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Brick house

How to Prepare for Your Open House

Open Houses are the best way for potential home buyers to experience being in the space and imagining themselves and their families living in the home. The condition of your home at the Open House will affect a potential buyer's opinion of your home and the listing price.

Here is a checklist to ensure your home will look its absolute best!

NOTE—It's not always possible or practical to complete everything on our list. However, keep in mind that the more preparation you are able to do will have a direct impact on the success of your Open House!

General Organization Tips

Buyers want to be able to visualize themselves, their families and their things in your home. Make it as easy as possible for them by simplifying the space. When it comes to preparing for an open house (and your listing photos) the emptier you can make your house, the better. Here are some organization tips:

  • Remove excess furniture if possible—Oversized or too much furniture can make even spacious rooms seem small and crowded. Give your home some breathing room by removing excess pieces.

  • Declutter—Clutter is a major distraction when buyers are walking through a home. You want them to focus on all the great features of the house, not stare at the mountain of unfolded laundry in the corner of the closet or the stack of mail cluttering up the kitchen counter. Remove as much general clutter as possible, including shoes, jackets, wires, etc.

  • Remove Personal Items—In addition to clearing out the clutter, you’ll want to remove items like framed family photos and memorabilia. It’s hard for a buyer to picture living in the home if they see photos of you and your family around every corner. Additionally, it’s a good idea to remove any potentially polarizing items from view, such as religious artifacts and any items of a political nature. If possible, remove all children's toys from living areas.

  • Hide Pet Items—If possible, remove/hide all indications of pets, including pet supplies, cages and toys.

  • Hide Your Valuables—Hide all valuables, jewelry and prescription medication.

  • Organize Closets and Cupboards—Studies show that almost half of all buyers list ample storage as a requirement. Even if your home has plenty of closets, storage areas, and pantry space, if every nook and cranny is filled to the brim, it may give the impression that there’s not enough space. Try to remove as many of the belongings from each storage area as possible.

  • Consider “Staging” Your Home—A professional staging consultant can add accents and touches here and there, or create an entire new look for your home. You should consider whether this will add enough perceived value in the minds of potential buyers to justify the expense. If you do opt to bring in a staging professional, it may also be a good idea to have them complete their work prior to taking your listing photos.

General Cleaning Tips

Now that you’ve cleared out excess furniture, clutter, personal items and other knick-knacks, it’s time to clean! here’s no better way to show buyers you’ve taken good care of your home than for it to be spotless! Here are some invaluable cleaning tips:

  • Hire a Cleaning Service—If you’re too busy with the many other tasks that come with getting your house ready to sell, consider hiring a cleaning service (and maybe a professional organizer) to come in and do a one-time, deep cleaning of your home. Whether you hire a pro or do it yourself, be sure to include every nook and cranny! Include dusty baseboards, backsplashes, grime and fingerprints on appliances, backsplashes, closets, cobwebs, etc.

  • Professionally Shampoo Carpets—A professional carpet cleaning will beautify carpets and make your home smell fresh and new, in addition to reducing pet and cooking odors you may not notice.

  • Wash all Windows—Natural light is a huge selling feature, and you’ll be surprised how much extra light you can let in just by cleaning the windows — both inside and out.

  • Mop all Hardwood floors.

Repairs and Maintenance

  • Replace Burned Out BulbsTry to make sure all light bulbs are the same color temperature.

  • Make all Necessary Repairs—Buying a home is a huge investment, so you can be sure potential buyers are looking at your home with a critical eye. Your Neilson Team listing Agent will walk through your home with you and suggest repairs which will be worthwhile. It’s always better to make necessary repairs before the Open House, than to try to explain away the problem to a potential buyer.

  • Address Cosmetic Issues—Add a fresh layer of caulk in the bathroom, patch holes in walls, etc. Do everything you can to help potential buyers focus on what they like about your home, instead of fixating on small but obvious issues.

  • Paint—Adding a fresh coat of paint throughout the home is one of the easiest things you can do to spruce up your listing. Make sure to use a neutral color that will appeal to most buyers.

Exterior Tips

  • Remove all cars from driveway and in front of home.

  • Hide all trash cans and debris from view

  • Clean up landscaping (mow lawn, trim shrubs, rake leaves, etc)

  • Remove any visible cobwebs from porch, eaves, windows and doorways

  • Fix torn window screens

  • Repair loose gutters

  • Power wash the entire house, deck, driveway and sidewalk.

  • Clean deck/patio, tidy up outdoor furniture

  • Remove cover from BBQ grill and open patio umbrella if there is one

  • Hide all trash cans and debris from view if possible

  • Remove all toys, bikes, pet supplies, sports equipment, garden tools and other loose items from front and back yard

  • Remove visible water hoses

  • Clean pool if open, if not, be sure cover is secure

  • Remove all pool supplies, chemicals, vacuum, hoses, etc

  • Turn on pool fountains/water features

Interior Tips


  • Clear countertops completely (No knife blocks, cooking supplies, mail, etc)

  • Remove all fingerprints from stainless steel appliances and other shiny surfaces

  • Clear refrigerator and other appliances of magnets, loose papers, mail, photos, coupons, etc

  • Remove dishes from sink and hide all cleaning supplies, sponges, etc

Dining Room

  • Clear table; dust and polish tabletop

  • Place one decorative centerpiece if available

  • Straighten all chairs and space evenly

  • Remove booster seats, high chairs, toys, pet items, loose wires, etc


Living / Family Rooms

  • Remove stacks of magazines, mail, papers, etc

  • Clean fireplace if needed

  • De-clutter all shelves, mantles and tables

  • Fluff and arrange furniture and pillows

  • Remove all children's toys if possible

  • Remove all pet items

  • Cleanup all loose wires, etc


  • Make beds with decorative pillows/shams if available

  • Clear all night stands and dressers of all clutter and personal items including photos, alarm clocks, Kleenex, phone chargers, jewelry, etc

  • Remove family photos from walls



  • Remove ALL personal hygiene items from showers and tubs, including shampoo, soap, sponges, brushes, etc

  • Put toilet lid down

  • Remove trash can, toilet brush and plunger

  • Remove all dirty or used towels. Leave only fresh clean towels


  • Remove all laundry supplies including detergent, fabric softener, etc

  • Remove folded laundry, all loose clothing

  • Remove laundry baskets, hampers, hangers, racks, etc

  • Remove all children's toys, pet items, sporting equipment, shoes, jackets, etc


Questions about Your Open House?

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