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    Top 5 DON'TS for an Open House

    You’ve done the research, planned and prepped, and you're ready to sell your home. Now, it's time to hold your first open house, but your learning isn’t over yet! 

    Scheduling an open house is part of a successful home selling strategy, but there’s much to brush up on before holding the doors wide open to home buyers. Specifically, here’s a list of the Top 5 Don’ts that can make or break a sale. Take a look.

    Top 5 Don'ts for an Open House

    5 Donts for an Open House


    1) Don’t Forget that People Buy Based on Emotion.

    Ask any branding expert, and they’ll tell you people buy products based on emotions. The last thing you want is for prospective buyers to associate your home with unattractive sights, sounds, or smells. 

    Although a clean, fresh bathroom is ideal for an open house, overpowering bleach fumes are a sure turn-off, especially if the buyer connects the smell with a negative memory or interaction. It's safer to use soft citrus or lavender scents. 

    In the kitchen, freshly baked cookies and bread directly from the oven are classic staging tips that keep buyers lingering in the home. Remember, the longer buyers roam, the more details they’ll keep in mind for later.

    A dark, cluttered house evokes feelings of dirtiness and claustrophobia, regardless of the large amount of square footage. Turning on lights and and opening window coverings ushers light and spaciousness to the forefront and increases the buyer interest of the entire property. 

    It's common home selling knowledge to keep your dog out of the picture during an open house event. This includes relegating him to the yard or laundry room. The barking and whimpering agitates buyers, either because of concern for their safety or because they are put off by the fact a pet lived in the home. Both scenarios induce negative emotions. Plan in advance for kids and pets to be away during showings.

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    2) Don’t Ignore the Power of Marketing. 

    The importance of an open house shouldn’t be underestimated, but an open house should not be the only tool in your home marketing tool box; it's only one element of a well crafted marketing campaign to convince buyers your home provides the most value and meets their needs. 

    Related post: The Best Do's and Don’ts for Your Home Listing

    Because you’re investing your own time and money into the marketing, deciding which methods are most beneficial is one of the first steps for maximizing not only your dollar budget, but time constraints. Here’s what the National Association of Realtors reported in 2019 about how buyers go about their home shopping.

    Of all buyers, 44% said the first step they took to find a home was to search online. 

    Of those buyers: 

    • 93% searched an online website
    • 86% used a real estate agent
    • 73% searched on their mobile devices
    • 53% attended an open house 
    • 46% saw a yard sign

    Although yard and street signs rank lower on the list of search techniques, buyers are positioned to find your property in two ways: they may attend the scheduled open house, or the signs will signal them to connect with their agent to schedule a private showing.

    3) Don’t Expect to Sell Your Home in One Day.

    Keep in mind, just because you’re hosting an open house doesn’t mean that you’ll sell your home by the end of the day. There are several variables required to produce a quick sale: accurate pricing, intense marketing, and a lucky stroke of timing. 

    You might receive an attractive offer immediately after the open house, but it’s unlikely that the prospective buyer has the necessary documentation confirming they are a qualified, pre-approved buyer with the ability to acquire a mortgage. Some buyers might even be confused by a pre-qualification letter vs. a pre-approval authorization. 

    Questions about qualifications? Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What It Means and Why It Matters offers answers.

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    4) Don’t Leave Valuables and Personal Items Exposed. 

    Although your open house guests may be your near and far neighbors, you truly don’t know who’s touring your property, especially if crowd momentum picks up and you become distracted. Chances are, they are interested, eager, qualified buyers with pre-approved documentation in hand, but you need to be prepared for those who aren’t.

    Criminals view an open house as an invitation to scope out a property for a large ticket item, with intentions to return when the home is unoccupied, while others commit crimes of opportunity. They’ll swipe prescription drugs and jewelry, phones, and other electronics if they are left unattended.

    5) Don’t Overlook the Importance of the Front Door.

    The exterior of your home must be inviting and have strong curb appeal. Long before the open house, you cleared and cleaned the yard and exterior materials of your home. 

    Days before the event, tidy these areas again and add personal touches. You can easily boost how welcoming your door appears by adding a wreath, a potted plant, and a cheery doormat. A charming front door paint color guarantees interest in the interior of the home. 

    If you’re expecting a military relocation, use 4 Landscaping Ideas for Instant Curb Appeal to help prepare for an open house. 

    A couple of balloons tied to your mailbox helps prospective buyers feel comfortable with approaching your home; the balloons say that yes, this is an event, and you are welcome! 

    Consider this; you might want to show yourself the front door. A seller who is present for an open house often makes buyers uncomfortable. They want to explore, test windows, peek in closets, and ask questions; they won’t engage if a homeowner is hovering. Choose to use a real estate agent or a trusted friend to host for you.

    Although you might feel like there’s plenty of time to prepare for your open house, the peak selling season is quickly approaching. Prepare early and don’t ignore these 5 pieces of advice for planning your first open house. 

    Need more tips for your open house? 

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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