Preparing Your Home For an Open House: Tips From the Pros

Updated on October 4th, 2019
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Are you putting your home on the market soon? Whether you’re selling in one of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Francisco or most popular ones in Austin, every homeowner should prepare their home for open houses and personal tours. As your real estate agent is probably suggesting, the more traffic your home sees the more bids you’ll most likely attract. In fact, according to recent data homes that have open houses not only sell for $9,000 more on average, they also spend fewer days on the market. Who wouldn’t want that?

To better understand what actually makes a successful open house and what homeowners can do to make their property shine to potential homebuyers, we went out and talked with the pros that know. From home designers to professional staging companies, these experts gave their top tips, tricks, and advice on how you should be preparing your home for an open house.

Beautiful home ready for an open house

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1) Generate traffic

It’s crucial to have great professional photographs to get potential buyers interested in seeing the home in person. Real estate agents should present a buying/selling Q&A session with a mortgage professional, stager, and home inspector at the open house – this will give buyers a great takeaway, and leave a lasting impression.”  Joan Inglis – Carolina Spaces


Open house for home at night

2) Enhance your curb appeal

“An open house should start with an inviting curb appeal enhanced with a fresh coat of paint, new light fixtures, big planters framing the entrance and trimmed grass.”   Clara Godbey – Home Staging & Organizing

3) Clean and declutter

“Think 5-star hotel for your home’s open house; repairs completed, replacements installed, de-personalized, de-cluttered, immaculately clean, with all furnishings arranged picture perfect.”  Sherry Castaldi – Organized by Design

4) Make simple updates

“Buyers connect with a home emotionally within 15 seconds of walking through the front door. Updating paint colors and replacing lighting is one of the least expensive ways to make the biggest impact and make your home relevant to your buyer.”  Helen Bartlett – Kansas City Home Stagers


large open windows during an open house

5) Let light in

“Wash your windows on the inside and outside so that they’re sparkling clean! Push back or remove heavy, dated window treatments. Let in as much natural light as possible.”  Mary Ann Pickett- Classic Casual Home

6) Think light and bright

“Buyers are looking for light and bright. Remove heavy window coverings and bring in fresh neutral paint colors.” Erin Quigley – Open House

7) Consider the little things

“Having an open house is all about creating an unforgettable experience. Pillows, plants, and candles can bring life and highlight the best areas of your home.”  Agnieszka Wilk – Decorilla

8) Stage your home

“Rent it, don’t buy it! When it comes to preparing for an open house, renting furniture is popular because it offers unlimited options, regardless of size or style. You can rent just the pieces you need for as long as you need them, and then you don’t have to worry about moving or storing the furniture once the home is sold.”  Erin Osterhaus – CORT

9) Create vignettes

“Focus on vignettes that leave a lasting impression for potential home buyers. Create the “Warm Welcome” by using a fresh scent paired with immaculately clean surfaces, or “The Bonus Area” where you showcase a perk such as a patio or a backyard with décor. Focusing on these small details can make all the difference in elevating the story of your home.”  Stacy Cunningham – Inmod

10) Accessorize strategically

“Strategic accessorizing is key! Faux fur pillows, thick blankets, candles, and flowers create a cozy environment that is sure to make buyers feel warm and fuzzy while touring a home.”  Priscilla Bettencourt – Halcyon Home Staging + Design

Home staged for open house

11) Fluff the pillows

“Fluff the pillows on sofas and beds; messy pillows visually creates a messy house. Also, playing soft music through the home is a nice touch; jazz or classical is always appropriate.”  Sonja Parker – Design Box

12) Open doors and windows

“Open up doors and windows and let buyers head outdoors to linger and admire the beautiful surroundings while serving some refreshing peach tea and sweet treats and make it a Facebook LIVE worthy event!”  Krisztina Bell – No Vacancy Home Staging

Plants strategically located in living room for open house

13) Add a little green

“Add a little green to any space that needs a spark of life — a tropical floor plant, a potted tree, or even a little succulent arrangement in a staged room can go a long way to wake up the space and make it inviting.”  Anne Christensen – Red House Staging & Interiors

14) Have the TV on

“Appeal to the sports enthusiast and have a TV on with “the game.” This keeps everyone happy, and hopefully in the house longer.”  Lisa Basham – Staged to Sell Homes




Beautifully arrange table for open house

15) Offer a local taste

“One open house trend we’re loving is the serving of local food, which gives prospective buyers a taste of neighborhood flair. Consider pre-packaged treats from a nearby bakery, or even a local food truck parked outside (bonus: the mess stays outside of the beautifully staged house)!”  Kate Simmons – Decoist

16) Create a memorable experience

“Bring a Bluetooth speaker for music (Miles Davis is always a safe bet), fresh flowers beautifully arranged, and a killer cheese and fruit tray.”  Heather Visnesky – Abode

17) Be mindful of traffic flow

“Extra pieces of furniture crowding a room or a random floor lamp in a dining room can trip people up as they walk through. Open houses get crowded and you want to make sure folks can navigate easily. If they can’t, buyers will wonder if they can entertain easily in the home.”  Julie Chrissis – Chrissis & Company Interiors

18) Provide a neighborhood perspective

“Provide a neighbor testimonial sheet! Prior to the open house ask surrounding neighbors to state what they love most about living in that neighborhood. Attach testimonials to the hand out sheets.”  Leslie Eicher – Staging that Sells

19) Create a lasting impression

“I want to walk into a home that feels so bright, clean, modern, consistent and beautifully furnished that I never want to leave.”  Jessamy Tsoris – Color Zen

outdoor space on balcony set for an open house
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Jeff enjoys writing about the many aspects of home-ownership. From how-to projects he does on his own home to mortgage payoff and investment strategies, he likes to create useful content his readers will enjoy. His dream home would be a small house on a lake or the Puget Sound, with lots of natural light and a dedicated space for his woodworking.

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