House buyers are superficial. This is because they’re about to spend a lot of money — the higher the price tag, the higher the potential for buyer’s remorse if it’s not what they wanted. This makes people picky, critical, and more likely to pay attention to minor imperfections. That’s why your open house preparation is crucial. If you can create a great impression from the moment they see your house to the moment they leave, you’ll have a great chance of getting a quick sale. Here’s how to do it in four easy steps.
As Trulia points out, kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Investing money in your home can help you get a quicker sale — and these two rooms are where the bulk of your investment should go. In the kitchen, consider updating appliances, cabinets, and the sink — especially if you’ve had them a while. In the bathroom, consider replacing or refinishing the bathtub, shower, and sink. At the very least, replace old or outdated faucets, tiles, wallpaper, and other furniture. Some other good places for larger home improvements are your front door, garage door, the roof of your house, and the front garden. First impressions count, so if you have your visitors saying “Wow!” when they arrive, you’re in good shape.
When the major home improvement projects are complete, it’s time for staging. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in your house, so make sure every room is tidy, organized, and clutter-free. Replace old furniture, curtains, and carpets, especially if they look well-used or are out of fashion. Repainting walls and replacing wallpaper is a quick and fairly cheap way to add value to your home. You should also depersonalize the house by removing all family photos, fridge magnets, and other personal trinkets. Don’t forget the yard, either; make sure the grass is cut and that plants, shrubs, and hedges are tidy.
All that remodeling and staging has probably left a mess, so before you host the open house, clean your home from top to bottom. If you have carpeting, make sure you vacuum with a model designed for the job. Try to look at each room with a buyer’s eye, ensuring you remove any mold or mildew that might be present in the kitchen or the bathroom. Don’t forget the windows, as these are often neglected. See this guide by the American Cleaning Institute for a few more handy hints on how to clean your house before selling it.
If you have a pet, it’s very important that you eliminate any pet stains or odors from the house. Not everyone is a pet person, and if your home smells of your dog, this will put some people off. Since pet stains and odors can be stubborn to get out, and because you may be blind to the smell yourself, you might want to bring in the pros. Hiring a professional cleaner is one of the most cost-effective investments you can make when selling a home.
If you’re working with an agent, they will help you bring people into your house, but don’t leave it all up to them — do some marketing yourself. Traditional methods such as putting up signs and leaving flyers in local businesses work, but don’t forget that we’re in the digital age now. Take some great photos of your beautifully remodeled, staged, and cleaned home, and post them on social media along with the #openhouse hashtag. Marketing doesn’t end when the visitor enters the house; create an information pack with photos, information about the house, and details of attractions in the area for people to take with them after they leave. This will help keep your house and its benefits fresh in their minds as they look at other properties.
Of course, your preparation will be constrained by things like how much money you have to invest and how quickly you need to get the house on the market. However, even if you don’t have the time and money to remodel, you should at least spend a few days staging, bringing cleaners in, and getting some marketing materials together. A little up-front prep will help get your house off the market more quickly — so it’ll be time well spent.
Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.