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Checklist for Showings and Open Houses

Once your home goes on the market, real estate agents may call to show your home anytime, day or evening. Keeping your home “showtime” ready can be challenging, especially if you have children and pets. 

Get ready for marketing your home

Declutter. It will make your life so much easier if you start by getting rid of clutter. It will be time-consuming, but well worth it. Your home will show better, you’ll have less stuff and expense when you move, and speed cleaning the house for surprise showings will go much faster. If you have a lot of stuff you want to keep, that’s fine, but you’d be better off renting a small storage unit for a month or two until your home sells. 

To make decluttering easier, go through your belongings and divide your items into Keep, Donate, and Trash sections. Skip holding a garage sale. If you itemize your tax returns, you’ll receive more in tax benefits for your donations than you will be wasting precious time, sorting, pricing, and manning a yard sale. It’s faster, more efficient and you’ll help more people. 

Keep this season’s clothes in closets.  Store out-of-season clothing, shoes, and sports equipment. 

Remove temptations: Put valuable jewelry, collectibles and personal records in a safety deposit box, a safe, or store them in a secure location. 

Remove prescription medicines: Despite qualifying by the buyer’s agent, some buyers have other intentions than buying your home. It’s also a good idea to lock your personal papers such as checkbooks away. Do not leave mail out on your desk. 

Remove breakables: Sometimes buyers bring children to showings and they can get bored and rambunctious. Figurines, china, crystal and other breakables are tempting for anyone to pick up and hold, so they should be packed and put away in a closet, garage, attic or storage.  Collectibles give your home personality, but you don’t want to lose something precious to an accident during a showing. 

Stage your home: You want your home to look like a home. Stage it to show the possibilities, perhaps set the table for a romantic dinner, or put a cozy throw on the chair by the fireplace with a bookmarked book on the table.  Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional can help you with ideas. 

Clean out the garage and attic: Buyers want to see what kind of storage is available. Since you’re selling your home, buyers expect to see moving boxes, but if you’ve moved all your clutter to the garage or attic, buyers can’t get a sense of how else these spaces might or should be used. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t park your car inside your garage, you have too much junk. Organize tools on pegboards and cover dangerous equipment such as table saws.  

Make arrangements for pets: In the listing instructions, there should be a warning if there is a big dog on premises. Buyers with allergies also may appreciate knowing in advance if you have cats, birds, reptiles or other pets. For showings and open houses, you don’t want to put unnecessary stress on your pets when they feel they must defend the house from intruders and bark or shriek their heads off. A better idea is to put pets in daycare or in their sleep cages. Put a breathable cover over the birdcage.  Take your dog with you for a trip to the park when you leave the house for a showing.  

When you have a last-minute showing 

Have a family plan of action: Sometimes showings aren’t convenient. You can always refuse a showing, but do you really want to? If you have a showing with little notice, get the family engaged. Give everyone in the household an assignment. While one person picks up glasses plates and empties the trash, another can fluff pillows and straighten tabletops and chairs. Give each person their own basket to pick up anything they’ve left lying about. 

Get in the habit: Wash dishes immediately after meals. Clean off countertops. Make beds in the morning. Wash pet toys and beds frequently so they smell fresh. 

Five-minute clean-up: Everyone gets their baskets and cleans up clutter. Check for hazards, like toys left on the floor. 

Five-minute outdoor clean-up: Make sure toys, bicycles and garden tools are put away. 

Turn on lights: Open the drapes and turn on all the lights so buyers can really see what they’re buying. 

Give the buyer privacy: Allow only buyers accompanied by their agents into your home. The buyer is more likely to look more carefully at your home if you’re not there, so arrange to be gone whenever you have a showing or an open house.