Tips for Preparing for an Open House

Male Realtor Showing Female Client Around House
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Real estate agents often use open houses as a way to market for-sale properties. Although not all homes are candidates for an open house due to their location or condition, for the right property, they may be useful in drawing buyer traffic and increasing a listing's exposure to other agents.

The Best Time for an Open House

Open houses are generally held on weekends when homebuyers are off work and out shopping for homes. When choosing your open house date, you'll want to avoid competing with holidays, community celebrations, or any special events (like the Super Bowl, for example). Check the weather forecast, too, because cold or rainy days tend to make people stay home.

At Least 7 Days Before

Many sellers inquire about their open house as they're signing the listing agreement. Though they might be eager to get started, the home needs to be in prime condition before an open house is a smart marketing strategy.

Before holding your first open house, you'll want to:

  • Host a broker's preview . Even if your home is not listed with a brokerage, if you are willing to pay a selling agent a commission, you can invite agents and brokers to preview your home. Agents can give you valuable feedback about how your home shows and whether your home pricing will meet buyer expectations.
  • Clean and stage your home. Sometimes sellers don't want to fully stage their home, but it's important to at least remove personal items and move some of your furniture into storage. Doing so can make the space look larger, and it can also help buyers better envision themselves in the home. (In fact, studies show 83% of buyers say so).
  • Clear out valuables. Be sure to remove items not included in the sale; if buyers don't see it, they won't want it. Telling a buyer she cannot have your dishwasher because it's too expensive to leave behind or that the ceiling fan does not stay with the house will only make the buyer want it more.

A Tip for Pet Owners

You should also make outside-the-home arrangements for any pets before the big event. Selling a home where pets live is difficult enough without advertising their presence. Pets are a distraction during an open house, too, and you want buyers to admire your home, not your cockatoo.

48–72 Hours Before

The days leading up to the open house, clean and scour the house top to bottom. Forget preconceived notions about cleanliness; pay attention to small details and concentrate on making the home appear immaculate. Vacuum cobwebs from corners, wipe windowsills, and wash the windows—inside and out; buff surfaces, appliances, and floors to a gleaming shine; clean and fluff bedding, towels, and rugs; touch up spots on the walls; sweep out the garage; and make arrangements to have your lawn maintained.

Part of your home marketing should include printing four-color flyers or brochures promoting your home, so talk to your agent about creating these. Make sure they include photographs, specs, and pertinent information (like the price), and stack them on a central counter or table for buyers to take home from the event.

24 Hours Before

Most of your work should be completed by now, and any anxiety caused by last-minute chores should disappear. At this point, your home sparkles and glitters, and you may be thinking to yourself that the house looks too nice to sell! Consider if you are truly committed to selling, because if you're going to experience seller's remorse, you may as well work through that process before your first open.

Plan to Eat Out

Go out to dinner after you're done prepping to reward yourself. Dining out has an added benefit, too: you won't be tempted to dirty up the house!

In the time leading up to your event, open all the windows to air out the house, pick up treats for your open house guests, give every room a once-over, and arrange flowers in attractive vases in appropriate places throughout your home to add color and floral fragrance. Once you do that, you're done with preparation. 

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Association of REALTORS' HouseLogic. "10 Tricks for Hosting an Open House."

  2. National Association of REALTORS. "2019 Profile of Home Staging," Page 7.

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