Ten Tips for a Seller’s Open House

You may think that keeping your house neat and tidy is all you need to do when showing it to buyers, but you’d be wrong. Follow these ten tips to create an open house that will make them want to come back and buy!

1. Welcome potential buyers with fresh flowers on a table in the foyer.

2. Create a cheerful impression with good lighting. While you don’t want an institutional feel, the house should be more brightly lit than usual. Put higher-wattage light bulbs in lighting fixtures, and turn the lights on even in the daytime.

Let in as much outdoor light at possible. Open the curtains and blinds to illuminate the interior — unless your windows overlook an unpleasant neighborhood view. Make sure the curtains hang level when they are open.

If your rooms are still dark, strategically-placed mirrors can increase light levels.

3. If you have a fireplace, light a fire — as long as the weather is suitable and your realtor is supervising. Fires are wonderfully appealing to buyers. If the fireplace is not in use, put a screen or basket of flowers in front of the grate.

4. Welcoming scents can also create a good first impression. Bake a loaf of bread or some cookies before potential buyers arrive, and let the odor waft through the house. Or scatter some cinnamon on a cookie sheet and place it in a warm oven during the open house. If you do this, be sure to have snacks available in the kitchen or dining room. Buyers can be disappointed when they smell treats without tasting any!

The house has undoubtedly been cleaned so that there are no pet, smoke, or mildew odors to annoy buyers, but don’t forget that old cooking odors can be disturbing as well.

5. A pleasant scent in the bathrooms is also a good idea. Do not use potpourri, scented sprays or candles, or room fresheners. Many people have allergies to these products. Half filling the tub with hot water and scented bubble bath creates a pleasant fragrance that will remain after the water has been drained away.

Sparkling mirrors and fresh handle towels make a good impression, too.

6. Keep the temperature comfortable. You want the house to be warm and welcoming in cold weather, cool and comfortable when it’s hot outside. It’s often better to heat the house a little warmer (or cooler) than usual and turn it to a normal temperature just before buyers arrive, so the sound of heating or cooling elements will not distract viewers.

7. Turn on background music, as buyers can be uncomfortable in completely silent places. Keep the volume low.

8. Provide handouts. Buyers view many houses, and it’s easy to confuse one property with another later.

Be sure to mention assets that are not immediately visible. If your house has an Energy Star heating or air condition unit, mention it — and display your utility bills.

If you have unusual or antique fittings that will be included in the sale, put additional information about them on the handout.

Include a professionally-drawn house plan, including room measurements, if you have one available.

9. Create a bulletin book or notebook with photographs showing the house at other times of the year. This is particularly useful if your landscaping includes plants or shrubs with seasonal appeal, like the spectacular spring blooms of rhododendrons or the blazing fall foliage of burning bushes.

10. Find out what buyers thought after an open house! Their comments — positive as well as negative — will help you prepare for the next event.

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