Sunday, February 15, 2015

How To Prepare Yourself And Your Family For Open Houses

Open houses can be a very stressful time for anyone trying to sell their house. You give up control of your place to your realtor, or at the very least if you are doing this yourself, to the public. If you have planned any of the work I suggested, like de-cluttering and cleaning the inside of your house, you are leaps and bounds ahead of most people.

Still, there are some extra steps you can take to be better prepared for this event. Before you even announce the open house, make sure you have considered these issues:

Confidential Documents

It would be a good idea to secure confidential information such as tax records, credit card notices and information about your children’s school(s). The people touring your home should not have the opportunity to see this information. Keep it locked away or stored off site. 

I would add that this is a good reason not to display your children’s photos during an open house! 


While we all hope that the people going through our house will be honest, it is better to be prepared. Look around at your valuables and take note of what must be removed from access. Jewelry, phones, cameras, tablets, laptops and computers shouldn’t be accessible. Secure all passports, IDs, cash or credit and debit cards.

Don’t forget about any guns or rifles! One certainly would not want any of these falling into the wrong hands. 

Think carefully about all your valuables and dangerous items and have a plan to remove them from public access during house tours.


If you have any medication in the house, be sure to store it out of view or store it elsewhere. Even a single stolen pill can cause harm, not to mention the replacement costs! Or worse, what if a visiting child thinks they are candy? Also, if you or any family members need to take any medication regularly, have a supply to take with you when you must vacate for your open house. Nothing would be worse that being away for hours without your meds on hand!

Hide the Pets

Animals shouldn't live in houses. Well, at least that is what most realtors probably think in secret! If you own a pet -- that loves you unconditionally, protects you vigilantly, amuses you with its absurdities and never judges you for your failings – have a plan in place to keep them away from your open house. That way, you won't have to explain how you managed to get all the hair out of the air conditioning ducts (because you didn't) or managed to suck the pet dander out of the carpeting (never happened). Be sure to remove any bowls, houses, toys, scratching posts – anything that will alert the potential buyers to your pets.

In addition, some buyers with severe allergies may be put off by your pets. Or they may be afraid and leave. Heaven forbid there should be an incident such as a dog bite.  

Lastly, if your pets are at all sensitive, it may be better for them to spend the day in a comfortable loving environment away from the touring strangers and possible stress or harm. 

So make sure that your pets are part of the plan!

Plan to Get Rid of the Kids for a While

If you are using a realtor, an open house would be a great opportunity for a family activity. Grab the kids and go have fun for a couple of hours! However, if you are conducting your own open house, you may wish to send the kids to Grandma’s or a friend’s house. That way, you can give the sale of your house your undivided attention.

And it will help prevent any toys from getting under foot.

Keep It Clean

Make sure that you have done a thorough cleaning of your house before you open it up to buyers. If you are unfortunate enough to have your open house on a rainy day, be prepared with some shower caps. If you just had those cream colored carpets cleaned, don’t assume that a buyer coming in out of the rain will remove their muddy shoes. Offer them (or have your realtor do so) some dollar store shower caps to quickly cover their soggy footwear if they insist on keeping them on. 

Keep them by the entrance along with a waste basket.

Take Pictures

Take pictures of your house and all rooms before you let people in. If anything should go wrong, breaks or go missing, it will help you to deal with your insurance company. Especially if you don’t have the original purchase receipts. This would be particularly true for any family heirlooms.

Invite Them To Stay A While

It is becoming more and more common to offer cookies or other treats, beverages and especially water to visitors at an open house. If you think that is too much of an unnecessary expense, imagine if staying for 2 extra minutes helps your buyer notice a key feature that they missed on their first pass resulting in an offer! Plan to offer snacks and beverages or inquire if your realtor plans to do so. 

Make sure your house smells fresh. Cut up some citrus, bake an apple pie or those cookies you are about to offer your guests to appeal to the buyers’ sense of smell.

Guest Registry

Realtors can usually sense if something is off about a prospective buyer. They probably have a lot of experience with suspicious people. If you are conducting your own open house, I would recommend that you keep a guest registry by the front door. Have anyone sign in with a name and phone number before you grant them access. While it is true that some people may falsify the information, it will at least give the impression that you have taken precautions to protect your house and family.  Hopefully it will make anyone with bad intentions think twice.

Get Help

Open houses can be overwhelming. If you have a big turn out, it may be more than you can handle. A good idea would be to have friends or family there to assist you. At the very least, set up a plan to call in your next door neighbor if traffic gets too dense.

Next week we will take a look at reasons why some people would choose not to have a traditional sale for their house.

So thanks for reading my post. I'm so glad you're here! And I’ll look forward to getting into more good stuff in future posts so that you can Turn Your House To $OLD!

Feel free to ask me any questions on my facebook page: Turn My House To Sold

I would be very happy to help.