First, plan to be gone during any open house events! (This goes double for pets, with the exception of fish!) One of the biggest mistakes I see is home owners hosting their own open houses. Bay area home buyers don’t want you there – they feel inhibited and worried that they will say something offensive, so they say nothing and hurry out. Serious home buyers will want to linger and will want to imagine where their furniture will fit. They may be mentally remodeling your home too. But if you’re there, they will be very uncomfortable. Hire a good agent who will handle this task for you (or have someone from that brokerage do it).
Second, make your townhouse, condo or house as close to perfect as possible for the open house. Your property needs to be squeaky clean, safe and inviting. I’m presuming that you’ve already done all the fixes and staging needed generally for selling your home. Here’s a list of a few last minute to-do’s:
- Keep your driveway clear of cars so visitors can park there.
- Make all walkways free of tripping hazards (garden hoses, toys etc.) – you do not want your buyers to be “on edge”. Don’t water the garden just prior to the open house or guests might slip (or track in more than you want).
- Your front door should be impeccably clean!
- Color near the front door (front walkway or front porch) is a good “bang for the buck”, so if you have room, provide flowers there.
- Inside, make sure that there are no odors from cooking, pets, smoke, candles, incense, etc. Although some will suggest baking cookies or bread or burning candles, most of the time this only makes buyers wonder what smells are being masked.
- Music is OK if it’s quiet, commercial free and of a relaxing type (soft classical or jazz). Your agent will want to hear what’s happening and being said in the house.
- Some agents suggest serving food to open house guests, but often this means cookies crumbling as the youngest visitors munch and tour the house, so I don’t suggest it.
- Do you have a pool or any potential hazards? A sign on the door letting parents know is a good idea. Ask your agent for any advice around any dangers (unsecured lid to a well, steep staircase to basement, missing handrails etc.). Safety first!
- Open the curtains and turn on the lights. Home buyers usually gravitate toward purchasing a “light, bright and airy” property.
These are the basics. Your own home may have special issues, so consult with your own agent. Best of luck to you!