Planning for the Open House

by : Carol Freyer

So your home has just been listed for sale, and your agent is planning an open house. What can you do to be ready for it yourself?

First, your Realtor® will probably tell you to be out of the house on showing day. This is because it has been shown that potential buyers are more relaxed when the homeowner isn't there. They are free to imagine what they would do with the home, making them that much closer to putting in an offer. When the homeowner is there, people feel less comfortable opening up closets and cupboards-things they need to do in order to feel comfortable enough to want to buy a home. Plus, you won't have to be around to listen to anyone's criticisms of your home. And since the Realtor® knows exactly what the client is looking for in a home, they will know just what to highlight about your home to make it seem appealing.

So, plan to visit friends or family, or be out shopping, on the showing days. Consider the kids, if you have them, and pets too. Arrange play-dates, or bring the kids with you. And while outdoor cats might be OK at the house while you're gone, indoor cats should probably be sent to a boarding kennel for the day, or they are at risk of escaping. You certainly don't want to have one room no one can look at because the cat is locked inside. That will not make for an easy sale. Nor will a dog jumping all over viewers, so dogs should definitely be either taken with you, being "babysat" by friends or family, or at a boarding kennel when your home is showing. Remember that a lot of people are allergic to animals. Removing all traces of your pets will help reduce someone's anxiety about buying a home previously lived in by the animal that makes them sneeze like crazy.

This brings me to the next important item: clean up. Your Realtor® may have suggested a home stager. Whether you go this route or not, it is best to de-clutter your home before an open house, and to clean it thoroughly from top to bottom. Make sure even storage rooms look tidy, as these can be major selling features. It's a good idea to do all of those deep-cleaning tasks you may have been putting off, like getting rid of mildew in the shower, or getting the drapes cleaned. As easy as it is to put up with this kind of grime when you are going about your busy life, no one wants to move into a house with someone else's mold build-up in the caulking around the bathtub. And cleaning things like drapes, carpets and comforters will help your home smell fresher. Smell is a huge first impression, and things like pets, smoking and even just daily life can really give a home its own unique smell. It's best to reduce this if you want someone else to feel as though they could move in.

Finally, don't forget about the yard. Clean up any kids toys, doggy doo or sprawling projects, prune any rambling shrubs, and make sure the lawn is mowed. Then take off for the day and, hopefully, come home to a hearty offer!