How to Prepare the Home for the Open House - From A New Perspective

Home Inspector with US Inspect

We all know that problems with larger items or systems like roofs, or basements can become issues when selling a home. But often—it is not the“big” things—but many smaller items “all added-up” that can cost or slow down a sale.

Luckily, making some smart choices and small repairs prior to the open house can cost very little, but make a big difference. Here are some ideas—beyond the basics—to help prepare the home for the open house (and, incidentally, the home inspection that will soon follow when all your hard work pays off!).

This checklist is a unique guide for home sellers and their agents about ways to prepare the home for the open house from a home inspection perspective. It can help eliminate red flags and address some commonly overlooked areas of the home, that could otherwise show up later in home inspection reports and at negotiation tables.

How to prepare the home for the open houseMake Sure It’s Accessible

  • All exterior doors should be accessible. Just because the secondary entrance is not currently in use, doesn’t mean that others won’t want to check it out.
  • All interior areas should be accessible. Don’t lock the dog in a spare room or otherwise reduce access to the features in the home for buyers and inspectors.
  • The crawl space access should be clear.
  • Make sure the A/C unit is uncovered and de-winterized.
  • Remove anything blocking the Electrical Panel. It needs to be accessible to the inspector later.
  • Remove excess belongings from utility rooms used for storage.
  • Make sure the attic is accessible and the stairs can be pulled down without endangering belongings or people below.
  • Remove excess personal belongings from closets, so they are clear for buyers and inspectors.

Make Sure It’s On

  • Make sure the sprinkler system is turned on.
  • Make sure the A/C System is on, as seasonally applicable.
  • All utilities should be on (Electricity, Gas, Water and all Pilots lights).

Make Sure It Works

  • All door locks should be operable.
  • Doors should also open and close properly, and with ease.
  • Make sure smoke detectors are working and have fresh batteries.
  • Make sure CO detectors are installed and have fresh batteries.
  • Make sure appliances are working: dishwasher, oven, microwave, and garbage disposal.
  • Replace any burned-out light bulbs. You don’t want to leave any questions about the integrity of the electrical system.

Make Some Necessary Repairs

  • Repair Leaks, drips, or water stains. If there is water anywhere where it shouldn't be, it's time to take care of it and repair the damage it left behind.
  • Make sure all light switches operate properly, eliminating any “mystery switches” that could give buyers doubts about the quality of the electrical system.
  • Eliminate anything that wiggles, shakes or teeters. While homeowners may know where to grab the basement handrail so it doesn't wobble, buyers won't and inspectors will be sure to list the item in the report.
  • If you have any water penetration issues, in a basement for example, it's better to address it now, rather than later.

Complete A Few Chores

  • Remove debris from gutters/downspouts.
  • Trim shrubs away from the foundation and away from A/C Condenser Unit.
  • Remove wood, debris or stored items away from the foundation.
  • Clear debris from under the refrigerator.
  • Remove debris from shower drains.
  • Clear the clutter.
  • Dryer vents should be cleaned/cleared.
  • Remove “creative wiring” such as extension cords used in attic, interior and exterior spaces. 
  • Install a clean heating/A/C filter.
  • Consider having the A/C unit cleaned and serviced especially if it’s been a while.
  • Consider having the fireplace and chimney cleaned.

When There Are Pets

  • It’s best that pets are removed from the premises when possible. Also keep in mind that buyers (and inspectors on inspection day) need access to the entire home, so the garage and the backyard are not a great idea.
  • Repair pet damage. Scratched or urine-soaked wood floor, wood trim, walls, or carpet should be repaired or replaced.

When There Are Children/Babies

  • Consider propping baby gates open so that walking through the home is easy.
  • Reduce toy clutter if possible.

Check out this blog post as a handout in our Agent Resource Center.

Posted by: Chrissy Doremus, U.S. Inspect Blog


Re-Blogged 9 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ritu Desai 05/04/2011 07:36 AM
  2. Julia Maher 05/04/2011 01:15 PM
  3. Kathy Streib 05/04/2011 02:36 PM
  4. Maureen McCabe 05/05/2011 01:20 AM
  5. Cheryl Ritchie 05/05/2011 01:30 AM
  6. Gabe Sanders 05/09/2011 12:07 AM
  7. Jason McDowell 05/09/2011 07:36 AM
  8. Ed Silva 05/10/2011 03:44 AM
  9. Ellie McIntire 05/11/2011 01:07 AM
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Brad Rachielles
CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453 - Upland, CA

We all see these things.... but we don't all always write them down. Thank you.

