When getting an home ready for sale, holding an open house is a great way to get potential buyers through the door. But only if you make sure your home is ready to be shown to prospects. Buyers need to envision how they’ll use the available space, and that means staging your home so that it looks inviting but not too lived-in.

We’ve seen potential buyers walk into a house, turn around, and walk back out. We don’t want that happening to you.

If you’ve watched HGTV for more than 30 seconds, chances are you’ve heard of “staging,” or the process of preparing a home for sale via de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and simply showing off the home as if it was being sold in a boutique shop.

Buyers today are looking for turn-key homes. Many buyers don’t have the extra cash – or extra time – to make a bunch of immediate upgrades. So staging, repairing, and prepping your home for sale is a must. During a showing or open house, the potential Buyer wants to feel they are getting some value in exchange for your price tag. Putting in the up-front time and effort will put you in the best position for a successful sale with less marketing time. (These tips are also great for staging the home for photos – which will live on the Internet for the entire time the home is being marketed.)


How do I make my home ready for sale?


Depending on your home’s current condition, it can be a large, overwhelming job so take it slow and work step-by-step.

Before getting to the 12 tips below, understand what improvements will help you sell your home and make a realistic plan that fits your budget and time frame.

Most importantly, let go emotionally. The moment you put your house up for sale, it becomes a product. It’s now a property, not your home. For many, it’s more difficult than the physical work that lies ahead.

Identify the target audience. Who is your buyer? Is it a family-friendly neighborhood? Established with lots of remodeling and repurposing? Up and coming and appealing to first time buyers? Work with your Agent on this and stage accordingly.

Determine what buyers want. Our experience says today’s buyer is looking for a move-in ready home, value, and a connection to it. Remove personal items, family photos, anything you objectively know is not going to help a buyer envision their new chapter of life in the house.

Go through the home room by room and make a list of the home’s problem areas. Envision yourself having never been in the house before and looking at it from a buyer’s point of view. Invite your agent who will give unbiased advice, or a friend who will tell it like it is.

Take your list, rank it from highest priority to lowest, and get going.


12 Tips for a successful open house


  1. De-clutter. Clear your counters. Remove piles of magazines. Maybe remove a chair or small table to make a room feel larger. Clutter is a deal killer. It makes things feel small and makes buyers feel uncomfortable. Clutter makes envisioning living in the space more difficult. You have to pack and move anyway, so get started now. Then organize storage bins, your pantry, and closets. Overstuffed storage space tells the buyer the home doesn’t have enough storage. At this stage, we like to tell our Sellers to donate everything versus wasting time hosting a garage sale that yields pennies on the dollar.
  2. Book professional cleaners. It’s deep clean time. Baseboards, ceiling fans, shelves. Once you’ve de-cluttered and organized, it’s easier to clean. Pay special attention to your kitchen and master bathroom – these are rooms buyers will spend the most time in. When finished, set out vases of fresh-cut flowers. It adds a natural scent to the home and a splash of color.
  3. Let there be light. Buyers want a bright, open house. Open all curtains and blinds. Turn on the lights. If you have skylights, go on the roof and clean them off.
  4. Adjust the temperature. Keep the home comfortable, especially with the summer quickly approaching.
  5. Neutralize odors. You get used to the smells of your home. Ask your real estate professional or a friend for a nose check. Have carpets cleaned. If you have pets, give them baths and make sure litter boxes are clean.
  6. Make repairs. Refer to your priority list. If you can help it, don’t give a buyer a reason not to buy. That Honey-Do list finally needs to be done – fix that leaky faucet, replace the broken windowpane or burned-out light bulbs. These are noticeable problems most buyers will catch.
  7. This is by far the biggest, most cost-effective way to change the feel of the home and make it show well. When choosing a paint color, think neutral tones, not splashes of color. Paint can also work wonders on outdated or cheap cabinetry.
  8. Replace Flooring. Does the worn-out, dated and stained carpet need to go? Sellers used to offer “flooring allowances” or “flooring credits” to buyers instead of replacing it themselves. Don’t do this. It calls more negative attention to something that already gets enough and becomes more of a problem than a solution. Try a good steam-clean first. If it doesn’t work, replace it. Any neutral colored, builder grade carpet will go a long way.
  9. Update light fixtures. Nothing places a year on a home like its light fixtures and ceiling fans. These small, reasonably inexpensive details make a huge difference. If you have old, dated light fixtures, consider a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot and upgrade your dining room chandelier, exterior coach lights, and bathroom fixtures.
  10. Buy new towels. Spruce up your kitchen and bathroom for your guests with plush linens. Store away your old ones, or retire them.
  11. Set the table. Stage your dining room table for a nice meal to encourage buyers to imagine what it would be like to entertain in the house.
  12. Enhance curb appeal. Many buyers have made up their minds within 30 seconds of seeing your home. Huge? You bet. Curb appeal is the first impression of your home. Cut the grass, get rid of the weeds and trim up front yard trees. Add color through potted plants or simple, colorful plantings. Paint or re-stain the door, replace the old welcome mat and the house numbers if they are worn. Have a courtyard or porch? Make sure it’s staged with patio furniture. If the exterior stucco or brick of the home is dirty, have it power-washed. Curb appeal is everything.


The last thing you should do for your open house



Prospects will stay longer, ask more questions, and generally be more interested if you’re gone. Your Agent can have candid conversations or hash out a potential deal-making scenario with the buyer or their representative without anyone else at the home to make it potentially uncomfortable.

So treat yourself to a day out and let your prepped home sell itself.

(Questions? Leave a comment below! We have access to staging companies, professional designers, and many other services and trades in Scottsdale and McCormick Ranch to help your home stand out from the rest.)


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