Preparing Your Home for Sale Selling a Home

Hosting An Open House: Tips For Marketing Your Home

Once you’ve listed your home online and posted your yard sign, an open house can be a great way to add marketing exposure to your sale. During their home search, two out of every five buyers attend open houses at some point. In addition to advertising, an open house can help you manage showings and might even lead to a bidding war. Here’s what you need to know to attract more buyers to your showing.

1. Do The Research

Before you stage your home and create your advertising campaign, take a look at homes for sale in your area. Tour open houses if you can, paying attention to the staging and features. How do the real estate agents talk about the home, and how do buyers react? Use this information to help you prepare.

2. Stage For Success

If you haven’t cleaned, decluttered and depersonalized already, then now is the time. Be thoughtful about how you want your home to appear and what it will take to get it there. Start big by evaluating any major upgrades or repairs you’ll need to make and then work your way to cleaning and arranging furniture.

Just before the open house, consider taking your pets to a friend’s house for the day and hiding your valuables, medication and other personal items. Some sellers even set out refreshments for a cozy touch.

3. Set A Date

Open houses are typically held on weekend mornings. As you research other homes for sale in your area, find out when they’re holding open houses. Schedule yours for the same day so you can benefit from the foot traffic.

4. Advertise Your Home

There are a few ways to advertise your open house, and it starts with posting signs in your front yard and around the neighborhood. You can also advertise in your local newspaper, on public bulletin boards and even at apartment complexes. Then, move to your online advertising:

  • Advertise online: As much as 90% of buyers use the internet to find a home, so your online ads will be critical. You can create a home listing at free websites such as Craigslist, Yahoo! Classifieds, and Google Merchant Center. Remember to include your home description, photos and the date and time of your open house.
  • Use social media: Many buyers find their next home through word of mouth, so social media should be your go-to platform. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok can put your advertisement in front of thousands of potential buyers – and best of all, it’s free. A few weeks before the open house, post your home description and photos on the social media accounts you typically use. Include the date and time of the open house, and make the post shareable so your friends can help spread the word. Your social media sales kit can also give you some direction here.

5. Invite Your Friends, Neighbors And Co-workers

You can do this both online and in person. First create an open house event on Facebook and invite your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to help you spread the word. If you’re not connected through social media, then invite them in person or via email. You might even hold a special preview for them to help you prepare and give honest feedback.

6. Create A Property Summary

Make a property flyer – also called a property summary – and leave it at the entry of your home. Make sure it highlights all of the features that make your house unique and helps buyers imagine what it would be like to live in your neighborhood. Here are some ideas of what to include:

  • Property address and at least one photo of the exterior
  • Asking price
  • Your name and email address
  • A brief description of the home
  • Recent upgrades and special features
  • Property taxes
  • Square footage and number of beds/baths
  • Neighborhood amenities and school information

7. Think Outside The Box

Getting attention takes creativity, even in a seller’s market. Setting a theme that matches the style of your home’s architecture can set your open house apart from the others. Some agents have seen success renting drones to advertise for open houses. See if a local store will give you permission to set up shop with your drone and hand out listing flyers to onlookers.

8. Be Professional

Homebuyers know they’ll work directly with you as a FSBO seller, so make yourself available at the open house. But it’s important to emotionally disconnect from the home and treat it as an asset you’re selling. Make your visitors feel comfortable by allowing them to explore the house, ask questions and provide feedback at their leisure.

9. Follow Up

Create a sign-in sheet that visitors will fill out when they arrive. Ask them to leave their name, email address and phone number. Not everyone will leave their information – but those who do are more interested in buying. Follow up with your visitors a few days after the open house, and offer to answer any questions they have.

What tips would you share with other home sellers to make their open house a success?

Preparing Your Home for Sale Selling a Home Selling Process

10 Must-Dos The Day You Show Your House

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.

Preparing Your Home for Sale Selling a Home

What Every Seller Needs to Know About Holding an Open House

Hosting an open house can be a time saver. It’s a great way to expose your home to a number of potential buyers simultaneously at a time that works for you. We recommend that you plan at least one open house every 30 days during your selling process.

