Open House Mistakes

11 Open House Mistakes that Can Turn Home Buyers Away

Are you selling your home? Getting ready for your open house? Open houses are important in selling your home fast. If you time it right, price it right and your home shows well, you can even sell your home in one weekend. As a real estate agent, I have seen many common mistakes home sellers make at open houses that can turn buyers away.

Open House Mistakes to Avoid

1. Pets

Pets can be a major turnoff for potential home buyers during open houses. Many sellers make the mistake of leaving pet-related items, such as toys and accessories, out in the open. It’s best to hide these pet items before the open house. This will help to ensure that your home appeals to all types of buyers, including those who are not fond of pets. 

During an open house, keep your pets and pet items out of sight. For example, if you have a dog, it’s best to take them for a walk or leave them with a friend during the open house. Also, put away all pet accessories.

I’ve been to open houses where the seller decides to leave their dog in his crate. As a result, the dog barked the entire time, which was disruptive and scared off buyers. The buyers also ended up rushing through the part of your home near the dog since they got distracted by the barking dog instead of looking at the room. 

When it comes to pet birds, it’s best not to keep them in the house during an open house. Birds can be noisy and can scare off potential buyers. However, if you cannot remove your pet bird from the house, be sure to put up a sign that reads “Do Not Touch” to avoid accidental bites. Also, make sure that the bird’s cage is clean with no foul odors. 

For pet hamsters and gerbils, it’s best to remove them from the house during an open house. You just don’t want people coming into your open house focusing on your cute hamsters instead of your home. Also, your real estate agent can’t properly monitor your pet. 

If you have pet fish, it’s okay to leave them in the house during an open house. Fish are typically more decorative than other pets and are less likely to cause distractions. However, it’s important to make sure that the fish tank is clean and presentable. Put away any fish food and accessories to keep the area looking neat and tidy.

open house mistakes

2. Bad Smell

One common mistake that home sellers make during open houses is not airing out their house. It’s important to ensure that any unwanted smells are taken care of ahead of time. The last thing you want is for potential buyers to be hit with the scent of last night’s dinner or dirty diapers when they walk through the door. 

To get rid of lingering smells, open your windows a few hours before the open house. This will help freshen up your home and create a more inviting atmosphere. If you want to add a light scent, consider using some diffuser sticks. But be careful not to go overboard; a subtle scent is all you need. 

During the open house, if the weather permits, try to keep some windows open. This will help circulate fresh air and create a comfortable environment for potential buyers. These small steps can go a long way toward making a good impression on potential buyers.

3. Dark Home

Another common mistake that home sellers make at open houses that can turn buyers away is if their home is too dark. Every buyer looks for a bright and welcoming home, which is why it’s important to make sure that your home is bright and cheerful during your open house. 

Before your open house, make sure all the blinds and curtains are fully open to allow as much natural light as possible into the house. If you have heavy drapes and curtains, it’s better to remove them as they can make your home look dated and gloomy. 

Also, assess your home and identify any dark walls or carpets that need changing. Repainting dark walls and swapping out dark rugs can significantly brighten up a room. 

Check if any trees or tall shrubs are obstructing your windows and blocking natural light from entering your home. If so, cutting them down may be worth considering to bring more light into your home. 

Inspect all your lighting fixtures, and make sure that you don’t have any broken bulbs. During the open house, turn on all the lights in your home, including pot lights, floor lamps, and every other lighting fixture. 

Although it might feel excessive, layering light can make a huge difference in creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. This will make your home look bright and cheery during your open house.

4. Messy Home

A messy home can easily turn buyers away at an open house. Although it seems obvious that it’s a prerequisite to make sure your home is neat before an open house. But believe it or not, I have been to open houses where the home is messy.  

This reflects poorly on the seller and the buyers will think the home is not well-maintained. Also, a messy home can distract buyers and prevent them from seeing the potential of your home. Instead, they will get hung up on the clutter, causing them to overlook other important features.

