By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
Here’s what you can do to get your home ready for its big reveal, whether it be an open house or showings!
1. Time It Right
Showings and even some open houses are by appointment these days and might limit the number of people in your place at once. To maximize traffic, avoid having your open house during holidays, big community events or unofficial “holidays” like Super Bowl Sunday.
2. Let Your REALTOR® Take the Lead
In your own personal Home Show, your REALTOR® has two roles. To you, they are the director, giving you instructions on how to prepare for visitors and what to do during the event. To buyers, your REALTOR® is the host. They will welcome viewers, introduce your home’s impressive features, and take questions from the audience.
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.
Your REALTOR can also stage a broker’s open house on your behalf. Unlike standard open houses, where buyers can stop by, at broker’s open houses, only REALTORS® are invited to attend.
There are two main benefits of having a broker’s open house:
1. It gives your listing more exposure.
2. It allows you to get feedback from real estate agents on your home.
3. 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. There are also some easy staging tricks you can try on the day of your open house. Consider displaying a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entryway or setting your dining room table to make it look inviting.
4. 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.
5. Do a Smell Check
If buyers get a whiff of something funky, they’re going to run — not walk — out of your open house or showing. A week prior to the open house, ask your REALTOR® to do an honest, no-holds-barred smell check. Some possible smell solutions:
· If your house has the aroma of your beloved pet(s), deep clean the carpets, relocate the litter box, and take steps to eliminate all olfactory 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.
6. Put Your Pictures (and Valuables) Away
You want your home to feel cozy and inviting, but not like someone specific (you, for example) is living there. 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.
There’s a safety element to stowing your personal belongings, too: Though your REALTOR® will be at the open house, you’re inviting strangers into your home. Secure valuable and medications away.
7. Let the Light In
Light doesn’t only (literally) brighten up your space. It also makes rooms look and feel larger. On showing or open house day, open all curtains and blinds to let natural light in. (And in the week before the event, make sure curtains and blinds are squeaky clean.)
8. Give Your House Some Extra Curb Appeal
Buyers will judge your house on its outsides. So, make last-minute improvements to turn up your home’s curb appeal. Cut the grass, prune the trees, and trim the shrubs. Touch up porch fixtures and furniture with a little paint. Heck, paint the whole porch, if your budget allows. Plant new shrubs or set out potted flowers.
9. Draw Attention to Your Home’s Best Features
After your REALTOR® signs in and welcomes buyers to your home, they typically will have some time to wander around on their own. Even though you won’t be there, you can still draw visitors’ attention to features in your home that you’d like to highlight.
What to Do During and After Showings
Once you’ve done everything you can to make your house look and feel amazing to buyers — and your REALTOR® is on site to assume their hosting duties — the time during your showings is yours to enjoy. Go to the park, get a three-course lunch, do whatever you like as long as you’re free to take calls.
After the showing ends, your trusted REALTOR® will share with you what questions buyers asked and any comments they overheard by visitors. Buyers’ remarks will likely run the gamut, including some that could be negative. (“Why is the closet such a mess,” for example.)
The important thing is to stay open to buyers’ feedback, and to follow your REALTORs® advice about how to respond. Based on buyers’ reactions, they 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.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org