How to prepare for an open house

Apologies, Oxford dictionary. Open house: a grandiose, impromptu blind date kind of party thrown exclusively for absolute and (most likely) forever strangers. Daunting? – An understatement. An open house is not of organic fabric; at its core, it is awkward, at times shy, potentially unpleasant, objectively unnatural (in social terms), and – exquisitely stressful. The seller is to embrace steep expectations with a warm, welcoming smile. Basically, you’re voluntarily inviting anonymous judges to scrutinize your aesthetic approach, your familial dynamic, your sentimental values, and most importantly – your sense of responsibility. We have all had our fair share of wild card guests over the years or decades of hosting – but none could ever compare to an open house invitee. Before we open our doors to potential buyers, we must ensure perfection. No detail is too small, from the best home warranty programs to glitter. This is how to prepare for an open house.

Back then vs. now

Not that long ago, the open house concept was a completely different story. Some would even say – wild. The beds would remain unmade, a plate or a bowl or two from breakfast cereal or perhaps cinnamon-glazed pancakes was an endearing sighting, and a lonesome, often curly, black hair would rest upon the bathroom sink without a shred of guilt or shame. And people would sigh with delight and say: “Where do we sign? This is the place to be. This is home.” – Evidence of terrestrial life is what made the buyers tick. Approved with nods and, who knows, maybe well-disguised giggles. Someone was living there; it was someone’s house. Home. And they obviously enjoyed every second of it.

Today, we strive for vacuum-like perfection. Nothing less. If you’re selling your home, be warned: preparation is everything.

big house with perfectly mowed lawn on a sunny day
To prepare for an open house, bribe a bird choir. Mow the lawn. Dry clean everything.

Preparation hour

And by “hour,” we mean – probably months. There are no all-nighter shortcuts. Selling your home is serious business (although it can be portrayed in a humorous manner) – and you better get it right. So, how does one bulletproof the notoriously emotional transaction?  Let’s see.

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Open house timeline 101

“There’s time. It’s too early.” – Rookie mistake: classic. When you’re moving house, there’s no such thing as “too early” or “in a timely manner.” Relocation is infamously recognized as a “time warp” zone: the standard units of measurement simply do not apply. Tried and tested. Just ask the millions of subscribers across the globe; most of them failed to keep their cool. And without extensive preparation, so will you. Hence, the timeline. Let’s do the homework before it gets unpleasantly dark, shall we?

Tick-tock, open house


  1. 1+ months
  2. 3-4 weeks
  3. 1 week
  4. one day
  5. hours (not a Mrs. Dalloway reference)

1+ months

  • Scrutinize the place; now is the time to use a home warranty for roof coverage or basement leaks. Fear no answers. Identifying issues prior to the open house is essential. No surprises. What is your home worth? Only one way to find out.
  • Purge! “Thou shall not pass!” – Downsizing hour. – But, my patio furniture. – Find a storage unit. Some things can be saved. And should. Downsizing, sorting, packing. All that jazz. The hardest bit.
  • Grooming. Every detail counts. The best way to go about it? Fresh paint. Rejuvenate your exterior/interior space by adding a fresh, welcoming coat of paint. Buyers like patina, but they prefer “starting fresh”.
  • New lap. Re-evaluation. Any remaining oddballs? “What’s wrong with this picture?” Eliminate the obstacle.

3-4 weeks

  • Pick the fated open house date. And time. Crunch the numbers, and think it through. Let your to-do list guide the timeline. You’re not in a rush. Be meticulous, and take everything into consideration before locking the event.
  • Time to market the house. Not particularly tech-savvy? Call your niece. Or that benevolent-looking neighbor you once invited to a barbecue. Online marketing is key.
  • Footwork. Old school. Flyers are by no means passé. Let your community know that you’re selling. And don’t forget to send out open house invitations. Every effort counts. All channels of communication must be utilized.
person holding pen and tablet next to coffee mug depicts how to prepare for an open house
Think it through.

1 week

Choo-choo, the train is approaching the station. What’s next?

  • Show the exterior some TLC. Tend to your garden, backyard, or balcony. Mow the lawn, water your beautiful plants, and surely – bribe the bird choir. (and throw in a squirrel or two) Picturesque. That’s the way.
  • Depersonalize. This one usually pulls at the hard strings like a savage. All the same, it has to be done. Personalized details can easily turn off a buyer.
  • The last ones standing: now would be the perfect time to put away the rest of your valuables, collectibles, heirlooms, what have you. Everything must go.
  • Call in the cavalry! Deep clean. Scrubs. Goggles. After you’ve attained the desired glow, create a plan so as to keep the house spotless.

One day

As the boys from the band “Europe” would say: “It’s the final countdown!”  – Without the “turururu” part. We keep things serious around here. Now, to prepare for an open house a day prior:

  • Flare those nostrils. Or ask your “Nose” friend to accompany you. Are there any hints of unpleasant notes in the air? Make sure the odors are taken care of before the grand opening.
  • Give the interior another go. Dust, mop, vacuum. Leave the house in pristine condition.


Finish line touch-ups.

