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Open House Planning

After home improvements are made, it's time to show off your house to potential buyers. Use our comprehensive guide for an exceptional open house.

Essential Open House Tips

Tour Your Home. Critique your house: examine it inside and out, and smell for offensive odors. Ask a trusted friend to join you. Make note of any quick fixes to be made.

Declutter and De-Personalize. To make rooms feel more spacious, remove excess and oversized furniture. Consider rearranging remaining furniture to visually expand rooms. Clean out and organize your closets, garage, cabinets and pantry. Also, remove or hide items like family photographs, knick-knacks and toiletries. Let potential buyers imagine the space as their own.

Bring in More Light. The brighter your home is, the larger it will seem. Wash your windows and screens to let in more light. Repair or replace dingy, torn or sagging screens. Use higher wattage light bulbs to make rooms brighter, especially in basements. When you hold your open house, be sure all lights are on, and all curtains are open.

Get Rid of Odors. Steam clean your carpeting and drapes to eliminate smoke and pet odors. Change your bed linens and towels regularly. Keep the windows open, and keep pets outside as much as possible. On the day of your open house, light a scented candle. You can also simmer apples, cloves and cinnamon on the stove an hour before prospective buyers arrive.

Clean, Clean, Clean. A house that is extra clean makes a powerful first impression. Don't forget to look in places you might otherwise ignore: smudges on light-switch plates or dust on baseboards. And give extra attention to your kitchen and bathrooms, since these are the most important rooms to buyers.

Expose Desirable Features. Show off your house's best qualities: beautiful hardwood floors, custom windows or an amazing view.

Sell with Neutral Colors. Neutral colors like beige or cream help sell your house, even though they may not fit your aesthetic sensibilities. Paint to sell.

Give the Exterior a Facelift. Boost curb appeal with clean gutters, mown lawn and swept walkway. Power wash siding, sidewalks, deck and driveway. Add potted plants – suitable to the season – to your entryway, deck or patio. Let us recommend the right plants for your project.

Summer Open House Tips

When preparing for a summertime open house, you'll want to go that extra mile with your home's exterior:

Accent Your Entryway. Buy a new light fixture, install a new lockset and kickplate, and buy new house numbers.

Keep Your Lawn Impeccable. This is no time for dandelions, brown patches or bare spots. Get your lawn looking its best. Also, add a fresh layer of mulch. Try our Mulch Calculator to see how much you'll need.

Install a New Mailbox. If your mailbox is old and faded, take the time to replace it.

Refresh Your Deck. Rejuvenate your deck furnishings, and add playful items like a bright umbrella or potted plants.

Winter Open House Tips

With its inclement weather and shorter days, winter isn't the ideal time for house hunting. Create a warm, inviting atmosphere to sell during the more frigid months.

Check the Heating System. Replace furnace filters, fill oil or propane tanks, clean registers and air ducts, check your home's ventilation, and arrange a chimney inspection.

Improve Energy Efficiency. Caulk windows and pipes. Add weather stripping around doors, and insulate your water heater and attic. Consider using heavier drapes or insulated shades to block drafts.

Winterize Your Home. Put away summer patio furnishings, grills and garden houses. Close your pool (if applicable), and shut off the outside water.

Keep Up with the Weather. Clear snow, mud and puddles from all walkways and driveways.

Warm Up Your Home. Schedule your open house for high-daylight hours. Set the temperature at a comfortable level. If you have a fireplace, light a fire. Add cinnamon sticks or cloves to the fire for a soothing aroma. Note: Never leave a burning fire unattended.

Adding That Finishing Touch

After making the necessary preparations for your open house, seal the deal with a few finishing touches.

Outdoors. Add a wind chime, birdbath or doormat to make your outdoor space more enticing.

Living Areas. Place fresh flowers in the living room and bedrooms, and softly play relaxing music during the open house.

Kitchen/Dining Room. In the kitchen, put out a bowl of citrus fruit. Run a sliced fresh lemon through the garbage disposal before the open house for a clean scent. Set the dining table with your favorite tablecloth and best china and crystal. And leave bottled water for your potential buyers.

Bed/Bath. Replace shower curtains and liners for a fresh look and that “new smell”. Put car wax on sinks and tubs to get a glossy sheen.

There are many things that can make an open house successful. Don't worry, your hard work will be noticed. Remember, it pays to help buyers envision the house as their home. For other selling tips, check out more articles in our Sell Your House section.

A REALTOR® identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.

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