Derek English: Open Houses In A Hot Market

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - by Derek English, president, Greater Chattanooga Realtors

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the normal start time of the summer homebuying and selling season. But as we all know, the past two years have been anything but normal. Aside from the pandemic, the real estate market has been “hot” even in the wintertime. And the market doesn’t show any signs of cooling off anytime soon.  

Something that helps homeowners get the most from their investment when they’re looking to sell is hosting an Open House. Why hold an Open House? It’s a chance to throw open the doors and dazzle buyers. Whether you’re looking to list now or even 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. Curb appeal is everything and sprucing up the flower beds with colorful perennial and fresh mulch is a great place to start. Don’t forget about those hardscaped surfaces. A day pressure washing the driveway, sidewalks and patios will really set the stage for your home’s introduction to potential buyers. Lastly, as a seller you should make your home as decluttered and inviting as you can. Remove any large cumbersome furniture that is not being used or items that may make a potential buyer not get a true sense of the space that your home offers. Next is 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 some 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.). Thankfully most gun owners understand the importance of securing their firearms, but I would be remiss to not remind everyone to keep firearms safely secured and out of areas where they may be stumbled upon by children. Once your realtor has given you the “all clear to come home” be sure to do a quick second check of windows locks and doors. 

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 and will help make selling your home as smooth as possible. Realtors help their clients and community throughout the entire year. That’s Who We R.  


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