4 Things a Real Estate Agent Will Always Do Before an Open House

published Oct 5, 2021
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Picture this: It’s a crisp fall day and you’re out for a stroll when you see the warm glow of a house abuzz with guests, and a sidewalk sign announcing, “open house.” Is there anything more intoxicating? 

But the allure is about more than just a sign — it’s the carefully arranged interior, the glossy pamphlets, and the inviting notion that you could live here. Indeed, it takes thoughtful effort to make a home open-house ready. Whether you want to know how to prep your own place or simply want a peek behind the curtain, read on for four tips real estate agents have on what they do just before a showing. 

Direct the flow with doors.

An unfamiliar house can feel like a maze, but agents mitigate the labyrinth effect by using open and closed doors to guide visitors. “If the [primary bedroom] closet is impressive we make sure that door is open,” says Lara O’Rourke with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. “A lot of times buyers are on huge multi-home tours and they’re running through them. We want to make sure we allow them to see the specifics,” even if there’s not time to open every single closet and cabinet. Dava Davin, principal at Portside Real Estate Group, agrees: “I advise agents to assess the flow and make sure appropriate doors are closed to maximize the experience of the home.” 

One portal to ensure you’ve closed before opening the front door to potential buyers? Toilet lids. “You’d be surprised by how many open houses I’ve attended with clients [and the toilet lid is up],” says Gibson Sotheby’s broker Chelsea Robinson. “It’s not really how you want to represent a property.”

Turn on the lights and turn off the music. 

A big part of showing a home in the best light is, well, making sure the lights are on. Unless it’s an especially dim and dreary day, Davin suggests utilizing ambient lamps and natural sunlight more than overhead lighting to create a warm, diffused glow. And while cueing up some soothing music might sound like a good idea, Robinson suggests the opposite. “A lot of sellers think playing music is a good distraction if they’re close to a busy road or train track, but all it does is detract from the property. There’s nothing worse than going into an open house and having distractions.” You want them to know what the property will really look and sound like. So shut off those speakers or that noisy dehumidifier, open the blinds and let the home shine all on its own. 

Pay mind to the yard. 

Two words: curb appeal. As important as the interior may be, the exterior is the first impression, and you only get one of those. Davin says her team always makes sure to have sellers make sure the lawn is mowed, the beds are edged, and the gardens are mulched. And the backyard deserves just as much attention. “A buyer will check out the exterior no matter what the season, so if the property isn’t snow covered, I recommend highlighting the outdoor entertaining area,” Davin says. 

The impact of well-done sidewalk charm can be huge. “We had one buyer who was out for a run and he just popped into the open house because it seemed inviting,” recalls O’Rourke.
“He called that night and put an offer in without his wife even having seen it, and they’ve been there happily for 10 years.”

Smell the roses. 

“We’ve been known to bring three or four floral arrangements to an open house,” says O’Rourke. Sometimes they’ll place them in the entryway, on the kitchen island, or by the sign-in sheet, depending on the layout. Neutral flowers from a high-end florist are a natural way to give the home a sweet, fresh aroma, without introducing any polarizing candle scents. Plus, they just just look so darn pretty — the perfect last-minute touch to help the home blossom.