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If you’re preparing for an open house, then you likely already know all about the importance of deep cleaning and decluttering. But barring that, what else can you do to make sure your open house runs smoothly?
We’ve done some research on the lesser-known evils that can make a great house showing go terribly wrong, and talked to a few top real estate agents to compile a list of ways to avoid them.
Watch this video for a quick breakdown of each tip:
Read on for 4 disaster-proof house showing tips that will make sure your big day kicks off without a hitch.
Common Open House Mistake #1- Leaving Your Pet Around
As much as we love them, pets can cause a myriad of problems on the day of your open house. In fact, when asked about the most common issues arising at open houses, top San Marcos Seller’s Agent Nicolas Jonville (who ranks #1 out of all agents in his region) named pets first and foremost.
Here’s what Jonville told us: “Dog smell and pet smell in the house— that’s a deal breaker for a lot of people. Pet barking is a total deal breaker. We want [buyers] to visualize themselves in [the house], and if the dog is barking during the whole showing this is a problem.”
From the smell to the extra dirt, and even the noise, pets will be a big turn-off to the interested buyer who isn’t so interested in animals. Luckily, there are a few strategies you can put in place to make sure your furry friend doesn’t ruin the big day.
How to Solve for Pet Problems Before Your House Showing
- Deep clean your home the days before a big open house event. Wash carpets, bedding, and pet areas. Come up with a solution for storing smelly food or litter boxes during your open house.
- Wash your pet! Having a clean home won’t do a thing if your dog still stinks.
- Hire a pet sitter. Having your pet out of the house is essential for the event itself, and also gives your home the best chance of not being labeled as “smelly” by non pet-friendly buyers.
If you can’t get your pets out of the house, at least make sure your real estate agent knows about them.
Says Jonville, “Once a dog escaped when there was no information there would even be a dog, so the agent had to run after it in the street, and everyone was running after the dog— it kind of ruined the showing. The seller forgot to mention a pet.”
Common Open House Mistake #2- Having Poor Communication
Pets aren’t the only ones that can cause trouble when it comes to selling a home. Kids, unsuspecting roommates, and even neighbors can all throw a cog in your production wheel if left in the dark about open house details.
One time during an open house Jonville ran into an unexpected problem with a locked door. He says, “A bedroom was locked, so we couldn’t show it. The teenager didn’t clean the room so the seller kept it locked during the open house.”
Neighbors can also become a huge blocker to throwing your best open house, especially if they’re noisy or messy types. Everyone living in your home (or close to it) should be made aware of when the event is happening, and what your expectations are.
How to Communicate Your Upcoming House Showing
Prior to your open house event, be sure to sync up with your family and neighbors. Make sure they know when open houses are happening and what to expect.
Apologize in advance to your neighbors for the extra cars that will show up parked on the street, then kindly ask they avoid any noisy projects that day and keep rowdy pets inside.
Set a cleaning schedule for your kids well in advance of your house showing. That will give them ample time to get your home in good shape on the day of the showing.
Common Open House Mistake #3- Not Setting the Scene for Buyers
Your open house doesn’t need to have the same perfect zen vibe as a five-star spa resort, but it shouldn’t have bad ambiance either. An open house should inspire buyers to fall in love with your home, but it’ll be near-impossible for them to get attached to anything if they’re feeling physically uncomfortable.
Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what Real Estate Columnist Lurdes Abruscato over at Houzz has to say about this, “No matter what time of day or year, the home’s temperature, lighting and noise levels should be just right during an open house.”
Just like a cold or dark house, a noisy one is equally disruptive when a buyer is trying to get the lay of the land and form a connection with your home.
How to Create the Perfect Ambiance for Your House Showing
Walk through your house a day ahead of the showing to see how it feels in terms of ambiance. Is it too cold or too hot? What does it smell like? How are the noise levels?
Buy some gentle fabric sprays or candles to keep your house smelling fresh, and even consider opening the windows to air it out.
Then turn on all the lights you possibly can. Says Jonville, “I always tell my clients, turn every light on like you want to make it a Christmas tree.”
Common Open House Mistake #4- Cutting Corners (When Cleaning)
We get it, prepping for an open house is a ton of work. So when that article told you to “deep-clean” maybe what you actually did was clean a little less deeply. But cleanliness is the he one thing you really don’t want to cut corners on when showing your home to buyers!
Trust us on this one: even if you cleaned all the noticeably dirty spaces, a few small messes are just as bad as a big one. We’re talking about all the things you might have overlooked: the smelly dish-towel (lose this all together for the big day), the dusty houseplant, or even crumbs on the counter.
“Don’t overlook little details like crumbs on the table from breakfast, toothpaste remnants in sinks, half-full trash cans on display and dust bunnies in rooms you don’t frequent.” says Abruscato. All of these things will contribute to a general sense of discomfort in your buyer, and they should be addressed before the open house happens.
How to (Actually) Clean Your House for Showings
- Do a home walkthrough (maybe even inviting over your Type A best-friend to join) to see what small bits of dirt you may have missed. Run your finger over surfaces, open closet doors, and double-check bathrooms and kitchens thoroughly.
- Adopt this rule for cleaning: If it makes you crinkle up your nose (no matter-how small)— clean it.
- If you’re still living in the house, make some time on the day of your event for a final walkthrough to ensure you haven’t missed any last-minute messes.
Your Simplified Open House Checklist
There’s a lot to manage when you’re about to show your house for sale. We suggest you start with the fundamentals and keep it simple. Time is of the essence and we don’t want you to get bogged down in the details.
Here’s how to prepare for your open house, even if it’s right around the corner:
- If you haven’t told your family and neighbors about the open house event, go do this straight away. Giving people advanced notice is the courteous thing to do, and it also makes it far more likely they’ll get involved to help you prepare.
- Start cleaning! If you’re a pet owner, get started cleaning fabrics right away and book a pet hotel for the night before and day of your showing.
- Do a walkthrough to determine any last minute dirt you might find that should be addressed prior to guests arriving on the day of your event.
- Set the tone for your event by making sure rooms feel warm, bright, and inviting. Make your home feel like a clean and comfortable space that buyers won’t want to leave.