Editor’s Note: As restrictions related to COVID-19 continue to fluctuate, the National Association of REALTORS® is encouraging virtual home showings, regardless of whether in-person showings are allowed by states or local communities.
If you’re considering holding an open house, your agent will have an honest conversation with you about any concerns, including whether doing so would contradict current government recommendations or mandates, especially in geographic areas with shelter-in-place mandates. If after discussing these issues, you and your agent mutually agree to an open house, your agent will discuss necessary precautions to minimize exposure to and the spread of COVID-19.
Everyone knows that selling your house is a big decision, and there are so many emotions involved, not to mention all of the work it takes to get your house ready to sell!
Well, having been through the process multiple times and having to sell homes super quickly, I thought I’d share my simple tips for getting your home ready to show. You ready?
To make this as clear and easy to follow as possible, I broke down the process into three categories: things to do before listing, things to do consistently during the listing period, and things to do the day of a showing.
Things to Do Before Listing Your House
1. Enlist a real estate agent! You can interview several and choose the one who you feel the most comfortable with. Having an agent you trust and respect is crucial for a happy selling experience.
2. Give your agent a house tour. Have your agent walk through your home and advise if any remodeling work is warranted before you list the house. You might be surprised at the things that they will tell you to leave alone.
For example, in one of the houses I sold, I had this adorable little girl’s room with large floral wallpaper (pictured above). It was clearly catered to a young girl, so prior to listing our home, I was worried we would need to remove the wallpaper or paint over it.
However, our agent advised us to leave it alone because the room showed well with the decorative style. It turns out one of the first guests who toured the house had a two-year-old daughter who fell in love with that very room! For them, the room was a big selling point of the house. However, even if someone with boys walked through, they might have thought, "No big deal, we can repaint that one wall."
3. Dejunk your house. Go through each room in your home to remove clutter. Throw away or donate belongings that you no longer need, or use and box up items that you won’t need during the listing period. Too much stuff can crowd your space and make it feel smaller than its actual size.
Even though dejunking an entire house can seem totally daunting, it’s actually my favorite step! Getting rid of all the excess we've accumulated over the last years always feels so liberating. Plus, it means less for you to pack up, move, and unpack later.
Once you've done these steps you’re ready to move onto the next phase of preparations!
Things to Consistently Do During the Listing Period
1. Maintain the best possible curb appeal. While this tip might seem obvious, you would be shocked at how many open houses I went to where sellers put no effort into their home's outside appearance. In fact, when I worked in a real estate office, I heard plenty of stories of agents pulling up to houses with clients and having the clients want to drive away before even going inside!
First impressions are crucial, and your home's front is no exception. During the listing period, you should take extra care to make sure your lawn is mowed, your garden is weeded, and flowers are planted. At the very least, make sure your porch is swept and you've sprayed for bugs; nothing turns someone away on a house tour like staring spiders in the face while waiting for the agent to unlock the door.
In the fall and winter, make sure leaves are raked, stray branches are picked up, and sidewalks are shoveled and salted.
2. Depersonalize. While prepping for house tours, take out anything that is super kitschy or specific to your tastes. The goal here is to make your home appeal to as many different people as possible. Don't worry, this doesn't mean you have to go crazy and eliminate everything with personality. For instance, if you have a nice focal gallery wall of family photos, leave them, as it might give potential buyers decorating ideas. Plus, it looks more appealing than a big empty wall.
3. Stage your home. Staging your home means rearranging furniture and decor, or even repainting, to make it look most pleasing to the eye. For example, your side tables might typically not be decorated because you’re worried about little people breaking things, but for the tour, it’d be nice to place little plants and candles on them (like pictured above).
You don't have to spend a ton of money doing this; sometimes just rearranging items from room-to-room or shifting around furniture can make a huge visual difference.
You're almost done, time to move on to the last phase!
Things to Do the Day of a Showing
1. Make sure your home is clean and shown in its best light. When we sold our first home, our agent instructed us to turn on all of the lights, open the blinds, and keep all bedroom doors open before any showing. Basically, do anything to make your home feel brighter or bigger.
Don’t worry, you don't need to freshly vacuum before every showing if you aren't able to, but make sure to make the beds, stow away toys, and generally ensure everything is neat and tidy!
It’s especially important to ensure your bathrooms are clean -- make sure toilets are flushed, seats are down, towels are picked up and counters are wiped. This can be especially difficult if you have a baby, but it’s worth it! I had a friend who threw all her baby's belongings (chair, changing pads, bassinet, etc.) into the back of her car trunk before each showing.
2. Try to use all of a potential buyer’s senses. I have a vivid memory of the time I walked into our first home (before it was ours). The house was clean and homey and smelled of cookies.
Now, I can't say for certain how much that impacted my final decision, but I still think about it eight years later. It was the feeling of "this could be our home" that was comforting. You can light a candle or burn incense. And minimize distractions by turning off TVs and electronics.
3. Disable alarms, gather your pets, and get out! Last step in the process: Leave your house. I know some people stay in their home for various reasons during showings, but honestly, I don’t believe it's the best idea. It makes potential buyers feel uncomfortable or want to leave more quickly.
Often, homeowners want to give tips about the house or gush about the neighborhood, then unknowingly say the wrong thing and turn off prospective buyers. Even if you have a house full of kids and nowhere to go, ask a neighbor if you can hang out in their backyard for a bit, or load everyone up in the car and go get yourself a treat. (You've earned it!)
Well, there you have it friends! I hope these tips will make you feel a little more comfortable throughout the listing process.