Home Sellers: 10 Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Open House

Yes, it's true, it's a seller's market out there, but you can still ruin your chance at finding a willing buyer while mortgage rates remain low or landing the price you want if you mess up your open house.

Here are 10 open-house mistakes to avoid:

No. 1: Hovering
As a seller, your job is to get out of the way. Let your agent and their team interact with the buyers. Nothing scares off buyers faster than getting cornered 

by a desperate seller, says Elizabeth Weintraub, a Realtor with Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

"Buyers don't like it when they are hovered over. Give the buyer some information and let them look through the home on their own."

No. 2: Half-baked staging
If you are going to professionally stage your home, stage the whole house, or at least one entire floor. Nothing is more jarring than two elegantly appointed rooms followed by an empty dining room or den, says Maureen Reddy, a professional stager and owner of DaVinci Designer Gallery in Winthrop, Massachusetts.

"Nothing done halfway is ever any good," she says. And unless your agent is a professionally trained stager or interior designer, hire someone who knows what they are doing to handle this sensitive job. Don't let your agent start bringing in his or her furniture for the open house -- it happens more than you would think and it can backfire badly, Reddy says.

No. 3: Rookie agent on duty
Your agent may not be the one to actually show your house. But make sure you are confident your Realtor has a capable and well-trained team, Weintraub says. While you don't want the agent at your open house to bombard potential buyers with information, you want to make sure whoever is there is available to answer any and all questions and is not more concerned with texting or reading a book.

No. 4: Music
You don't need music to sell a house.

"At best it is distracting," says Rona Fischman, owner of 4 Buyers Real Estate in Somerville, Massachusetts. "At worst, buyers will get suspicious that there is more road noise, or mechanical noise or neighbor noise that you are covering up."

No. 5: Failure to provide marketing materials
All buyers who walk through your house should be able to pick up an info packet to take with them, says Weintraub. There's no excuse for running out of copies. Otherwise it's out of sight, out of mind.

No. 6: Smells
Forget heavy air fresheners. Like other attempts to spice up the atmosphere, at best it's a distraction and at worst it may raise questions about what you are hiding.

And yes, while pristine cleaning is paramount, the night before your open house is not the time to plaster your abode with industrial cleaners. The stench of bleach -- and the immediate questions it will raise in a buyer's mind -- will do more damage to your chances than that tiny patch of mold in the corner of the shower.

Skip the cookies baking in the oven as well. Maybe it worked in the 90s, but buyers figured that one out a long time ago, says Fischman.

"You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and if the impression is an overwhelming smell, you lose," she says. "Whether it cookies or disinfectant, if it is noticeable -- and not merely background -- buyers will notice."

No. 7: Leaving jewelry, valuables about
From gawkers to serious buyers, quite a crowd will tramp through your house. Don't tempt anyone's honesty. Besides losing something precious, you could also poison the deal with needless suspicion when something goes missing and everyone is suddenly is a suspect, Fischman says.

No. 8: Pets
Letting your beloved pets hang around on open house day could prove costly. Not only should you put your dog or cat in a kennel for the open house, you need to remove all signs of your beloved animal friends. That means litter boxes as well -- a number one turnoff for sellers.

"The kitty-litter box has no place at an open house," says Reddy.

No. 9: The wrong temperature
This one's simple: Your house should be warm but not hot in the winter and cool but not cold in the summer. Don't blow it by playing games with the thermostat.

No. 10: Bad photos
If the online photos of your house are dim, blurry, taken at odd angles or of odd rooms, don't be surprised if no one shows up. Bad photos prevent potential buyers from ever showing up in the first place.

This article Sellers: 10 Mistakes that Could Ruin Your Open House originally appeared on HSH.com

Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American homeowner and taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

You may also enjoy these real estate articles:

First-time buyers guide to open houses

Today's mortgage rates

The salary you must earn to buy a home in 27 metros 


Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 6:09 PM, Oliver10102 wrote:

    A friend who is a realtor tells the story of a seller who hid in a big box on the premises, the day of the open house.

    She became aware of the problem when one of the customers mentioned the box moving.

    I THINK THIS SHOULD FALL UNDER THE HOVERING CATAGORY.................. DONT DO THIS.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 8:37 PM, djconklin wrote:

    QUOTE: "If the online photos of your house are dim, blurry, taken at odd angles or of odd rooms, don't be surprised if no one shows up. Bad photos prevent potential buyers from ever showing up in the first place."

    This one should be for the agents.

    I've looked at maybe a hundred homes this past year and only ONE had any decent photos of the rooms in the house.

    Or, you show up at the house (always arrive early if you are a buyer--you'll learn things from the neighbors that the realtor won't tell you. Like the house had been vacant for two years and was a meth lab before that.) and you see things that are not shown in any picture--stucco coming out from the wall, garage is in such tough shape it should be torn down, and how many pics of a house for sale do they show a close up of the "driveway"? (that had to be torn up), or a house with radiant heating and you see a pipe with the elbow blown out--did they show a pic of that? Nope. Holes in the walls and/or doors.

    I swear I could buy just about any house out there and by picking up the garbage outside and mowing the lawn (Hello?!? Do you want to sell the place or not?), sweep and mop the wood or vinyl floors, paint the walls, take high quality color photos and then resell the place for $10k more than I paid for it.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2978375, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2014 10:31:50 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement