Making the Most of Your Open House

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If you are planning to sell your home, there are a lot of things you can do to make it more appealing to buyers during an open house. Potential buyers need to be able to see themselves living in it, enjoying it and entertaining family and friends there. And not everything you do has to be huge. Sometimes even the smallest touches can make the biggest difference.

Give Your Family the Boot

At least the youngest members and the pets. You love your kids and dogs — everyone gets that, but you can’t expect people shopping for a home to be thrilled when Fido knocks them down at the door. You also can’t expect to get your house looking and smelling sparkling clean with the kids running around making messes. See about boarding your pets for the day and asking the grandparents to babysit. Then your day guests will be able to imagine their own family in your home rather than yours.

Add Curb Appeal

The front of the house is the first impression, so make sure it’s a good one. You may not have time to grow a towering oak tree, but there are small, inexpensive changes you can make to boost your home’s curb appeal. You can paint the front door with a bold color to make a statement. Just make sure the color coordinates with the rest of the exterior. You can also hang some flower boxes under your front windows and fill with blooming plants such as geraniums or begonias. And don’t forget to trim and mow any existing greenery for a well-manicured look.

Add a Scent

Forget baking cookies for that warm chocolate chip and vanilla scent everyone used to say helped to sell a home. According to Homes and Land, those complex smells make the brain work too hard to be inviting. Instead opt for “single-note organic” scents such as orange, lemon, cinnamon, or cedar.


Most Realtors say that removing personal photos and mementos is one of the first and most important things to do before an open house. Potential buyers need to be able to imagine themselves and their own families in your home and that becomes very difficult when yours is plastered all over the walls. Leave up decor, but stow the family photos under the bed.

Stage the Bathroom

Give your bathrooms an inviting spa-like appeal by rolling fresh white towels and displaying them on bamboo mats or in baskets. Also add things like sea sponges and bath brushes. And be sure to keep artwork and accessories in neutral colors to streamline the look.

Pick the Right Paint

A fresh coat of paint on the walls can add a lot of personality to a home, but there is more psychology that goes into picking paint colors than just choosing what you like. For example, kitchen walls painted light gray to light blue sell homes for much higher than kitchens painted yellow. And for bathrooms, go with a light blue or periwinkle rather than stale white.

Staging your home for an open house can make the difference between getting the contract signed or letting it sit on the market for a year. If you are not great with color and design, enlist the help of a creative friend or ask your real estate agent for suggestions. But even if you choose not to make a lot of changes, remember that cleaning the house from floor to ceiling and decluttering the space will have the biggest impact on potential buyers. Try to look at your home from a buyer’s perspective and you can’t go wrong.

Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.


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