  • If it’s a rainy day – bad luck. The house needs to “breathe.” Fresh air is inviting to potential buyers. Stale – not as enthralling.
  • If there’s any clutter – stash it away. Gently, inconspicuously. If you’re starving, resist the urge to eat inside the house. Have a snack in the yard. A napkin can come in handy.
  • Lighting is paramount; it sets the mood and dictates the mise-en-scène. True, electricity does not come cheap these days. However, you’re trying to sell. So, be a good host.
  • No pets allowed: buyers associate animals with low hygiene. We know your puppy is adorable but call the nanny.
  • Each room should be double-checked. Just in case. You never know.
  • Don’t forget to take out the trash. And when you do, DO NOT forget to hide the bins. Who’s selling the house? Private sector raccoons?
  • Finally, it’s time to tag the house. Put out the signs and let the conquest begin.
person in black coat holding "for sale" sign
Action time.

Now, in detail

The list is long; you are our witness. Preparing for an open house is, indeed, time-consuming. (especially if you’re simultaneously planning a long-distance move) But is it all just work and no play? – It doesn’t have to be. If we just slightly alter what Eleanor Roosevelt once famously stated:” Life is what you make of it., and change it to “Open house experience is what you make of it.” More convincing? Sold? – Terrific.

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Potential home buyers are not your regular Joes, no; they are razor-sharp, eagle-eyed investigators, packing a lie detector underneath that benevolent-looking Merino wool coat. They are visiting your home for scrutiny purposes. Why? Because homes aren’t cheap. In fact, for most of us, buying a property is the riskiest, biggest investment one can possibly make. So they tread with absolute caution. And they want to know exactly what they are buying. So, indeed, repairs are mandatory. Those who have purchased a home warranty policy have less to worry about, as it can be used for repairing plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, as well as large home appliances. Bonus news – you can even transfer your home warranty when moving.

Cosmetic touch-ups

Get rid of the uninviting eyesores. Even the smallest detail can impact a buyer’s final decision. Yay or nay? Patching that inconspicuous hole in the living room wall, adding caulking in the bathroom, or something as seemingly irrelevant, such as replacing the light bulbs, can add tremendous instant value.

Curb appeal

If the windows are the eyes of the house, then our driveway must be the eyelashes. And who likes a pair of rundown, thin eyelashes? – A soul or two, but they’re probably not interested in buying your home. We want lush; we want that curb appeal. We want a coherent, picture-perfect setting. Fix the driveway and walkway if needed, get new window screens, repair gutters, and clean everything thoroughly.

Paint time

A fresh coat of paint is a good Samaritan. Firstly, paint is inexpensive. It’s affordable, and painting is easy. And fun. Adding that extra layer throughout the home (exterior and interior) can get you that offer you’ve been waiting for. Just a heads up: if you’re more on the “eccentric” side of the color spectrum, please, tone it down. Buyers love neutral colors. White canvas sort of thing. So, keep it simple. Safe bet.

man in beige shorts and white shirt painting house exterior depicts how you should prepare for an open house
It can be fun. We promise.


The way you tend to your outdoor space tells the buyer everything about your “responsible” and “nurturing” side. Is it exotic? – Great! Is it “Predator, 1987, HQ”?- Not so great. Keep it neat. Prune overgrown landscaping, mow the lawn, and get the blades of grass sing in unison.

Staging sells

So, how does one prepare for an open house? Balance is key. We want the house to be noninvasive in its appearance, neutral but not faceless. Depersonalizing and decluttering your home prior to an open house is desirable, but don’t overdo it. The last thing potential buyers want is to enter a tangible echo. Empty homes, no matter how spacious and breathable, do not give off that inviting, homey vibe. You want the buyer to be able to imagine warm, cozy nights by the fireplace with their special someone and visualize their kids screaming for ice cream after bathtime. You know, the little things that make a home – home. How do you achieve this? – By staging.

Decor and furniture

Ideally, you’d want high-quality furniture to elevate the appeal game. Sales may not be in your nature, but that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re selling. And you need buyers. Attractive furniture pieces and some HQ decor speak to buyers. If the wallet allows, we suggest renting furniture. If not, there are always ways. Just like we can DIY home security, we can certainly DIY stage our house for buyers. Call some friends, and have them over. Tell them not to come without that midcentury vase. Or chair. You’ll manage. Staging is a powerful tool in real estate.  It just works. Be sure to focus on your living room, as it’s considered THE focal point. Again, if the wallet allows, hire a professional designer to do the heavy work for you.

bright and neutral living room
Every single detail matters.

Bulletproof your listing

Once you’ve repaired every hole, trimmed every bush, and cleaned every corner – it’s time to step into the virtual arena; the real estate shark pool. One mustn’t come unprepared. A bulletproof online listing is the most potent way to get as many potential buyers as possible for your open house day. You can achieve this by using technology to your advantage.

  • drone material: nothing beats a birds-eye view. Drones are affordable, and you probably already have a “drone guy.” We all do. So, use it. Capture photos and videos of your house and give the buyers a rare opportunity to view the property from every angle imaginable. Be sure to include the surrounding neighborhood.
  • virtual tour: you want your listing to stand out. What better way to do it than to flaunt your tech-savvy gifts? All you really need is a good phone.


How do you prepare for an open house day? Create a welcoming atmosphere. An open house is like a handshake with a stranger. And we all know the lukewarm types. – Never a good impression. Do:

  • turn on ALL light fixtures (daytime included)
  • make sure the temperature is just right
  • remember to open the blinds and curtains
  • play some music; soothing, soft kind
  • make sure to put out some fresh towels
  • fruit bowls are always a plus
  • use an air freshener, but don’t overdo it

Check out the deals from the top rated home warranty companies today!

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If you haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for, worry not. You can find all the answers right here at the Consumer Opinion Guide. We got you. Our all-knowing experts have all the information a human being could ever need on how to prepare for an open house. – True story.

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