I admit it. Having been in the business for about eight years, I tend to forget sometimes that some of my sellers who are selling for the first time simply don't know what they need to do to prepare for an open house.
So if you're about to have your house open for the first time this weekend or in the near future, here are a few pointers:
1. Clean. Dust the tables, vacuum, and pick up dirty laundry. Do the dishes -- both those that need to be hand washed and those that go in the dishwasher. Opening up the dishwasher and seeing it full of dirty dishes can be a little unappealing.
2. Remove pets. Remember that some buyers may be allergic to certain animals or just may not be an animal-lover. Even though your cat may "stay to itself," seeing it laying on the bed could be a turn off for some. Same goes for hamsters, guinea pigs or any other creature that lives in a cage. You may feel confident that they won't get out, but a buyer may not share that same assuredness.
3. Put away personal paperwork. Don't leave bills, listing paperwork or other personal items out on the counter.
4. Put away valuables. Never leave jewelry or other items that have monetary or sentimental value out in the open. Better not to have the temptation there.
5. Put away prescriptions.
6. Clear the front sidewalk, driveway and patio/deck. During the winter months, make sure the snow and ice are cleared from the walkways, driveway and patio or deck. It encourages buyers to walk around the property to get a better idea of the yard size, etc.
7. Mow the lawn and clean up landscaping. During the spring, summer, and fall months, make sure the lawn is cut, weeds are pulled, bushes are cut back, and leaves are raked up. The buyer's first impression will be made the moment they drive up to your house. Do what you can to make it the best impression.
8. Try to avoid using strongly scented room deodorizers or cleaners. It seems more and more people are sensitive to strong odors. What you or I might find as a pleasing odor, may be offensive to someone else.
9. Don't hang around during the open house. Try to be out of the house at least 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the scheduled time. Buyers typically don't feel comfortable looking at a house with the seller in their midst. If you come home and see cars out front, drive around the block a few times. Trust that your agent will contact you to let you know how things went.
Bottom line is you want to make the buyers feel welcome. It's a lot of work to keep your house in showing condition. But the time and effort you put into it could set you apart from the other opens going on at the same time. That makes it worth it, doesn't it?