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BUYING A HOME Part Four - Ten Tips for Home Showings & Open Houses

Posted by Haley M

brass duck keychain

Thanks for joining me again! To continue from my last few posts about moving during COVID, today I wanted to share our experience with getting our house ready to list and some tips that I picked up along the way for staging, photographing, and showing your home. Click to read part 1 (Why We Decided to Move & House-Hunting Experiences), part 2 (10 House-Hunting Tips, Tricks & Lessons) and part 3 (11 Tips for Getting Your Home Ready to List) of this series if you missed them.  


Also, click to purchase the Vintage Brass Duck Pocket Knife Keychain in the photo above!


Here I'm sharing 10 Tips for Home Showings & Open Houses:


1. This one might be obvious, but don’t leave valuables lying around or even in boxes on top of dressers or inside closets. We had already moved out of our house before we put it up for sale, but if that isn’t your scenario then it couldn’t hurt to have a backpack or suitcase with your phones, tablets, cameras, mattress or freezer cash, medications, prized jewelry or other valuable possessions ready to leave with you when an agent wants to come to show the house. Or have a designated LOCKED cabinet or box for these items if you don’t want to or can’t lug them with you. For the most part agents are with people while they walk through the house (especially if someone is still currently living there), but you never know and you can never be too careful with some things. Remember that buyers will open closets, cupboards, medicine cabinets and will snoop – hide or remove personal items too!


2. If possible, it also couldn’t hurt to take your pets with you while showings are taking place as lots of random people coming in and out of the house can possibly make them nervous or scared, overly excited, or worse – allow them to escape or run away! Also, if you have furry friends in the house it’s not a bad idea to use a lint roller or something similar on the furniture that they sit on to remove pet hair and to also hide any old or dingy pet beds or scratch posts while you’re doing showings or an open house.


3. Don’t use air fresheners, candles, room sprays, incense, etc for your viewings. Our agent hates this, I hated this (there were many homes that I couldn’t even enter to see in person because they reeked of chemicals, so obviously we weren’t going to buy any of those houses), and most people who come to look at houses hate this and will always wonder what odor(s) you may be trying to cover up. Mold or mildew? Dogs? Cigarettes? Cat urine? Just keep the house clean and open the windows on occasion to let in some fresh air. If you currently use these types of products in your home, get rid of all of them. Now! The sooner you can get rid of extra scents and chemical odors the better.


4. We already had cameras installed around our home, but I definitely recommend doing this whether you’re still living on the property or not. We had a doorbell camera, a backyard camera and one in the house as well. This is actually pretty common and many of the houses that we went to look at had them set up too. We did this mainly to keep an eye on the place since we weren’t living there anymore but still owned the property, but if you do still live there the extra security while you’re not home and strangers are inside it can bring peace of mind too. On one occasion we caught our neighbor allowing her guests to park in our driveway without our permission, which might have been fine, but then we realized that their car could drip oil onto the driveway or they could fall and get hurt or something – this was after someone had put in an offer and we were still responsible for the property. You just never know! We left the doorbell camera for the new buyer but took the others with us when the house sold.


5. Other small and inexpensive tasks that you can do? Caulk all showers and bathtubs, and fill or spackle all nail holes in walls. We did both of these and it made a huge difference!


6. If you’re still living in the house while you’re trying to sell it, have an empty storage tub or large basket where you can zip through the house to pick up any random clutter for last-minute showings and then make sure that that tub or basket can fit inside a closet or somewhere discreet and not topple out of it! Large and pretty baskets can typically be found for around $20 or less at your local TJMaxx or Marshall’s. If you have children, pre-pack a bag for each of them or have older ones do it themselves with games or other activities for the car since showings and open houses can last anywhere from 20 minutes to all-day affairs, and if you can, keep them in the car so that they’ll be one less thing you have to worry about grabbing before leaving for a last-minute showing and the kids won’t get into them beforehand and ruin their novelty. If the bags are already in the car then you can just pack a bag of drinks or snacks. Have a few pre-arranged plans or ideas for places to go or activities to do that range from an hour to the entire day.


7. A few more “involved” things that you might consider: 1. Upgrade your kitchen appliances, or at least make sure that they all match each other. The safest and most universally-liked options are stainless steel or white. 2. Have some professional landscaping done, especially if there isn’t a lot to begin with. 3. Replace outdated lighting & fixtures (like the flush-mount “boob” lights for example) with something more modern. 4. Finally, take a look around – if you think that the exterior color of your house needs to be repainted in order to get it sold, then it probably does, especially if it’s something unconventional. If you know that your leaky roof/bad wiring/whatever will prevent your house from getting offers or cause an offer to fall through, then by all means – get it fixed!


8. Make sure that you do another really good cleaning of the entire house before your first day of showings or an open house. It’s a lot of work and is inconvenient to have your home show-ready at any given moment (especially if you have kids!) but remember that this is a temporary situation and will definitely pay off.


9. Lastly, listen to your real estate agent – they have done this many times before and most of them can walk through your house with you and point out or suggest things that you might want to consider as far as what things in your home might not pass a home inspection (saving you time in the future), what might be turn-offs for potential buyers, and even things that you might think you should change but might not need it after all. 


One last tip:


10. Only have a few minutes to get everyone out of the house for a last-minute showing? Enlist the help of the household if you can – lock up or grab your bag of valuables that you should already have packed and your children’s car activity bags. Pick up random clutter that you’ve got lying around and throw it in your basket or tub and stow that away, wipe down bathroom & kitchen faucets, put any food or personal care products away, and flush the toilets if necessary. If you have the time either put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or hand-wash. Make sure that you don’t have any unmentionables or dirty laundry lying around either in the bedrooms, bathrooms, or in the laundry area. You can also go through and close all cabinet and closet doors for a tidy look and/or turn on lights and lamps. Don’t forget to gather your pets and their toys or treats too!


Did I miss anything? What tips came in handy for you in order to sell your home, or what did you especially look for when you were buying? Let us know in the comments!


Much love, 



sold home photo


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