When you’re ready to sell your house, you will need to get it in its best possible condition, especially in today’s competitive environment. An open house presents an opportunity to showcase the best features of your home and allows potential buyers to get a feel for the property. If you’re a fist time home seller, you may think of the open house as the point at which your Realtor waits until you leave, turns into a magician and with a flick of the wrist, completely transforms your home into something out of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing.
But here is the truth of it
Your real estate agent is not practicing wizardry on the side. And you aren’t completely free of responsibility when it comes to the open house. In fact, although you aren’t present for the open house (and you never, ever should be, if you want to sell the home), there are still quite a few ways that you can mess it up and drive away potential buyers.
These eight things could very negatively impact your chances of having a successful open house—and, potentially, the house sale.
- Leaving your pets at home
Pets bring a lot of joy into our lives. Nevertheless, they can be a real problem when you’re showing your home. This is true for several reasons. Logistically pets make things difficult because you will have to keep them separate from the potential buyers, who might not like pets and certainly cannot picture themselves living in a house that once housed cats or dogs. This means that you will have to block off areas of your home, a real no-no in an open house. Pets also behave unpredictably. The last thing you want is your pet leaving his/her “mark” on the floor right in front of the viewers or even scaring the potential buyers. Which could also prevent them from viewing rooms and prove to be a distraction overall.
Take your pets to a friend’s for the day when you’re showing your house. You should also do your best to eliminate any signs of pet habitation, including bedding, toys, smells and stains. Selling a house with pets takes extra consideration and care. There are some home buyers who will see any signs of pets as a complete turnoff. This is definitely one of the top open house mistakes you should avoid.
- Ignoring your kitchen needs
You may be surprised by how many home owners ignore their kitchens when selling their house. Putting the dirty dishes in the sink doesn’t make them invisible. Even if the rest of your house is staged to perfection, a repugnant kitchen will turn off the potential buyers—and that goes for the dishwasher too. The potential buyers will most likely want to investigate the fridge and open the dishwasher during the open house, hence it’s vital that you prepare your home accordingly: Clean and store the dishes, and remove any smelly food from your fridge. You should consider removing any kitchen appliance that can be neatly stored instead of being left on counter tops. The less clutter, the more spacious and inviting your kitchen will feel. If it’s an appliance that is used daily, such as a toaster or coffeepot, be sure to wipe it clean after each use.
You should also ensure that you check out and clean the other rooms in your home, even those that you think the potential buyers will not bother checking out, such as the closets garage or laundry room. Because guess what? They totally will.
You aren’t selling part of your home; you are selling your entire home, hence you should ensure that everything the potential buyers will see during the open house is in showcase condition.
- Not hiding your dirty bath towels
Keeping the bath towels you have used (and intend to use again) tucked out of the way in a closet benefits you two-fold: Not only does it make the bathroom look well staged, but it also keeps them free of germs and dirt from the day’s parade of viewers. Instead, swap in a clean set of decorative hand and bath towels for each open house. You do not want (people) wiping their dirty hands on the bath towels you wipe your body with.
- Cleaning solo
When you think about how much money a house actually costs, it’s easy to understand why people expect cleanliness in an open house. Surprisingly, not everybody meets the mark when it comes to a clean house. If you have to hire a cleaning service to get the job done, do so.
Professional cleaners will scrub all the “out of the way” spots you may miss (think switch plates and baseboards), they can also help eliminate messes and odors that go back years. Preparing for showings is particularly important when there are potentially a large number of visitors dropping by for a look. Showing dirty, messy homes to potential buyers is by far the greatest mistake most sellers make when holding an open house.
- Not getting a second opinion
After you have cleaned and staged your house, a blunt tongued neighbor can be a blessing. Over time, you can easily get used to odors and smells that may linger in your home, even after a thorough cleaning. You need a neutral third party who’ll tell you like it’s, not what you would like to hear. So do not be offended if the third party tells you that your place stinks— literally or figuratively. You aren’t in a position to be all ego, you are trying to sell your home — and that is what you should focus on.
- Not maintaining the yard
The front yard is the first thing the guests see, so ensure it is spotless. You want the potential buyers to focus on the curb appeal of your home — not your collection of yard tools. Additionally, objects strewed every which way can also be dangerous. You should also make sure that the grass is trimmed nicely and any bushes or flowers are in good shape. And unless it’s trash day, keep your bins out of sight. Nothing turns potential buyer off faster than a pile of trash and the thought of potential yard work.
- Dirty exterior
Depending on where you live, the exterior of your house may gather a significant amount of grime as the seasons turn. You might not have noticed it if it occurred gradually, but visitors to the open house are sure to see the mildew and mold on the siding, the dingy windows and the clogged gutters. Like the home’s interior, the exterior should be fresh and clean looking if you want to impress the potential buyers.
- Photos, religious art, drugs and politics need to go
When the potential buyers walk into your home, they should picture their family living in the house, not yours. They do not need to see your family photos or be able to tell your religious or political views as they walk through the house.
There is a reason stagers depersonalize your house. Certainly, they want the buyers to visualize themselves living within its walls—but they also want to remove any ammunition that may be used against you during the negotiating process. One of the places to look is the medicine cabinet, which should be emptied during the open house.
The same goes for family photos and things such as canes and walkers: For instance, if you are elderly, they may consider underbid your price under the assumption that you can no longer be able to take care of your house. Keeping the potential buyers from learning your personal details is not just good staging.