Prepare Home Showing

Preparing to Show a House for Sale

House showings can be scheduled without much advance notice, so ideally, your home should be kept spotless while it’s listed for sale. You want to be prepared to show the house whenever someone calls.


Before the first showings

  1. Clean thoroughly: Steam the carpets, mop or vacuum hard floors, clean windows, polish appliances and give the bathrooms a serious scrubbing.
  2. Secure your belongings: Lock away any valuables to avoid theft of expensive items or private information.
  3. Have a plan for pets and kids: Your showings are much more likely to go smoothly if kids and pets are not around.
  4. Depersonalize and declutter: Room by room, remove little items that clutter up the space and make rooms look smaller. Remove family photos and personalized decor — you want buyers to picture themselves living in the home, and they can’t do that with your family pictures on the wall.
  5. Rearrange furniture as needed: Remove furniture to make rooms seem bigger, and swap pieces in and out of different rooms to give each space an obvious purpose. For example, add a desk and chair to a bonus room to show it as a home office, or move a twin bed into an empty bedroom.
  6. Don’t forget the outside: Curb appeal helps your home make its first impression, and your to-do list will vary seasonally. Common tasks include planting flowers, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, raking and shoveling snow.
  7. Keep storage spaces tidy: Every buyer is looking for a home with plenty of storage, which means they’re going to be opening your closets, pantry and garage doors. Don’t just shove extra belongings into closets — they need to look tidy and not overfilled.
  8. Highlight the best features: Identify the features that are most attractive about your home. If you have beautiful hardwood floors, remove the rug that’s covering them up. Love your stainless steel appliances? Don’t hide them behind refrigerator magnets or dish towels.


Ongoing home showing tips

  1. Keep family members in the loop: Make sure everyone who lives in your house knows when showings are scheduled so they can keep their spaces tidy.
  2. Do a daily cleaning: Be vigilant about cleaning up daily messes, like crumbs on the table, coffee spills on the counter or toothpaste drips in the bathroom.
  3. Avoid strong-smelling foods: Keep your meal prep simple and avoid foods that leave long-lasting odors.
  4. Keep pet areas clean: Clean up after your pets immediately and wash their bedding regularly.
  5. Make it light and bright: Open blinds and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible, and leave lights on when you vacate for a showing.
  6. Hide pet food or litter: Not everyone is a dog or cat person! Buyers shouldn’t even be able to tell you have a pet.
  7. Empty trash cans: To avoid bad odors, regularly empty trash cans in every room.
  8. Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature: If tours will be happening when you’re at work and you usually turn the heat off, keep it on so that buyers will be comfortable during their tour. Same goes for the summer — if you have a nice, cool house, buyers will be inclined to stay longer and enjoy the home.
  9. Provide refreshments: Make your home feel welcoming with snacks, candy and desserts. Don’t forget to leave a garbage can in plain sight so visitors can clean up after themselves.
  10. Consider seasonal ambience: A fireplace on in the winter or freshly cut spring flowers are always nice touches.
  11. Ask the neighbors for help: If you’re on good terms with your neighbors, you can ask for their cooperation in keeping their dogs from barking.


Common showing mistakes

Since showings are such an important part of a buyer’s decision-making process, it’s important that you avoid common mistakes that can negatively affect how your home is perceived.

Try your best to avoid the following home showing pitfalls:

  1. Not accommodating showings: Sure, showings can be a pain to prepare for, and they can be scheduled last minute, but it’s in your best interest to be flexible with your potential buyer’s schedule whenever possible. They’re usually looking at multiple homes in a day, and they may not circle back to see your home again if it’s not available when they ask to see it.
  2. Asking buyers to take their shoes off:While it would keep your floors a bit cleaner, it’s a mistake to ask buyers to take their shoes off, as it might make them feel unwelcome. If you’re concerned about wet or muddy feet, you can leave a basket of disposable booties out. Also, make sure to have a good mat at the front door.
  3. Attending your own showing:It’s considered a faux pas for sellers to be present during showings at their home, as it can make buyers feel uncomfortable. If you’re selling your home on your own, without the help of an agent, consider using a lockbox for showings. If you’re a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) seller and you have to host the showing yourself, don’t hover. Let visitors explore your house on their own, and just be available to answer questions.
  4. Using too many candles and air fresheners:Many people dislike or are allergic to strong fragrances. And strong scents can make buyers think you’re trying to cover up bad smells. Instead of candles and air fresheners, try fresh flowers, freshly baked cookies or coffee — subtle is better.
  5. Taking feedback personally:It can be hard to hear criticism about your home, but it can be helpful. For example, if you find out a buyer said the carpets looked dirty, you can clean them before the next showing.
  6. Failing to declutter and depersonalize:A messy home makes buyers think you’re not taking good care of it, and it’s very hard for buyers to picture the house as their own if your stuff is everywhere.
  7. Removing too much:On the flip side, you don’t want to completely empty your home — there’s a reason home staging is popular. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 48% of recent buyers said that having a home staged was extremely, very or somewhat important to their purchase decision. Strategically placed furniture helps define spaces and shows buyers how they might use a particular room. And by leaving beds in bedrooms, you show buyers what type and size of furniture might fit. Finally, empty homes don’t give off a warm and welcoming vibe.


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