Is the Dog Poop Included?

You’ve made the decision to sell your house and now need to decide if you want to hold an open house. Some say the open house is more for the agent than the seller as it introduces the agent to new potential buyers. It’s true, I’ve met new clients at open houses and have gone on to assist them with a home purchase but I’ve also sold houses to people who saw the open house sign in front of my listing and written offers.  Yes, it’s an opportunity for the nosy neighbours to snoop but it also provides an opportunity for serious buyers to look at the home in a relaxed environment. In my opinion they are generally worthwhile and I recommend you hold consecutive opens on the first two weekends that the house is active. It is, however,  entirely up to you as the seller if you want to go through the process.

Let’s assume that you are willing to go through the process – what are the important things to remember when preparing your home for the open ? Most people understand  the house should be clean and clutter free. They also know to rid the house of any smells that may be a turn-off to buyers (no fish fries the night before). Some sellers may may even be savvy enough to understand that de-personalizing the house is a good idea. But what are some common errors that are perhaps not so obvious ?

Sellers sometimes forget that serious buyers will take a good long look at both the interior and the exterior of your home. They’ll look in the garden, inside the tool shed and stroll across the lawn. Be certain that the grass is freshly mowed and the garden has been weeded and raked and, please, please get rid of all the dog poop. There’s no bigger turn off to buyers than a lawn filled with Fido’s land mines. The mere sight of it may be enough to end any interest but if they step in it well…forget it.  Also make sure that you take your dog with you on open house day.

I’ve seen owners who stay during the open house in an effort to “assist” the agent in the sales process. This is almost never a good idea as it becomes very awkward very quickly for most potential buyers. Unless your agent specifically requests that you stay please leave.

Ensure that every part of your home is available during the open house. Serious buyers will stay for a long time and will likely  look at every room more than once.  If you have a tenant that doesn’t want to leave, you may need to provide a small rent deduction for a week or two but make sure that he or she is gone.

Finally, ensure that your listing agent hosts your open house. Sometimes listing agents will ask other agents to host on their behalf. This seems a strange practice to me as most of the time these agents have never been to your house and know very little about it.  When clients come through and ask questions that the agent can’t answer they will often move on.