A Safe and Successful Open House

by Harris Howerton, Manager, Westside Office

For most real estate companies, an open house is part of the marketing strategy.

The more potential buyers you can get to view your home, the better chance you have to sell it.

Open houses can provide instant feedback to sellers and provide word of mouth once neighbors know it's on the market.

Open houses also have their drawbacks. You get lookers trying to pick up some decorating hints and curious neighbors who always wanted to know how your house looks on the inside.

Meanwhile, if your agent thinks holding an open house is a good idea for your situation, there are a number of things to do before the big day, including:

-Boost your curb appeal. Mow the lawn, manicure the landscape and plant a few colorful annuals among the landscape or in large containers. Make sure your walkway and front porch are clear from any clutter, debris, leaves, ice or snow. Spruce up the front door, whether it's with a fresh coat of paint, a seasonal wreath, or new hardware.

-Clear the clutter. Nothing turns off prospective buyers - or will get neighbors gossiping - more than a house in disorder. Clear the counters, get rid of the knickknacks, limit the number of family photos and personal items on display. If you have too much furniture, put some of it in storage. Don't crowd your closets - the fewer clothes hanging in them, the larger the closets will appear.

-Get down to the nitty gritty and clean every corner from the kitchen to the laundry room to the kids' rooms. And don't forget the windows. This is the one time you'll want to be sure the windows are sparkling.

-Put expensive jewelry, precious coins, rare stamps and your other small valuable items into a safe deposit box or figure out another place to put them so they are out of sight. Secure all medications, including prescription drugs.

-Turn on some soft music.

-Make sure everything is working properly. If that door handle has been loose or the dishwasher isn't functioning, now is the time to make the fix.

-Pretty it up. Place some fresh flowers in several locations throughout the house. If it's fall or winter, have a fire roaring in the fireplace.

-Make it smell good. Nothing is more welcoming than the smell of a freshly baked apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. Bake something yummy just before the open house gets started.

-Have somewhere to go. The sellers should not be present for the open house.

-Finally, ask your Realtor's advise before the open house. Get suggestions on what can be improved. Is there too much furniture? Should the carpets be cleaned first, etc.? It's sometimes difficult to look at our own homes objectively when we see it day in and day out.

-Take the advise your Realtor gives you and you will have a successful and safe open house.

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