Posted in: Buying a home, Selling a home

Five things buyers and sellers should know this open house season

Open house tips buyers and sellers

Key insights

  • Warm weather matters! Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for open houses in our market.
  • Sellers should take extra precautions to appeal to large groups who are entering their home all at once.
  • Buyers should respect each home they visit, while still doing the reconnaissance needed to determine if the house is a top contender.

Open house season is upon us! Whether you're buying or selling, here are five tips to keep in mind as you plan your weekends around open houses.

Open house tips for sellers

1. Try to see your own dirt

Buyers want homes that would be featured on HGTV or Pinterest – and that means every speck of dirt must go. In addition to dusting and vacuuming, be sure to wipe down your blinds and walls (including baseboards) and check corners for cobwebs. Wash your windows inside and out, using balled up newspapers to minimize streaking.

If you live in an older home where decades of peeling paint layers make it difficult to get everything 100 percent clean, consider hiring professionals.

2. Empty your closets and cabinets

Overflowing closets, cabinets or pantries will give buyers the idea that your house doesn't have enough storage space. Try to downsize your belongings or rent a short-term storage unit to hold your overflow as you sell.

3. Nothing is off limits

While buyers shouldn't dig through your closets or drawers, it's unrealistic to keep a room or closet off-limits. If you usually cordon off areas from pets or children, be sure to remove the gates or barricades.

Don't forget about locked storage spaces in your garage. The more access you give buyers, the more appealing your home will be. To play it safe, plan on finding alternative solutions for securing valuable items when your home is on the market.

4. Clear the premises

Don't hang around your house during the event and don't sit in your car across the street like you're on a stakeout mission. Buyers need to see the property uninterrupted and they may not be honest with themselves (or you) if you remain onsite.

Remember, pets should be removed from your home during an open house, too. It can be a hassle to find a doggy daycare or to keep Rover at the park for three hours, but it's simply not worth turning off buyers who aren't keen on animals. Plus, you don’t want to stress out your pet!

5. Show off the best features

Still love your home? Show it off! In these spring and early summer months, you can display your home's best outdoor features, like a pool or updated landscaping. In the winter, start a roaring fire prior to your open house guests arriving so your home feels like the coziest abode on the block.

If you live near parks or trails, consider printing off local maps to distribute to interested buyers, so they fully understand all the amenities they'll enjoy nearby if they purchase the home.

For buyers

1. Measure away

Bring a measuring tape and keep track of the sizes of the rooms that are most important to you. If you have a "must-keep" antique banquet cabinet, be sure that it fits the back wall in the dining room. As you tour the bedrooms, note if your California king-sized bed will fit in the master suite.

These aren't necessarily deal breakers, but you may find that if you're trying to choose between two homes, room dimensions can be a deciding factor.

2. Pay attention to light

Most open houses happen during the brightest hours of the day, so pay close attention to how well-lit the house is and where the light is coming from. You may want to note the weather when you tour each home, too. If the home seems dim but it's stormy outside, try to return on a brighter day to see the best-case lighting scenario.

3. Put on your friendliest face

It’s okay to chat with the REALTOR® showing the property and try to make a connection of some sort with them, but keep in mind that most interactions will be between your agent and the listing agent should you decide to make an offer on the property.

While your offer will be evaluated and accepted or declined by the seller according to its merits, there are certain issues that can arise as the home proceeds to the closing table. If a disagreement pops up over an inspection, appraisal or what the current homeowner thought was a fixture, it's best to have a friendly relationship from day one to help diffuse issues and agree on compromises.

One caveat: If you are working with an agent already, you should talk to your agent about whether you should go to open houses and how you might want to limit your interaction with the listing agent.

4. Ask questions

Ask about the neighborhood, including schools, parks and the property’s recent tax bills. You’ll also want to consider utility costs when buying the home, such as estimated heating and cooling expenses, which some sellers are willing to share.

5. Pay attention to demand

Try to listen to what other buyers are saying as they look over the home. If they think the home is underpriced or overpriced, that could change your bidding plan. On the other hand, try to keep your feedback to yourself until you've left the property, so you don't give away your hand. If the listing agent asks you any questions about your budget or interest, remain neutral. Keep in mind that the agent is the seller’s agent and may share everything you say with the seller.

Good luck!

Whether you're buying or selling, the next few months will be marked by balloons and signs on street corners. By following these basic rules, you'll be destined for open house success.

Ready to get started? Our agents host hundreds of open houses each weekend. If you're in the market for a new home, check out this weekend's open houses.

Plus, follow #BuyerInsights and #SellerInsights on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter for more tips on buying or selling a home.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings