Conducting an open house is a terrific way to expose your property to many people in a short amount of time. While we will advertise and manage the event, it is up to you to make sure that your home is seen in the best light possible. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression, so approach the open house as your opportunity to showcase your property. Here are some things you can do to make sure that your home is prepared on the inside and out.

Start with the outside. Do a visual check of the front of the house from across the street. Does it have curb appeal? It should look inviting, with a trimmed lawn and flowerbed and a freshly painted front door. Polish door handles and knockers and replace worn items such as a rusty doorbell. Consider adding a new doormat and flowering plants at the entrance. Do the windows need cleaning? Are there oil stains in the driveway that need removing?

While outside, don't forget to check the side and back yards. Add some flowering plants to the back as well. Rearrange the outdoor furniture to look inviting. Put away gardening tools. Tidy around the grill area.

Now focus on the inside of the home where cleanliness, space, smell and lighting are key. First get your house in tip-top condition by cleaning and clearing away clutter. Steam clean and vacuum the carpet. Make sure your floors are waxed and shiny.

Touch up nicks on walls and make sure the porcelain sinks and tubs and metallic fixtures shine. Your kitchen and bathrooms should pass the white glove test. Be conscious of any lingering odors such as smoke, pets or strong-smelling foods. You may need to air out your home prior to the open house. Consider grinding fresh lemons in the garbage disposal. And don't forget to empty out all the trash.

Look at your countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms and the tops of your bureaus. Do they seem cluttered? Clear away and store as much as possible. You want your home to seem spacious.

Next, set the mood. You want buyers to be able to picture your home as their own. You may want to rearrange the furniture so that rooms look more spacious. Add accessories from rooms with too many furnishings to those that are bare.  

Lighting is also important to creating an atmosphere. Bright lights provide a cheerful environment and make a small space appear larger. Pull back all the drapes and open the blinds. Turn on all the lights. Make sure all the light sockets have working bulbs and install the maximum-wattage bulb that is safe for that fixture. For rooms that you want to have a warm, cozy feeling, use softer lights.  

Don't forget little touches such as fresh flowers, lit candles in the bathrooms, new logs in the fireplace, or a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. You may even want to set your dining room table with color-coordinated table settings.

Buying a home appeals to the emotions. Sellers shouldn't rely on buyers to use their imagination; they need to capture it. Remember that buyers may see seven or eight homes in a single day. The most memorable home will be the one that seemed the brightest, the most spacious and the most cheerful.

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