An open for inspection is usually the first time that prospective purchasers view your property in person, and first impressions really matter when selling any property.
So how can sellers make the most of open homes?
Talk to your local real estate agent
Your real estate agent will be your best advisor when it comes to preparing for open homes. They can quickly tell you what your property is up against in the current market and can often suggest simple changes or improvements that can get you top dollar. Remember, they’ve been doing open homes for years and will have a good idea of what buyers may expect.
Questions to ask your real estate agent include:
- What are the most impressive parts of my home? How can you accentuate these selling points?
- At what time of the day is it best to have the home open? Considerations include traffic noise, weather, the natural light in your property and what is convenient for local buyers.
- Are there any common complaints or questions that you hear from buyers at open homes?
- Are there any changes you should make before opening the property? These changes may be as simple as rearranging furniture. Ensure you consider each dollar outlay carefully so you do not overcapitalize.
When preparing for your home open, there are also a number of general things to consider and tick off your list:
Maintenance and repairs
When: A few weeks before
The most crucial part of preparing for an open home is to remove the most obvious objections that buyers may have. Walk through your home, both inside and outside, with a critical eye. Put yourself in the purchaser’s shoes.
Common maintenance issues include cracks in the wall, creaky doors or loose handles, broken light fittings and power sockets, broken tiles, patchy lawns, leaky taps, fencing that has come down and stains from water leaks on ceilings and walls. These things can really concern potential buyers, even if there isn’t an underlying issue.
Start rectifying all those little problems you never got around to fixing. If you have more things to fix than you can afford, start by focusing on the most obvious problems.
Minor cosmetic touch ups
When: A few weeks before
A light cosmetic renovation can go a long way towards making a good first impression. It’s also a way to get maximum effect for little cost.
Common improvements include a fresh coat of paint (look for neutral shades), curtains or blinds, some extra plants in the garden or replacing dated light fittings or a bathroom vanity unit. Considering the front of your house can also be crucial here – sometimes a new letterbox or house numbers can go a long way.
De-clutter and deep clean
When: A couple of weeks before
Removing personal effects and decor from your house can go a long way to helping a buyer to envisage living in the property. And de-cluttering will make your house seem more spacious and inviting.
Go through each room and remove what you can, with particular focus on overly personal items like too many ornaments, books, collections, toys or photos. Hide, or put away, cleaning equipment, personal toiletries and your own family’s clothes, such as shoes at the door. Consider also finding a nice space away from viewers’ eyes for your dustbin and any bins inside the home. You may need to consider storing or moving some your personal effects.
After de-cluttering a big spring clean will make your home sparkle. Professional house cleaners and carpet steaming companies can be invaluable here. Don’t forget to clean your windows, both inside and out, which will also maximise incoming natural light. It’s a good idea to tidy inside kitchen cupboards pantries as well as built in wardrobes. And remove any signs of pets food or litter trays.
Finish with a new shower curtain and some fresh crisp linen on your beds.
When: The week before your first open home
One of the growing trends in real estate is to have your home styled, or staged, to ensure it presents in the best possible light. This can be done by using a careful selection of your own furniture and rented furniture and decor.
A few styling rules:
- Less is usually more
- Simple color schemes work well
- Ensure the furniture matches the size of the space
- Consider adding lighting to areas that need it
Staging for a period of two months can set you back around $5,000 for a four bedroom house. But the International Institute of Home Staging suggests that the return on investment can be many thousands more.
Remember that it doesn’t need to be an “either/or” situation – you could ask for a professional stylist to stage a couple of your best rooms if you can’t afford the whole package. You can also ask for a styling consultation, a cheaper option that will give you expert advice on how to use your own furniture to best effect.
If you are planning on investing in professional styling you’ll need to book it in advance, and the stylist will usually stage your home the week of the first open house.
Welcome your buyers
When: On the day
On the day you’ll want to tidy up and give your home a final clean. Put out fresh towels and hide the dirty washing.
Having all the lights on, usually with the blinds or curtains in most of the rooms open, is a common decision to make to emphasize the light and airiness of the home. Consider turning on lamps in rooms that need an extra boost. You may even want to consider some soft music in the background.
Don’t forget to spray air freshener where needed, to put some fresh flowers out and to consider the temperature and how the weather may affect your home.
Finally, put out a new front door mat and ensure your buyers feel welcome. Don’t be tempted to stay – leave your property in the hands of your agent to open the door to your prospective buyers.
It’s time for your real estate agent to work their magic.