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The Right (And Wrong) Way To Host & Attend Open Houses

Gordon Lane

Listening to clients, cutting edge marketing, the latest technologies and effective negotiating are what Gordon and his team provide...

Listening to clients, cutting edge marketing, the latest technologies and effective negotiating are what Gordon and his team provide...

Sep 19 7 minutes read

Open houses are a huge part of both the buying and selling process. You might be hesitant to host or attend one because they can be painfully awkward. Walking around your potential new home with a real estate agent following you from room to room isn't always the most comfortable experience. And if you are a seller, you are opening your home up to strangers!

But as a buyer, this is your time to finally see what that home you bookmarked online looks like in person. Maybe it looks just as wonderful as it did online. But maybe you are going to find out that careful selection of photo angles kept you from seeing the power line overhead, just how awkward the kitchen really is, or the neighbor's *interesting* collection of cars on the front lawn.

But as a seller, this is your moment to make your home look special and showcase what you have loved most about your home over the years.

When done right, open houses can lead to on the spot sales, bidding wars, and can open your eyes to what you're really looking for in a home. We took a few stories from Andrew Dorn of, who visited seven different open houses in one weekend, to show you the right (and wrong) way to host and attend open houses.

Buyer Tips

If you are a potential buyer going to open houses in hopes of finding your next home, you'll need to be prepared for a few red flags to look out for. You should also go into the open house with a few pointers and questions to ask.

If the home you're going to is one you have been looking at online, then you probably already know a little bit about the property. Even if you've lived in or around the same town the home is in, there are still a few questions you should have prepared to get a true sense of the house and the area.

Get The Positives & Negatives

Ask the real estate agent what the positives and negatives are about the home that you should know. If they are honest (which they should be!), knowing potential problems about the home or neighborhood are better to know upfront than later down the line. And in California both agents and sellers are legally required to tell potential buyers about anything that may impact the value of the home, whether that be as minor as sometimes noisy neighbors or as major as repeated flooding of the neighborhood!

Learn More About The Neighborhood

Ask them what they know about the area - are home prices rising or declining, is it in a Mello Roos district (if you don't know what that is you need to find out!), are there  HOA fees? The real estate agent should know and be ready to share their expertise. And if you come up a question that stumps them, the agent should happily promise to do the research and let you know what they find out. 

Ask About Other Properties

Finally, you should always ask the real estate agent if they know of any similar properties in the area that you might be interested in. If this isn’t the one for you, but you’re looking for a similar home in the area or nearby, the agent should be able to help you out.

Seller Tips

Whether you're selling your home on your own and hosting an open house, or working with a real estate agent to host one for you, there are a few tips that can make or break how your home looks in the eyes of potential buyers.

Clean up! 

As Andrew approached one of the seven homes, right above the front door was a little perch where birds could sit. It's a great thought, but when he looked down there was bird poop all over the concrete that enters into the door. 

“It makes me sick. I actually had to kind of take a hop step and jump over it so I wouldn't get the bird stuff on the bottom of my shoes.”

This is your homes first impression. If potential buyers get a bad taste in their mouth from the front porch, then the expectations are set before they even talk through the door. 

Follow through with the same kind of cleaning inside your house. Pretend your clean-fanatic aunt who will be leaving her estate to one of her nieces or nephews will be coming for a visit - and prepare accordingly.

Remove Any Signs of Pets

Almost everyone loves pets, but that doesn’t mean that everyone likes to see where they live -- and go to the bathroom. As Andrew walked into a bathroom in one of the homes, he saw what he thought was a trash can which actually was a kitty litter box. After an even closer look, he noticed a mark left by the kitty. 

In the kitchen, there was a beautiful vase of flowers on the counter. It was a great and simple touch to add to the open house; however, next to the vase was a small Tupperware container with what seemed to be little brown round things - which again belonged to a cat. It was cat food. 

“If you look at it, I promise you, I think some people would pick it up and say I wonder if this is chocolate.”

And this can sound rude - but have someone who doesn't have pets come to your house and do the sniff test. Those of us who have pets can become desensitized to pet odors. My dog is a 70 pound sweetie (half Bernese Mountain Dog, half ?). I know that when people visit they can tell a dog lives in our house even though I don't smell anything.

Stage Your Home!

Buyers expect tip-top shape and for your home to be show-ready. Out of the seven open houses that Andrew attended, only one or two of them seemed to be actually ready for potential buyers to look at. If the home is vacant consider hiring a stager so that potential buyers can see how rooms can be organized for comfortable living. And if you are still living in the home then stage by decluttering and depersonalizing your home. You are going to be moving so why not use this opportunity to pack and put belongings into storage? Buyers want to see a house that feels spacious with lots of room for their stuff, not closets packed full and rooms that feel like a maze because there is so much furniture. And remember that aunt who will be deciding which relative gets her inheritance? Take down her photos, and all the rest of the wonderful family photos you have. Buyers want to be able to imagine the house as theirs and that can be hard to do with your family staring back at them!

Open Houses Can Be Awkward.

If you'd rather avoid the awkwardness all together,
we can schedule a private showing of your dream home.

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