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Every weekend, all across the Tri-Cities, homeowners and their agents host open houses to showcase some of the great homes for sale around our area.

Open houses rarely lead directly to a sale of the home; they’re much better for helping the real estate agent meet new buyer clients. There’s some data to back this up. According to the 2023 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 50% of recent home buyers said they attended an open house, but only 4% found the home they bought via “yard sign or open house sign.” That’s an odd wording on the survey, but you get the point. Whether or not it leads to a sale, an open house can still be a good way to get feedback on your home from agents and potential buyers.

If you’re going to have your agent host an open house, there are some important things to get right long before the front door opens.

In the big picture, you have two goals with an open house: First, to create a great first impression. And second, to make it so visitors can see themselves living there.

Here are nine ways you can make that happen at your next open house.

9 Things to Do Before Your Next Open House

1. Lock up your valuables

The Tri-Cities regularly appears in various lists of the safest towns in Washington. But that doesn’t mean you can be careless with your jewelry, cash, and other valuables. I remember about 15 years ago or so, Kennewick police arrested a man who had been visiting local open houses and stealing prescription drugs he found inside. Be sure to lock away all your mail, important papers and documents, cash and jewelry — and yes, your prescription drugs, too.

2. Put away your personal treasures, too

This isn’t so much about safety, but more about making your home more appealing as buyers walk through it. The secret to selling a home is to make it easy for buyers to envision themselves living in the home. (That’s why we offer free staging to pretty much all of our seller clients!) As people are walking through your open house, if they see photos of your parents, grandparents, or your grandkids, it looks like your house and becomes hard for them to imagine as their house. So put away all your personal effects.

A clean and decluttered living room

3. Get rid of the clutter, too

Want to make your house look bigger and more livable? Get rid of any unneeded furniture. Make it easy for your attendees to walk around comfortably without having to twist their bodies or step over an unnecessary ottoman or extra chair. This will also help your home feel like it has a natural flow as people easily move from room to room.

4. Take care of small repairs

Leaky faucets, loose doorknobs, and other small things like those can turn off buyers. Get them fixed before the open house.

5. Clean, clean, clean

A spotless house is a house that buyers can see themselves living in. Give it a deep cleaning before your open house. Be sure to check the often overlooked spots like the tops of cabinets and fan blades. Make sure all the stuff you’ve crammed under your bed isn’t visible when they walk in the bedroom.

6. Make it smell good

I’m not a big proponent of doing the fresh-baked cookies trick to cover up odors — that’s up to you and your agent! But definitely make sure the home smells good. A subtle air freshener might work. Or just open the windows if need be. If you have pets, trust your agent’s judgment. You’ve probably become desensitized to their smell, but your agent will know if you need to do something to control their smells.

living room with the blinds open to create an open, welcoming ambience

7. Create a welcoming ambience

Open all the blinds and curtains in your home and turn on the lights — even during the day! That helps make your home feel bright and open. Set the home to 72 degrees or so for everyone’s comfort. If you have a nice stereo or audio system, you can put on some light, instrumental music. Maybe offer a pitcher of ice water and some glasses for a nice touch. Take your agent’s advice in this area; they’ll know what works best for making your home feel welcoming to visitors.

8. Take care of curb appeal

First impressions are really important, and the first thing visitors will see at your open house is the front yard and front of the home. Mow the lawn and trim any over-grown bushes. Wash the windows around the whole home, but especially those at or near the front entryway. Speaking of which, make that entryway as inviting as possible — think fresh, colorful plants and flowers. If you have outdoor lamps near your front door, brush away any cobwebs and dust. And consider buying a new welcome mat for the front door — it’s really inexpensive and can make a good impression.

9. Take off (and take your pets with you)

You shouldn’t be at home during your open house. Take your pets with you, too, if you can. They can be unpredictable and not everyone is comfortable around animals. If you can’t take them with you, secure them outside or in the garage — somewhere safe and comfortable for them that’s away from where the visitor traffic will be.

Final Thoughts

Open houses are not usually how you’ll sell your home, but they still can have a place in the marketing of your home. Some of our seller clients love having an open house, while others don’t like them at all. Most don’t mind one way or another. We always like to respect our clients’ wishes, however they feel.

If your agent is going to host an open house, you can make their job a bit easier — and improve the chances of it being successful — by getting the home ready inside and out. Talk to your agent about the suggestions above and follow their lead to make sure your home creates a good first impression with everyone who attends your open house!

If you’re planning to sell your Tri-Cities home, here’s what the Cari McGee Real Estate Team does for our seller clients. If you don’t already have an agent, we’d love to help get your home sold. Drop us a note anytime, or just use the Text Us button below and we’ll reply back as quickly as we can.

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Cari McGee

Hi, I'm Cari McGee. 👋 I've lived in the Tri-Cities since 1994 and I've been a licensed Realtor® since 2004. That's a lot of local knowledge and real estate experience that I put into every article you read on my website! We've helped more than 560 families buy or sell property in the Tri-Cities. In 2023, our community voted us the bronze winner for Best Real Estate Team in the Tri-Cities Best voting. Learn more about me by clicking the link right above. And if you have any questions, get in touch anytime!

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