First Impressions Count: How to Prepare Your Home for an Open House

When you go for a job interview, you don’t go in sweatpants and a T-shirt. Appearances matter, so you put on your nicest clothes, do/comb your hair, and you get your body language right. House viewings work in the same way. According to Home Staging Resource, 58 percent of agents say staging increases home values by 1-20 percent. To get this right, you have to focus on four key areas―the interior of the house, the exterior, the yard, and the neighborhood. Here’s what you need to know.

In the House

Staging is not optional. If you want a quick sale, the interior of the house will need some work. Start with the basics and replace worn furniture, wallpaper, and carpets and repaint anywhere that isn’t pristine. Declutter, tidy, and clean every inch of the house, and don’t forget the windows. Hiring professional cleaners is usually a good investment, especially for the kitchen and bathroom. You should also depersonalize your home, removing all family photos or trinkets with people’s names. This will help viewers see the home as their own. If you have the money, remodelling the kitchen or bathroom in the style of the day, with modern appliances, would be a great investment.

Creating Curb Appeal

If you can make a great impression on your viewers as they approach the house, they’ll carry that with them as they go inside. The key areas for curb appeal are the front door, garage door, roof, gutters, garden, windows, and front garden. Repointing brickwork and getting fresh paint will also help. Many of these are big-ticket items, but buyers don’t want to be lumped with repair work once they buy your home. If a part of your house hasn’t been updated for a while, some people will use it to justify lower offers, while others will be put off completely.

The Yard

According to HouseLogic, landscaping can give a 5 percent return beyond your initial investment. If you don’t want to spend a lot, at least make sure you cut the grass, trim the hedges, and remove all weeds (this applies to the front garden, too). If any trees are blocking light into your home, you may want to prune or remove some branches. However, when staging the yard, think about what you can add, as well as take away. A splash of color or some fruit trees can add desirability, and extra hedges can help block noise if that’s an issue. However, don’t add anything that requires a lot of maintenance, as this will turn off your less green-fingered buyers.

Location, Location, Location

When you sell a house, you’re also selling the area around it. And this part of the process begins before your prospective buyers even get to the house. What’s interesting about your local area? Are there any historic sights? Are there good museums or other attractions nearby? How’s the night life? Gather a few talking points about your area and use these in your advertisements. Don’t forget to include things like the climate, crime rate, and travel connections too, if they are favorable. If possible, put all of this information together in welcome packs, along with other photos and details about your house. You can leave these on a table for people to take, or have your agent hand them out.

It’s best to get started on all of this before you list your house for sale. If people view the house while work is incomplete, it’ll leave a poor impression. For best results, get more extensive work like the roof or kitchen remodelling done early, as these can sometimes take longer than expected, and do less extensive jobs like cleaning last. First impressions matter, and if you get your staging right, you’ll find they pay off, too.

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.

Photo: Pixabay