Open houses are naturally harder to control than individual showings and have their own set of special considerations. We’ve answered our seller’s most frequently asked questions about planning an open house:

Saturday or Sunday, which day is best?

Sunday certainly seems to be the norm in the industry. But selling your home by owner is not the norm (yet) so clearly you’re not the type of person who always follows the crowd. Really, the decision to host your open house on Saturday or Sunday (or both on different weekends if you have more than one) should be based primarily on what works for you. Have more errands to do on Saturdays? Then Sunday is probably the day for you. Are you inclined to stay away from Sundays for personal, faith-based reasons? Opt for Saturdays.

Can I do it on my own?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it. You never know when you might have a large number of visitors simultaneously, and having more than one person who can guide them through the house is helpful. If you are selling as a single person consider recruiting a family member or friend (or two) to help. Since you are inviting an untold number of strangers into your home having trusted assistants can be a big help with safety and security issues.

How can I advertise an Open House effectively?

There are many options, starting with your Internet presence.
• Advertise your open house on your listing and use social media to create buzz before and during your open house.
• Promote your open house using flyers, email and word of mouth—ask your neighbors to help spread the word.
• Let people know that you’re having an Open House by placing directional yard signs at key local intersections.
• Consider taking out an ad in the local paper, an inexpensive yet well read option. People looking for open houses often look in the print and online versions of their local papers.

Should I let my neighbors know?

Yes! Your neighbors can be a great source for referrals to potential buyers, plus they will appreciate knowing when your open house is scheduled. Give them a heads up at least a week in advance by phone or email, or drop an invitation in their mailbox.

Should I serve refreshments?

Refreshments are always welcome, but keep it light and season-appropriate.

How long should an open house be?

Choose the exact hours and duration of your open house with your own convenience and durability in mind, but offer visitors as much time flexibility as you can. Two hours might sound like a large enough time window to offer interested parties, but if you add a third or a fourth hour you will naturally expand the pool of potential visitors who might be able to visit your home during those hours. If you want to begin your open house on Sunday morning, that’s fine, but consider extending hours into the afternoon to accommodate buyers who might be at church on Sunday mornings.

Should I avoid holidays?

When you are choosing a date for your open house, keep in mind factors that could affect large numbers of potential buyers. In addition to avoiding national holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day, stay away from major religious holidays.

Do I need to do anything special to prepare my home for an open house?

In addition to taking the normal steps to prepare you house for a showing, pay special attention before an open house to securing or removing your easily portable valuables. An open house can be an exciting event from which your ultimate buyer might emerge. But imagine how much of a downer it will be if some of your personal items go missing. Time invested in protecting your valuables will be time very well spent.

What else should I keep in mind?

1. Use a sign-in sheet. Have anyone attending fill out a sign-in sheet before going through the house. Make sure you capture their name(s), current address, cell phone number(s) and e-mail address. Consider including space for them to tell you how they heard about your open house. Follow up with a phone call or an email the next week. 

2. Find out if any interested buyers are pre-approved. Not every person who comes through your house will be interested. But for those who ask questions indicating that they might be, don’t be afraid to inquire if they are pre-approved for a mortgage. If they are not, recommend that they contact a lender or a mortgage broker to take the necessary steps. Insist on proof of their pre-approval before spending more time on a private showing.

3. Expect questions. You can’t anticipate all questions a prospective buyer might ask about the house and local community, but be prepared to answer questions about property taxes, the age of the roof, heating and cooling units, major appliances, schools and crime rates. For questions that you don’t know the answer to, say you’ll call or e-mail with an answer.

4. Make sure you have plenty of marketing materials available. Your open house is more than likely to attract people who are not current prospects but could become interested in your home. Have listing flyers and brochures available for them to read over as the walk through your house and take with them when they leave. Be sure your marketing materials prominently feature your contact information and the online locations of your listing ad.

5. Follow-up. Within a day of your open house, send a “thank you” email to everyone who took the time to visit your house. Include a link to your listing and ask if they had any questions regarding the house.