Real estate agents hold two types of open houses: one for other agents – sometimes called a “broker’s open” – and one for the public.
Preparing your house for both types of open houses is the same, with the exception of offering food at the broker’s open house. Real estate agents typically have a number of homes to view on their weekly tour so they tend to zoom through each one. Offering them food – which they love – slows them down long enough to take a closer look at your home. Ask your agent to plan and provide the food – he or she knows what works best.
The idea to keep in mind when preparing your home for an open house is that you want it to appear bigger, brighter and turnkey. Yes, it takes a lot of work, but the bonus is that the house will also be ready when it hits the market.
Open House Prep Checklist
- Check the siding, stucco and paint. Fix any chips.
- Check all windows screens and replace or repair any with rips or tears.
- Clean out the gutters.
- Remove cobwebs.
- Wash the porch light cover.
- Ensure that the house numbers are easily visible.
- Trim trees and shrubs.
- Plant something that adds color to the landscape and front porch.
- Fertilize, edge and mow the lawn.
- Rake up all debris.
- Clean or paint the front door.
- Clean the walls and doors.
- Paint walls a neutral color.
- Declutter kitchen and bathroom counters, leaving only decorative items.
- Eliminate personal photographs and memorabilia from walls, tabletops, etc.
- Remove clutter from bookshelves, coffee and end tables, fireplace mantle, etc.
- Clean and organize all closets, cupboards and pantry.
- Rearrange furniture to make rooms appear larger.
- Ensure that each room advertises its purpose (an office looks like an office, etc.).
- Shampoo the carpets.
- Clean and wax floors.
- Wash inside and outside the windows.
- Scrub all surfaces in the bathrooms.
- Clean both the interior of the fireplace and the screen.
- Removing pet, smoking and infant odors.
- Purchase coordinating towels, shower curtains and throw rugs for bathrooms.
- Buy new rugs and curtains for the kitchen.
- Add some throw pillows for the beds.
- Consider extra lighting for dark spaces.
- Hide electric and cable cords.
- Lock up all valuables and prescription medications.
- Remove your pets from the home the day of the open house.
- Find a place for you and your family to hang out during the open house.
- Ensure that your real estate agent has flyers for attendees and that everyone signs the guestbook.
- If you don’t have time to clean the house, hire a cleaning crew.
- Open the drapes and turn on all the lights the day of the open house.