Showing Your Home

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

The exterior of your home often determines how buyers will view the interior, so:

  • Make sure your front entrance is clean and inviting.
  • Paint or replace your front door if it's faded or worn.
  • Add some paint to shutters, trim, and other outside features showing signs of wear.
  • Add vibrant plants and put down some fresh mulch.

Accentuate the Positive

"How we live in a home and how we sell a home are often two different things." Try to see your home with a fresh perspective and arrange each room to bring out its best attributes, including:

  • Keep windows and floors clean.
  • Have the house professionally cleaned.
  • Repair worn woodwork.
  • Repaint scarred or dirty walls in a neutral color.
  • Correct, clean, and replace damaged and worn flooring with what matches.
  • Repair loose knobs, sticking doors and windows, warped cabinet drawers, broken light switches, and other minor flaws.
  • Check and repair caulking in bathtubs and showers.
  • Open draperies and curtains to let the light in during the showing.
  • Remove all unnecessary clutter from your attic, basement, and closets to better display spacious rooms (consider storage or a garage sale to dispose of extraneous items).
  • Arrange all your rooms neatly and remove excess furniture. Keep fresh, newer, and clean towels in the bathroom. Use candles or air fresheners to make the room smell pleasant. Choose edible aromas rather than florals due to allergy-sensitive buyers.

Your Home in the Best Possible Light

Strategically lighting your home, even during daytime showings, can create a cozy mood and highlight positive attributes of each room, so:

  • Avoid overhead lighting that makes rooms look washed out and lifeless.
  • Replace any necessary lightbulbs to avoid seeming like a broken light fixture or an electrical disfunction.
  • Be creative and arrange lamps to help smaller rooms seem more significant and larger rooms seem more intimate.
  • Use lighting to highlight your home's "living areas," such as a pair of chairs near a fireplace or a table in a breakfast area.

Some Inside Mentionables

  • Clear all unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house. Keep decorative objects on the furniture restricted to groups of 1, 3, or 5 items.
  • Clear all unnecessary objects from the kitchen countertops. If it hasn't been used for three months… put it away!
  • Clear refrigerator fronts of messages, pictures, etc. (A sparse kitchen helps buyers mentally move their things into your kitchen.)
  • Remove any unnecessary items from countertops, tubs, shower stalls, and commode tops in the bathrooms. Keep only your most needed cosmetics, brushes, perfumes, etc., in one small group on the counter—Coordinate towels to one or two colors only.
  • Rearrange or remove some of the furniture if necessary. As owners, many times we have too much furniture in a room. The bigger the floor space, wall space, and counter space, the bigger things will appear.
  • Take down or rearrange certain pictures or objects on walls. Patch and paint if necessary.
  • Review the house inside room by room. Paint any room needing paint, clean carpets or drapes that need it, and clean windows.
  • Leave on certain lights during the day. During "showings," turn on all lights and lamps.
  • Have upbeat music playing of some sort during the day for all viewings.
  • Lockbox #1 Importance: "If we don't have it, they won't show it."

Some Outside Mentionables

  • Trim landscaping to reveal architectural detail (bottom of windows, etc.). "If they can't see it, we can't sell it."
  • Go around the house's perimeter and move all garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, extra building materials, etc., into the garage.
  • Check gutters and roof for dry rot. Make sure they are swept and cleaned.
  • Look at all plants… trim bushes, remove weeds, and prune trees. Keep landscape from blocking windows and touching the house.
  • Weed and then mulch all landscape areas. Keep lawn freshly cut and fertilized. Remove any dead plants or shrubs.
  • Clear patios, stoops, and decks of all the extras. Remember here; less is more.
  • Check the paint condition of the house, especially the front door and trim. "A fabulous curb appeal makes a difference."

Just in General

Try to look at your house "through the buyer's eyes" as though you've never seen it or been there before. Any time or money spent on these items will bring you back more money and hopefully a faster sale.

The 10-Minute Drill for Showings in a Panic

Occasionally, you will receive a call to schedule a showing within the next few minutes. The following is a checklist for this type of situation. The more accessible the house is, the quicker it will sell.

  1. Sound: Turn on the TV Music Channel or some music throughout the house. My go-to is usually something upbeat and jazz.
  2. Sight: Turn on every light in the house (day or night), open every drape, and blind (daytime only).
  3. Odors: Warm some apple cider with cinnamon sticks in a pan on the stove on low heat.
  4. Kitchen: Wipe kitchen counters, place dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and only leave crisp linens.
  5. Bathrooms: Wipe counters, flush and close the toilet lid, and only leave crisp linens.
  6. Living/Family Rooms: Hide magazines, stash newspapers, put away games, and remove clutter.
  7. Bedrooms: Straighten beds and pillows. Hide clutter under the beds, not in the closets.
  8. Exterior: Put away any toys and excess clutter. Keep the walkway clear.
  9. Children & Pets: They are a distraction, so send them outside.
  10. Goodbye: This is the most important thing you can do in a showing to help sell your home! Even if the showing agent insists that it is okay to stay, you must leave. Buyers must get emotionally committed to your home to buy it, and they cannot become emotional about "their new home" if you, the current owners, are "hanging around." Please, at the very least, go into the backyard. Even better, go to the store.