Open House Mistakes

5. Personal Items

It’s important to make your open house a welcoming space for potential buyers. However, certain personal items like pictures, diplomas, and political or faith-related materials can be off-putting to visitors. To avoid any distractions or privacy issues, it’s best to keep these items out of sight. 

Magnets, stickers and anything to show your political affiliation is a big no-no. Even pamphlets that show your faith affiliation are also a bad idea.

It’s also important to store any mail or documents with your personal information, such as your name or address. Don’t forget to keep your prescription drugs out of sight and not in your medicine cabinet where it can be easily found. By doing so, potential buyers will be able to focus on your home without being influenced.

6. Exterior

It’s important to consider the exterior of your house when preparing for an open house. First impression is everything, and a poorly maintained exterior can easily turn buyers away before they even step inside. 

As a real estate agent, I have been to homes where my clients refuse to go into the house because they don’t like the look of the home from the outside. They skip a home altogether based solely on the outside appearance.

A dirty exterior is a deal-breaker. If the siding is covered in green mildew or the lawn is overgrown with weeds, it will turn buyers off. A messy front porch or clogged gutters can also make the buyer think that you don’t maintain your home. 

To improve your chances, have someone power wash your home and remove any clutter from the porch. Make sure your lawn is well-kept, and your patio furniture is clean, inviting, and with cushions if it is summertime. 

If your doormat is worn out, it’s time to invest in a new one. A quick wipe of the front door to remove any dust and a sweep of the front porch can do wonders. Enhance your curb appeal by adding some flowers to your flower bed or planters on your front porch. These small touches can make a big difference in creating a good first impression.

7. Blocking off Areas of the House

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a seller is to block off areas of your house during an open house. It’s important that every part of the house is open to the public. 

If you have areas that you’re not ready to show yet, it’s best to delay the open house until your home is ready for showings. Keeping certain parts of your home off-limits may lead buyers to believe that there’s something wrong with that section of the house, which is not the impression you want to give. 

Remember, an open house is your opportunity to showcase your home’s best features and make a great impression on potential buyers.

8. Stuffy Home

Another big open house mistake that can turn buyers off is if your home is stuffy. Buyers walking into a stuffy home will make the buyers feel uncomfortable and might give them the impression that something is wrong with your HVAC system.

You should always check the temperature before the open house and make sure visitors will feel comfortable when they come in to see your home. If it’s a hot day outside, turn on the air conditioning and crack open the windows to let fresh air circulate throughout your home. This way, potential buyers will have a good experience while viewing your home.

9. Seller at Home

One mistake that I have seen many times during open houses is when the seller is present in the house. Although the seller may think they are there to be helpful to answer questions, it can actually backfire and make the seller look too eager or pushy. 

This may even intimidate the buyers and put them off. It can also harm the seller’s bargaining power during negotiations. 

It’s best for the seller to leave the house and let the real estate agent handle the open house. This helps buyers feel more comfortable and free to explore the property without the seller’s watchful eyes or hovering presence nearby.

10. Tenants

I’ve noticed a common mistake during open houses that can be a turn-off for potential buyers – having tenants who are still living in the house. Typically, tenants may not be as diligent in cleaning and decluttering the home, making it difficult for the house to be ready for the open house.

I’ve seen homes in complete disarray, with boxes everywhere, because tenants are moving out. This can be very distracting for potential buyers looking to buy a home. 

Also, tenants may not follow the necessary steps to make the home presentable, such as not taking their pets out of the house or leaving a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink or failing to air out the house after cooking.

If you have a tenant, it’s best to wait until they move out before scheduling an open house. But, if you’re in a rush and want the house sold before they move out, have a cleaning service come in to do a little tidying up before the open house, so it’s ready for showings.

11. Leaving Space Heaters Out

A big mistake that sellers make at open houses is they leave equipment and small appliances that make potential buyers think something is wrong with their house.

For example, never leave a portable space heater in plain sight because buyers will immediately suspect that your HVAC is broken.

Another example is leaving an air blower out during your open house. Potential buyers might suspect you have a leak and water damage!

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