Kim Bass: Helpful Tips For Open Houses

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - by Kim Bass, president, Greater Chattanooga Realtors
I am so excited that our Annual Greater Chattanooga Realtors® Open House Weekend is scheduled for this weekend, April 27-28. It allows the public an opportunity to preview more than 100 homes in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia - and a chance to win prizes. 

Why hold an Open House? It’s a chance to throw open the doors and dazzle buyers. Whether you’re a part of Open House Weekend, or if you’re looking to list later in the year, these tips will help make your Open House a hit.

Let Your Realtor Take the Lead.
Your job is to make your house look like a million bucks. The job of your realtor, an expert on your local real estate market and what makes buyers tick, is to take care of the rest. The realtor will take the lead on hosting the Open House, communicating with potential buyers' and their agents, and communicating any feedback to you following the Open House.

Try Some Simple Staging. You want your home to look its best while it’s on the market especially during the Open House. Many realtors say the best way to primp your home for its big day is to stage it.

Depending on what your realtor recommends, staging may involve renting new furniture or decor for certain rooms in your home. Consider displaying a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entryway, setting your dining room table to make it look inviting, or turning on your outdoor sprinklers shortly before visitors arrive to make your lawn sparkle.

Clean Like Crazy. When your home is on the market, you need to keep it in showing shape — not only for the Open House, but also for any scheduled showings with buyers. Even though you’ve already (hopefully) cleaned and organized your home for its listing photos, there’s a good chance you’ve let clutter or dust pile up again, especially if you have children or pets. 

Make sure appliances, windows, and mirrors are fingerprint-free. Clean and organize your closets, cabinets, and under the sinks (during the Open House, buyers are allowed to be nosy). Clear every bit of clutter and get rid of it or put it in storage.

Don’t have the bandwidth to do a deep clean? Hire a house cleaning service to do the work for you. A professional cleaning service costs around $115 to $230 on average. If you’re not sure about which service to hire, ask your realtor to recommend cleaners.

Do a Smell Check. If buyers get a whiff of something funky, they’re going to run — not walk — out of your Open House. Prior to the Open House, ask your realtor or a neighbor to do an honest, no-holds-barred smell check. If your house has the aroma of your beloved pet(s), deep clean the carpets, relocate the litter box, and take steps to eliminate traces of Fluffy. If the basement is dank and musty, buy a dehumidifier to remove air moisture and run a fan to circulate the air. If the kitchen drain stinks, drop in a cup of baking soda, then two cups of white vinegar. Enjoy the bubbling, then let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Finally run hot water for 15 to 30 seconds to flush the odor.

Put Your Pictures (and Valuables) Away. Personal belongings such as family photos, awards, and religious art can distract home buyers and make it harder for them to imagine themselves living in your home. You don’t have to go overboard — the idea isn’t to eliminate every trace of yourself — but consider temporarily hiding some pictures and personal effects out of sight during the Open House. Also, there’s a safety element to stowing your personal belongings. It’s important to remember that you’re inviting strangers into your home. Consider securely storing personal items (checkbooks, jewelry, prescription medications, etc.). Also be sure to lock windows and doors afterwards. 

Let the Light In. Light doesn’t only (literally) brighten up your space. It also makes rooms look and feel larger. On Open House day, open all curtains and blinds to let natural light in. Replace every single burnt-out light bulb in and outside the home — buyers should see a working light every time they flip a switch.

Draw Attention to Your Home’s Best Features. Even though you won’t be there, you can still draw visitors’ attention to features in your home that you’d like to highlight. Prior to the Open House, post (friendly, aesthetically pleasing) signs around the house with calls to action such as, “look down, new hardwood floors,” or “gas fireplace, push this button.” Buyers will likely appreciate the help, and that they’re working with a conscientious seller.

After the Open House ends, your realtor will share with you what questions buyers asked and any comments they overheard by visitors. The important thing is to stay open to buyers’ feedback, and to follow your Realtor’s advice about how to respond. Based on buyers’ reactions, your Realtor may recommend that you make certain repairs, do some painting, or invest in additional staging before your next Open House. Whatever they advise, it’s not personal — it’s just the business of selling your home. 

Hopefully these tips will make your Open House a success. Potential buyers who visit during Open House Weekend can register for a chance to win one of five $150 gift cards. Get details and preview scheduled open houses at www.gcar.net.

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