruction.

To prevent this from happening, look at each room and consider whether it seems like an obstacle course or if anything seems out of place. Better yet, have someone else walk through the home and point out anything that impedes the natural flow of traffic or doesn’t make good use of the space. Then, rearrange or remove those items completely to improve the flow.

Be careful with removing too many items though. Too little furniture can be just as bad as too much. One or two items sitting in an otherwise vacant and large family room might prompt buyers to worry they’ll never be able to furnish the whole space. If needed, repurpose pieces from spare rooms to comfortably fill out an area.

6. Create The “Goldilocks Effect”

Create an atmosphere that’s “just right” by adjusting your home’s temperature to a comfortable setting and opening the curtains and blinds to let natural light pour in. Kick the comfort up a notch by lettingin the pleasant ambient sounds of birds chirping outside or by playing quiet, calming music in the background.

7. Provide And Obtain More Info

Lay out flyers with basic information about the home, a list of unique features and an attractive listing photo or two. You can use this document to add a personal touch to the sale, like providing a few sentences about what you love most about the home. Make sure your name, contact information and online listing address are somewhere on the flyer as well, so people know how to find more information or get in touch with you.

If you don’t have their contact information already, invite guests to leave their name and contact information on a sign-in sheet so you can follow up with them after the open house.

Place these items by the door so guests can fill out their information and take a flyer while they enter or leave the home. Or, if you’re providing refreshments or swag, place the documents near the goodies where they won’t be missed.

8. Protect Your Valuables

Whether it’s an invitation-only showing or a large opening for the masses, it’s important to safeguard valuables, personal information and other sensitive items. Thieves like to walk away with inconspicuous items they can fit in their pockets, so store small valuables like money, jewelry and prescription medications in a safe or hide them in a hard-to-reach spot. And don’t forget to protect financial statements and documents, recommends Pinsker-Brown. Put all documents in a locked file cabinet or desk drawer and make sure you shred and remove any documents you throw away. Don’t forget about your electronic info either. “Shut off and password protect your computers,” recommends Pinsker-Brown. If your computer is a laptop, lock it up or keep it in your possession during the showing.

9. Be Polite And Helpful, But Not Pushy

If you don’t have a real estate agent to run the open house or showing, it will be your responsibility to welcome your visitors, direct them where to go and field any questions they may have. Greet your guests with a smile, provide a brief explanation of what makes your home special, tell them where specific rooms are located and let them know you’ll be around to answer any questions they may have. Then allow them to tour the home on their own. You don’t want potential buyers to feel pressured or uncomfortable touring your home while they discuss what they like and don’t like about the home. Give them their space and remember that they’ll come to you if they have any questions. Be ready to answer any questions they may have, and if you don’t have the answer, let them know you’ll look into it and get back to them with an answer as soon as possible.

Make sure you thank them for stopping by, let them know you’re looking forward to hearing from them and say goodbye. The day after your open house, follow up with each visitor separately by sending a nice email thanking them for coming and providing a link to your online listing.

10. Make It Easy To Find Your Home

You can’t have a successful open house if no one can find your home. On the day of your showing, place an “Open House” sign in your front yard and tie balloons in an eye-catching color to the sign to get their attention. You should also place a few signs at several intersections. Make sure they include your address in a large font and feature arrows that can help them navigate the neighborhood. Not only will signs help people find the open house, but they may also draw in other potential buyers who just happen to be passing through the neighborhood.

Showing potential buyers your home is an important part of the selling process, but there are several other steps you’ll need to take to get the sale. For additional help, check out the rest of We provide guidance every step of the way so you can successfully sell your home on your terms.