You’ve completed all the tasks your agent suggested you do toward getting your home ready to market. Your listing went live this morning. Just now a potential buyer’s agent called. She has a family who would like to visit your home later this afternoon. Now what do you do?
Depending on showing instructions in your listing, once your home goes on the market, real estate agents may call you (or your agent) to seek permission to show your home. They’ll call anytime, day or evening and they’ll request showings too almost anytime morning, noon or night. Keeping your home “showtime” ready at all times can be challenging, especially if you have children, pets or senior citizens living with you.
Showings & Open House Checklist
- Eliminate Clutter: Not only is clutter unattractive, it’s time consuming to sort through and expensive for you to move. If you have a lot of stuff, collections, and family mementoes, you would be better off renting a small storage unit for a few months.
- Keep, Donate, Throw Away: Go through your belongings and put them into one of these three baskets. You’ll receive more in tax benefits for your donations than pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. It’s faster, more efficient and you’ll help more people.
- Remove Temptations: Take valuable jewelry and collectibles to a safety deposit box, a safe, or store them in a secure location away from your house. Keep medicines in a safe place and out of view. If you have guns, keep them locked in a safe place – not in a bathroom drawer (as one of my buyer clients recently discovered).
- Remove Breakables: Figurines, fine china, crystal and other breakables should be packed and put away in the garage or storage.
- Be Hospitable: You want your home to look like a home. Stage it to show the possibilities, perhaps set the table, or put a throw on the back of the chair by the fireplace with a bookmarked book or Better Homes and Garden Magazine on the coffee table. Leave a bowl of candy or fresh cookies on a kitchen counter with an inviting note. On hot days, buyers often appreciate an invitation to help themselves to ice cold bottled water. Sometimes a letter written to potential buyers with a paragraph from each family member telling why they have loved living in their home helps to sell the house.
- Have a Family Plan Of Action: Sometimes showings aren’t convenient. You can always refuse a showing, but do you really want to miss this potential buyer opportunity? If you have a showing with little notice, get the family engaged. Everyone has a basket and picks up glasses, plates, newspapers or anything left lying around. Put the baskets of belongings in the car and leave the house.
- Get in the Habit: Wash dishes immediately after meals. Don’t let them sit. Clean off countertops. There’s nothing that grosses a buyer out more than running their hand over a sticky surface. Make beds in the morning. Keep pet toys and beds washed and smelling fresh.
- Clean Out the Garage and Attic: Buyers want to see available storage potential as they are wondering where to store holiday decorations and suite cases.
The Essential Five-Minute Clean-Up for Showings
Everyone gets their baskets and cleans up clutter. Check for hazards, like toys left on the floor. Make sure all toys, including bicycles are put away in their proper places.
- Put Pets in Daycare, Sleep Cages or Take Them with You: In the listing instructions, there should be a warning if there is a big dog or other pets on the premises. Buyers with allergies also may appreciate knowing in advance if you have pets.
- Turn on Lights and Open Blinds: Open the drapes, turn on the lights so buyers can really see your house.
- Turn on Music: Have smooth jazz playing as background music.
- Give the Buyer Privacy: The buyer cannot come to your home without being accompanied by an agent. If you’re working from home or it isn’t easy for you to leave, take a walk around the neighborhood or visit a neighbor. Don’t hover over the buyer. Buyers typically become intimidated by your presence. The buyer’s agent knows what they are looking for in their next house. Let their agent sell your house. They will be more inclined to take their time during their visit and actually see your home and all that it offers without you in the next room or sitting on the porch.