May 04, 2011 03:53 PM #14
Terkel Sørensen
Real Estate Places - Temecula, CA
Realtor, 951.805.0773 , Bank owned and Short Sales

Great list Chrissy - now if you ever want to show off your co-writer... I saw someone's hand in that picture... :-)

May 04, 2011 04:31 PM #15
Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

Chrissy, a pretty extensive list you have there.....Will certainly use it in the future..tks for sharing.

May 04, 2011 07:14 PM #16
James Sanson - Ranked in the TOP 1% of Arizona
Keller Williams Realty Phoenix - Maricopa, AZ
Homes for sale in Maricopa AZ

I hope to see more and more open houses. They actually work if you do them 40 hours a week.

May 04, 2011 08:29 PM #17
Peter Schattenfield
Turning Point Estate Services LLC - Wilton, CT
Estate Dissolution and Preparation (203)388-8092 CT.

Chrissy, This is a very good list. The 'smaller" thing are too often overlooked and indeed make a huge difference. Both from a $dollars$ spent to value received and also the overallimpression of a home.

May 04, 2011 11:10 PM #18
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
This is a good reblog for the day. Thanks for the well done tips.
May 05, 2011 12:47 AM #19
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Chrissy, this is a great list, for selling a home, not just for an Open House, Very thorough in making the presentation of a property most effective.

May 05, 2011 01:09 AM #20
Margie Kopp Sorrell
Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country - Greensboro, GA
Lake Oconee Real Estate

Chrissy-we've got area open home this morning and now I'll be checking each and every one for these suggestions.

May 05, 2011 01:26 AM #21
Ken and Leslye Huebsch
3x Individual Agent of the Year, Luxury Homes, First-Time Buyers, Residential Resales, New Construction - Harrisburg, PA
Realtors - Harrisburg Homes for Sale 717.514.1793

Chrissy, Well thought-out. great idea for a post. This is one of those examples that Steven talks about for blogs: look in your old emails! I've written (and re-written) this so many times!

May 05, 2011 01:36 AM #22
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

If you go by the mantra to make your listed home look like a showhome you are genrally in a good place. Which is difficult for most people to accomplish but well worth it if you can sell quickly and for a good price. 

May 05, 2011 02:29 AM #23
Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

This is a good to do list. Don't be sloppy, make sure everything is just right!

May 05, 2011 02:39 AM #24
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential Property Inspections

Thanks everyone! Don't forget to pop over to our Agent Resource Center if you want a hard copy of this one or to download it to use elsewhere.

May 05, 2011 02:50 AM #25
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Chrissy, every good information and a good check list to take care of those little things. Thanks.

May 05, 2011 03:03 AM #26
Eileen Hsu
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

A to do list like this is often overlooked and as you mentioned it can make a world of difference because these subtle changes can build up and give the new buyers such a better impression of the property when they first visit.

May 05, 2011 03:12 AM #27
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

That is a great list. Make is as top notch as possible so that you don't give the buyer any reason not to put in an offer.

May 05, 2011 06:16 AM #28
Adam Mallory
eBroker Real Estate 619-566-ADAM - San Diego, CA
Broker, ABR, e-Pro

Excellent list!  Now if we can just get Sellers to follow it word-for-word!

May 05, 2011 09:51 AM #29
Valerie Baker
Exit Real Estate Professionals - Spokane, WA
Spokane Realtor

Thanks for the very thorough list, Chrissy!  Most of these things should be done even if you aren't selling!

May 05, 2011 02:09 PM #30
Kay Van Kampen
RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions - Springfield, MO
Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate

Chrissy, this is a wonderful list whether selling or doing an open house.  I think it's a better list that what I hand out.  Hope you don't mind me adding to mine.

May 10, 2011 02:08 PM #31
Chrissy Doremus ~ US Inspect ~
US Inspect - Chantilly, VA
Residential Property Inspections

Kay--by all means, do! And to make it easier, I'd use this link:

From that page in my resource center you can customize this info in flyer version with your logo and name as use however you like.

May 11, 2011 12:41 AM #32
William (Bill) Zoller
U.S. Inspect, LLC - Loveland, CO

As a former Insurance Property Adjuster for a well known insurance company, I investigated a house fire once, with considerable damage, from a buildup of animal hair debris at the underside of the refrigerator.  The refrigerator electrical ignition sparked the debris and a fire was unleashed.  As expected, the family was not at home at the time.

As a home inspector, I frequently find this area being neglected.  It's so simple to maintain, yet not often attended to.

May 11, 2011 06:10 AM #33
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