How to Prepare for an Open House: A Four-Step Plan

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Author: Seth Murphy

Seth Murphy first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work. He created papadiy.com to share his ongoing projects and to motivate himself to do more.

Do open houses still work? You’d be forgiven for thinking they were a thing of the past—an outdated, analog player in today’s digital game. But the trick is to combine the old with the new by holding an open house immediately after the home is listed for sale online.  According to CNBC, sellers that used this strategy got higher prices and quicker sales than those who didn’t. However, this means you need to get your house in order before listing day. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Review, Analyze, and Plan

If any parts of your house—interior or exterior—are damaged, worn, or outdated, you can expect offers below your asking price. Walk around your house and make a list of everything that could be improved. If anything is broken (e.g., a leaking roof, garage door that won’t open, cracked tiles, blocked gutters), put these on top of the list. According to HGTV, remodels of the bathroom and kitchen are the best investments in terms of increasing your home value and getting you a quicker sale. Once you’ve made your list, choose which improvements you want to make based on the time you have and the money you’re willing to invest.

Step 2: Repair, Replace, and Remodel

Remodelling can bring your home up to date and make it more valuable to buyers, but make sure you leave enough time for any extensive remodels. The biggest job will probably be the kitchen. A remodel here takes four to six weeks or more depending on the size of the room and the extent of the changes. The bathroom comes in a close second at around four and a half weeks. If you have more than one big remodel planned, you may want to complete them one at a time. This will minimize the disruption to your life while the work is being done, but of course, it will take longer to finish the projects.

Step 3: Stage, Update, and Redecorate

Once the major remodeling work is done, you can move on to staging. Go through each room one by one and replace tired or outdated furniture, blinds, curtains, and carpets. A good trick to make your home more in-line with current interior design trends is to replace your lighting fixtures because these are some of the first things in the house to start looking dated. If necessary, give each room a fresh coat of paint or put new wallpaper up. Make sure to go for neutral pastel colors that have a more universal appeal. If you haven’t had a professional landscaper in, cut the lawn, weed, and trim any overgrown hedges, particularly at the front of the house to increase your curb appeal.

Step 4: Declutter, Tidy, and Clean

When the redecorating is done, declutter and tidy the house. Your goal here is to make the whole house look like a showroom. If you have a lot of stuff, you might need to put some into storage to achieve this. After all this work, you’ll need to give the house a thorough deep cleaning. This is a time when it’s better to bring in the pros rather than do it yourself. Professional cleaners know all the tricks to get out stubborn grime, mold, and other stains, and that extra sparkle might be what turns a viewer into a buyer. It probably costs less than you think, too. The average price of a maid service to clean your house interior in San Diego, CA, is only between $117 and $228.

How Long Will This Take?

If you have a lot of remodeling to do, you could be looking at eight weeks or more before you can put your house up for sale and hold the open house. However, the work that you do will make it easier for you to get your asking price—or even bump that price up a little. So get started on your plan today!

Finally, whether you are an investor or homeowner, when you are ready to sell, make sure you have the right team.

You might also enjoy Seth’s Murphy’s article “Four Signs the Time to Downsize Your Home Has Arrived.”