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How to Prepare Your House for an Open House Inspection

By Carol Birrell

Property prices continue to rise in the Australian property market, but despite government measures to address the issue of affordability, the housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne show no signs of slowing down. In Sydney, property values have risen by 18.4%. The only cities to experience a drop in prices are Perth and Darwin. Nevertheless, vendors can’t afford to rest their laurels if they want to achieve a quick sale.

Why Conduct an Open Home Inspection?

Open house inspections are a popular sales technique to drum up buyer interest. Instead of allowing prospective buyers to make appointments to view on consecutive days, the vendor opens their home for a few hours, typically over a weekend, to allow a group of potential buyers to inspect the property. Opening your home for public viewings can be a smart move, but only if you make the right preparations.

A well-presented home suggests a buyer has spent time and money on the property. Buyers don’t want to invest in a home that may come with a host of unseen issues. If rooms are freshly decorated, clean and inviting, it reassures buyers they won’t need to spend extra money on repairs when they move in.

First Impressions Count

When it comes to selling a property, first impressions count. Most people make up their mind within a few minutes, so it’s important to set the stage correctly. If your property has kerb appeal, anyone driving by will want to stop and see more.

Step outside and look at your home objectively. Is this somewhere you would want to live if you were a prospective buyer? If the answer is “no”, you have a lot of work to do!

De-Clutter

First things first, spend a weekend decluttering your home. Sort items out into piles – junk can be thrown away, unwanted items sold, and anything you want to keep for the next house, box it up and store it in the garage or a storage lock-up. Tidy up workspaces and file documents. Surfaces should be clean, neat and tidy. What’s left should enhance a room, not detract from it.

The minimalist look isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s the best way to show off a room to its advantage. The less furniture you have, the more spacious a room will feel. Try to remove unnecessary items of furniture, so only your key pieces remain. Pick the most attractive ornaments and a selection of books, and display them on shelves and units.

Neutral Decor

You’re not just selling a home; you are selling a lifestyle. A home needs to look lived in and loved. People are more attracted to a property that they can picture themselves and their family living in.

Remove questionable artefacts and tone down your décor. Neutral may be boring, but it’s the least offensive to the maximum number of people. You may not have time to paint every room in the place cream, but if any rooms have a uniquely personal decorative scheme, it’s a good idea to target these first.

It’s the small things that make a room stand out. Buyers need a hook or they will forget your property the moment they leave. Buy some new bed linen and fluffy towels for the bathroom. A few bright scatter cushions can lift a sofa and add some colour to a neutral decorative scheme. You don’t need to spend much on a few simple accessories. Cheap cushions can be picked up from any home furnishings store.

Spring Clean

It should go without saying that a home needs to be spotlessly clean. Once you decide to market a property, clean it from top to bottom. No surface should go untouched. You must keep on top of your cleaning schedule, so when it comes time for the open house inspection, a quick spruce up is all that you need to do.

Add Kerb Appeal

To create the right ‘first impression’, boost your kerb appeal by making your property the most attractive one on the street. Tidy up the garden, cut the lawns, and remove weeds from pathways and borders. Park cars in the garage, or move them into a neighbouring street. It’s the small things that make a difference. A pile of junk mail sitting on the mat or a full box of rubbish on the kerbside creates a general sense of neglect, which is the last thing you want people to think.

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere on the Day

Once the home inspection open day arrives, spend some time preparing your home for visitors. Remove all pets and any signs of pets. This includes pet food bowls, dog beds, and any residual smells. Not everyone is a fan of dogs and cats, so don’t risk alienating a percentage of your prospective buyers. If a neighbour can take care of your dog, great. If not, put them in kennels for the day.

Give rooms a final once over and make sure bathrooms are clean and tidy – leave toilet seats down and add an air freshener if required.

Walk round and straighten photos and artwork hanging on walls.

Switch off all electronic devices, including computers and televisions.

Internal lamps should be switched on during a home inspection, even if it’s in the middle if the day. Artificial light in conjunction with daylight obliterates shadows and creates a more evenly lit setting. Light highlights any dim corners, and makes a room feel more inviting.

Place some nice garden furniture outdoors, so the outdoor area looks inviting.

The scent of a home is just as important as visual features. Our noses pick up all kinds of clues from how a home smells. For example, a home that’s been empty for many months will smell stale, which is off-putting. Pet smells are also unpleasant, especially if you’re not a pet lover.

Open windows for a few hours prior to a home inspection to allow any cooking smells to disperse. Buy some fresh flowers and if you have a coffee machine, brew some coffee. Most people can’t resist the smell of fresh coffee, even if they can’t stand drinking it. Placing a stick of cinnamon in a cup of water and microwaving it for a minute is a quick and easy way to add a warm, fragrant scent to a room. If you have time, you could also bake a cake. The offer of a slice of freshly baked cake is a great way to create the right impression with prospective buyers!

Be Available

On the day, be available to answer questions and serve drinks, but stay out of the way as much as possible. Give buyers the freedom to wander around at their own speed, in their own time. No areas should be off-limits. If you close off a room or prevent access to the garage, buyers will immediately assume you have something to hide.

A home inspection is your one opportunity to stand out from other houses in the neighbourhood, so don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity. If you create a positive first impression, prospective buyers are more likely to short-list your property. And the more interested buyers you have, the easier it will be to sell and to achieve the best selling price.

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