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Open Houses Made Simple

Open houses are important for selling your home in the modern housing market.  They allow prospective buyers to come into the home and have a look around without the pressure of someone trying to convince them that it is the right house to meet their needs.  While undertaking huge renovations to make your property more desirable is not in most sellers’ budgets, making sure you cover the basics in order to make your home as presentable as possible will help you get the most out of your open house.

Understanding the Market

Knowing who is buying homes similar homes to yours will help you prepare for an open house. This is dictated by a combination of factors including location, architecture, price, and a variety of other factors. Millennial home buyers are now the largest group of home buyers and like to do their homework online before talking to a salesperson about any product, including homes. It stands to reason that most millennials who attend open houses are motivated buyers. That said, they are not the only generation looking to purchase a home.


Staging doesn’t have to be expensive, but depending on how long you have lived in the home, and how open you are to viewing your own items as potentially intrusive for others, you may not be able to stage it yourself. The point is to give the home broad appeal to as many buyers as possible.  This includes removing personal items that are in direct contrast to what appeals to your target audience. A well-staged house allows visitors to envision their own stuff in the space, rather than being overwhelmed by yours.


When you live somewhere long enough, you tend not to notice the scratches, dings, and grime that inadvertently build up on items. This is especially true for parents and pet owners, who often find traces of their children or telltale signs of their furry companion to be endearing, but prospective buyers may find these to be deal breakers.  Hiring professionals to clean your home comes with a reasonable price tag, and it’s a great way to ensure you haven’t become blind to things that might turn serious buyers off.  Most homeowners spend between $115 – $227 on cleaning services. This is money well spent by any seller, whether you are planning an open house or not.


Open houses can be tricky in terms of attracting the buyers versus the lookers.  Lookers might be curious neighbors, couples who are interested in the neighborhood but not ready to buy, or simply real estate agents who want to meet prospective buyers and sellers in the area to build their own clientele.  To make sure you are getting sufficient traffic, advertise your open house online and include high-quality photos and descriptions. On the day(s) of the open house, place directional signs from the nearest busy intersection to within one block of your home.  This is especially important if it is challenging to find.

Curb Appeal

If you have gone through all the trouble to set up an open house so buyers can explore your home, don’t forget about how it looks from the outside.  Home buyers’ first impressions are crucial because you want them to actually come inside.  Trimming the grass and grooming the yard are obvious, but don’t forget about adjacent properties and vehicles.  Remove all vehicles from the driveway and the front of the house.  If you have less-than-tidy neighbors, politely talk to them about cleaning up, and consider lending a hand or offering to do it for them if that’s what it takes.  Be sure to treat the situation delicately, as uncooperative neighbors can make selling a home much more difficult.

Focusing on the minor details—things that don’t cost a lot, but have a huge impact on first impressions—is the key to a successful open house.  Knowing your prospective buyer audience and staging your home to appeal to them is important.  Making sure your home is clean and tidy inside and out is imperative.  Advertising it through every channel and medium available to you is the best way to ensure a good turnout.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Suzie Wilson is author of the upcoming book The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House.

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