Best Practices for Open Houses

As a seller, you wait in anticipation to see if the open house will bring in a potential buyer. According to the National Association of Realtors 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 44 percent of buyers utilized an open house as a resource in their search for a home and the typical open house visitor is a repeat buyer as opposed to a first-time homebuyer. Most open houses are normally held on a weekend day to be able to appeal to the masses that work Monday through Friday and usually last for an average of 2 hours. Below is an outline of best practices for open houses.

Set the Scene

Begin packing items that you may not need before you move, de-cluttering and depersonalizing the home. Knickknacks and family photos can be distracting to buyers as you want them focusing on the home itself and not images of your last vacation to the beach. Closets should be organized and cleaned out as much as possible to show a larger space. Cleaning your home from top to bottom will help it show much better.

Any home maintenance projects that have been on the honey-do-list should be addressed. These items include, but are not limited to roof repairs, plumbing leaks, and touch up paint. Sprucing up the curb appeal of the home is always a good idea as first impressions can be everything. Is the welcome mat old and grungy? Consider replacing it. Make sure that the home’s exterior shows well. Everything from cleaning out gutters to mowing the lawn. Make sure the landscaping and entry to the home are in the best possible shape.

Evaluate the condition of the flooring. If the carpets are dirty, then consider having them cleaned. Should the carpets be beyond help, then either replace the carpet or possibly consider adding in a flooring allowance with the sale of the home so that the buyer can choose new flooring. Ensure that all lights are functioning and no bulbs are burnt out. This will not only help with showings, but also in the photos for marketing the home.

If you have larger furniture, consider arranging it to make the space feel more open. Or, alternatively place it in storage while your home is listed. Stage each space so it is inviting and presents a vision that is perfect for entertaining. Put fresh towels out in the bathroom and ensure that all toilet lids are closed. If you have bathroom or area rugs, then think about removing them to make the room feel more spacious and reveal the bare floors.

Cleanliness and tidiness are of the utmost importance not only when you have your home listed, but especially for the open house. Neutralize any smells in the house. Nobody wants to walk into a space and smell what you had for dinner last night or nasty pet smells lingering in the air.


If you have pets, it’s best to put them away or take them with you to another location while the open house takes place. Some buyers have allergies to pets or are fearful of them. It’s also a good idea to hide pet items that may usually be out. Dog beds, litter boxes, pet food and water, toys, etc. should all be hidden out of plain sight.

Open House Day

The big day is here and the open house is set to begin in a few hours. Getting your home open-house ready ultimately means paying attention to the details. Start by going room by room to make sure that beds are made, clothes are picked up, blinds are open and clutter is off of the counters in the bathrooms and kitchen. Ultimately, you want the prospective buyer to envision their own stuff in the space and picture themselves living in the space.

Before you leave to let your realtor welcome visitors to the open house, you need to put in a few finishing touches. Set the temperature to a comfortable setting as you don’t want open house visitors to be either too hot or too cold. All valuables should be put in a safe place as well as any prescription medications.

Holding an open house is a terrific way to get buyers through the door and ensure that your home is getting exposure in the marketplace. Be prepared as success is not an accident.