Yes, I stalk open houses. What’s not to love here? There’s the opportunity to legally go into someone’s home and compare closet sizes, drool over new appliances, check out flooring options and eat cookies. My parents have been in the Real Estate business for most of my life, so I’ve been around the block a few times. From that perspective and the vantage point of being the targeted audience, I have an opinion about what makes a great Open House. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Here are my suggestions.
Get Your Underwear Off The Dining Room Table
I gotta tell ya; this leaves an impression. It’s not the “OMG, I need to live here forever” thing either. It’s more like, “EWWWWWWW.” Cause now I’m in Cooties Mode about the entire house. To me as your home’s invited tourist, the most important thing is a CLEAN home. I’m talking, “Martha Stewart is coming to do a photo shoot” clean. Now, I’m a well raised Southern gal with pretty decent manners, so I’m not going to mention your unmentionables out loud, but trust me. Someday it will be featured in a blog post, so there’s that to consider as well.
Declutter your home. Remove the gallery wall of your family’s most embarrassing moments. Organize closets and drawers, pare down your stuff to highlight the room’s assets. Fix anything easily fixed. Open your curtains or blinds and let the light flood the room. If you’re a smoker, stop smoking in your house immediately and give it a deep clean including carpets and upholstery. Your goal is to make your home appear as welcoming and inviting as humanly possible.
You want people to imagine the beautiful world that will open up to them if they owned this house. Don’t leave the impression that there’s not enough room in the laundry area to fold clothes, or that they too will be stuck wearing 10-year-old Wal-Mart Jockeys if they had your mortgage payment.
What’s That Smell?
A Realtor recently told me that a study shows that 75% of buyers prefer a house not to smell. YOU THINK??? Who the hell are the other 25%? Who wants to walk into a house and be knocked over by the smell of Pine Sol, Bleach, pets, smoke or that, “I’ve been vacant for two years” odor that seems to soak into your skin.
I don’t have to be an expert to tell you that the smell of cookies baking makes a mouth water. However, you’re going for more of a fresh, clean smell. The smell of lemons, green tea, vanilla or fresh linens. And if you could make your house smell like freshly mowed grass, well that might be money in the bank.
Certain smells just bring back wonderful happy childhood memories, you instantly relax and are transported into a better mood. But be careful! Just like no one wants to sit next to that man wearing an entire bottle of Old Spice, they won’t want to stay in a house that has an overpowering smell. Gently reel them in closer, don’t send them running for fresh air, tissues and a Haz-Mat suit.
Kick Yourself To the Curb
Unless you are personally conducting your Open House, don’t be there. Take your spouse, kids, pets, extended family and run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. Let your Realtor handle the Open House.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a Masochist. There’s no way I’m going to stick around to hear other people’s criticisms concerning my home and decor. And it always amazes me that the majority of comments I overhear seem to be more about the decor than the house itself.
From the perspective of a potential buyer, we don’t want you there either. If you’re huddled in the corner somewhere glaring at me, or worse crying, I’m not sticking around. I’m a woman…. I can predict the unleashing of major drama a mile away. And since I’ve got enough in my life, I don’t feel that I can give yours the proper attention it deserves. Plus my cell phone data plan is already stretched to the limits and can’t handle another video. As for pets, I’ll be honest; large dogs intimidate me. I appreciate their absence so I can view your house without having to keep a wary eye on your pet.
An Open Bag of Doritos Isn’t Good Enough
Your Open House deserves better than a bag of chips thrown on the counter. These free loaders are your potential buyers. While some of us are eating our way through brunch and being really nosey, the rest are looking for a new home.
You want them to stay as long as possible and absorb the atmosphere, hence you better feed them. Choose appetizers that they can carry around the house, you don’t want them necessarily huddled in your kitchen or around your dining table the entire time. And lay them out as if you are entertaining the CEO of all things important. This way, they can also imagine the parties they may have when your home becomes theirs.
And honestly, it’s like those old Snicker’s commercials, throw some food at them to keep them in a good mood. Your home will look better to them through the haze of a chocolate coma.
Even the Oscars has Goodie Bags
Can you think of an event that is less worthy of receiving Goodie Bags? I mean, come on! Those people are young, rich, rich, rich and famous, and they get a Goodie Bag for attending the Best Party ever??? Where’s the justice?
Your Open House Tourist deserve something more at the end than the task of taking out a restraining order on your Realtor. At least have flyers with high-quality pictures including the inside and outside of your house available. If you have warranties on your roof or appliances, say so! When was the roof replaced? How old is the water heater? And is it gas or electric.? What is the square footage of your garden shed or garage? Does anything come with the house like certain pieces of furniture or the washer & dryer? When were the windows replaced and are they double glass?
Highlight the awesome things about your home. Tell us what we may have forgotten to ask while we were there. Then include your asking price and the contact information of your Realtor. Throw in a small pad of paper and a pen so we can take notes. And if you’re feeling generous, maybe a chocolate mint or two to tide us over.
Open House Wrap Up
An excellent Realtor knows all these things, but don’t assume. Check with them about their plans for your Open House. Selling a home can be one of the most stressful events that a family can go through, so give yourself a break! A great Open House can sell your home fast, I’ve seen it happen! But it takes some work on your part; you can’t blame the Realtor if the best thing that happened at your Open House was a spontaneous collection plate for new undies!
Happy Open House & Good Luck!