Should You Have An Open House?

Ninety-five percent of homebuyers use the Internet to shop for a home, according to the National Association of REALTORS.® If homebuyers can see your home through multiple photos, videos and virtual tours, why bother with an open house?

An open house can catch buyers early in the home-search process when they’re driving around neighborhoods and getting first impressions. They often choose several homes to drive by, and an open house could tip them favorably toward your neighborhood and home. Open houses allow buyers to view homes without obligation, and an open house helps them form their preferences, compromises and deal-breakers.

An open house is only effective if it shows the home to its fullest advantage. Deep cleaning, de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and staging are imperative, just as they are for showings by appointment. Your pets should be out of the home for the day, and you should make plans to be gone while your home is open to the public.

That said, less than nine percent of buyers chose the home they bought from yard signs and open houses. Instead, 90 percent used the services of a real estate agent, which means an open house is only one piece in the overall marketing plan for selling your home.

Contact me if an open house should be part of your home’s marketing plan. Keep in mind that you may be in a market where homes are selling so quickly that an open house isn’t necessary, but in most markets, you should employ all the ways homebuyers shop for a home.

Speed Clean for Showings

Life is messy, and cleaning your home in time for an unexpected showing is never convenient. But you can do a speedy pick-up and spot clean so your home sparkles for homebuyers. Here’s how.

  1. Get everyone on board. Selling your home is a team effort. Start good habits now so there’s less for everyone to do later. Remind kids to put their toys away and hang up their clothes before bedtime and to make their beds every morning. For weekends, assign each household member a room to pick up in addition to their bedrooms.
  2. Keep baskets handy. Make a five-minute clean up drill fun. Give each household member a basket. Show them what belongs and what should be put in the basket for each room. Blow a whistle to begin and then a quick pick-up drill becomes a fun race.
  3. Clean litter boxes daily. Pets contribute a lot of odors to homes, so make sure cat litter boxes are sifted daily and wash dog beds weekly. Don’t forget the back-yard dog run!
  4. Shortcuts for speed. It’s crucial that kitchens and baths are spotless for showings. Keep a plastic housekeeper’s caddy loaded with toilet bowl cleaner, bleach wipes, paper towels and glass cleaner. Be ready to go for a five-minute once-over on counters, mirrors, etc.
  5. Reward good jobs. Look over each room before heading out the door with the kids and the family dog. The one who did the best job gets to pick a treat – ice cream, a movie or the park.

Staging in the Spring

Any professional home stager will tell you that the basic principles remain the same throughout the year—keep things clean, clutter free and colorful. But springtime has its own special set of rules. There are a number of things you can do both inside and out to take advantage of the beautiful weather:

  • Add splashes of color to your porch with potted flowers. Larger pots filled with tulips or daisies and accented with greenery makes a nice touch. By introducing seasonal colors to the outside, your home becomes very attractive to prospective home buyers.
  • Bring spring colors into a home with accessories like throw pillows, area rugs, artwork, towels and bedspreads. If you change accessories, the whole house changes.
  • Use decorative knickknacks that speak of spring, such as pears, eggs, and seashells. Add leafy patterns in fabrics and wicker. Use real leather and rusted metal as contrasts.
  • Replace the drapery panels in a home or office.

All rooms are important. There are ways to liven up each as the spring season blooms. You want the buyer to absorb the whole house, not just one or two staged rooms, so it’s important to create a cohesive design.

And how about the great outdoors?

  • Remove fallen leaves and dead plants.
  • Add bright, new plants where you can.
  • Trim bushes and hedges.
  • Scour outdoor furniture.
  • Sweep porches and patios.

Indeed, spring brings more buyers, so take advantage of all that the season has to offer.

Staging your home with kids around

Homeowners with young children face a common challenge when their house is on the market: How do you keep the home clean and ready for prospective buyers? Keeping that “staged look” as the kids create instant messes can be overwhelming. Children’s bedrooms are the worst when getting a home ready to sell—toys, clothes and activities.

  • Limit the number of toys and activities that children play with each week and adding and subtracting as the kids get bored.
  • Pack away extra toys, stuffed animals and books.
  • Organize remaining toys neatly in baskets, boxes and bins and display only a few items on shelves.
  • For those with infants, keep your nursery tidy by storing all extra diapers, wipes, lotions, baby bottles and clothes in a dresser or nearby closet.
  • Emptying the diaper pail frequently will help ensure that the room smells fresh and clean.
  • Removing furniture that doesn’t serve a purpose can help the room appear larger.
  • Having kids share rooms allows you to set up the unoccupied room as a guest room or home office, adding extra value to your home.

Once your current home sells, the new home will provide your kids with exciting new adventures. If that doesn’t make them more cooperative in helping keep the place, then there’s always plan B: bribe them with ice cream, outside!