Frequent Questions to Consider for Getting Your House Ready for Showings

Picture this!  You have signed a listing agreement with a Realtor.  You have seven days to get your home ready to show to buyers.   What do you need to do to get the house ready for showings?  What should come first?  What is must-do versus a nice to do?    There are a lot of questions to answer and many things to do before the first showing.    It is never easy to get a home ready to sell, but we are here to help!

Please find below a list of frequent questions to consider for getting getting your home ready for showings.   This post is one in a series on frequent questions to consider when selling your house.   Be sure to check out the rest of the frequent questions.

Here is a list of frequent questions to consider when getting your house ready for showings.

What repairs do I make? Do I need to hire a contractor? – When it comes to getting your house ready for showing in a week, any repairs made would have to be more minor ones.  If you still have major repairs to do on the property, you either want to delay the listing, or make sure to explicit state in the listing that the major repairs will be done before the buyer closes on the house.  At the very least, you should make sure the floors and walls are perfect as they can be.  Fresh paint and floors will do a lot towards selling your house.   With minor repairs, it might proof worthwhile to bring in a contractor to make sure it is done correctly.   You can find contractors online through services like Angie’s List, or Houzz.  You should be careful when using a contractor.  Ask the contractor for references and be sure to contact the local Better Business Bureau for a rating.  Never pay a contractor any money unless you are sure he will follow through and do the job.  If your gut tells you something is not right, it is always best to follow your gut.

What do I clean? – Everything!  Buyers need to know that your house is the one for them.   If you house is dirty, they will not be able to look past the dirt to see the house itself.   We recommend you clean the house deeply before you start showings and then maintain this deep clean throughout the showing process, no matter how long it may take.   If your budget allows, hire a maid to come in to do the work for you.   You need to be sure all parts of the house is clean including utility rooms, closets and the pantry.

What do I declutter? – Everything!  Please remember that you always want to put your house in the best possible light for buyers.   Clutter, like dirt, draws the buyer’s eyes away from your great house.  You don’t want to make buyers work to see a great space of a particular room.   If you don’t have somewhere to put all the clutter outside the home (we recommend a storage service of some sort), then it is best to put it all the in garage.   We don’t recommend putting PODS or temporary storage in your driveway as this takes away from the curb appeal of the house.

How do I arrange my furniture?  – Logically!  You want to make your rooms look as useful as possible and rooms with too much furniture will take away from the overall presentation.  If you must, consider excess furniture part of your clutter cleanup.   Furniture should be spaced well enough that buyers can see the room size and the arrangement should make sense for that room’s function so buyers don’t have to work to visualize how they would arrange their own furniture. Finally, it should aesthetically pleasing to the eye.   If your furniture doesn’t go well with your paint color, it is a good idea to paint the room so the two do match.

Do I need to hire a professional stager?  – If your budget allows for it, it is always a good idea to hire a professional stager.  Staged homes just sell faster as it presents a great picture to the buyers and allows them to truly visualize the home as their own.   Professional stagers can cost thousands of dollars, but they are well worth the money since they tend to sell your home much more quickly.   For more information, check out the Real Estate Staging Association.

Do I leave my personal family pictures on the walls? – When getting your home ready for showings, it is always a good idea to take down your family photos.  First, it is never a good idea to let strangers know exactly who is who in your house as not everyone has your best interest at heart.   Secondly, buyers have a difficult time visualizing a house as their own when they see pictures of someone’e else family on the walls.  I have seen some sellers leave their more artistic frames in place for showings and this actually works quite nicely as the frame itself adds to the overall presentation of the property.   For the most part, however, it is always a good idea to take down any personal photos or mementos.

What do I do with all my sensitive documents and information? – You should realize right now that some people who schedule showings don’t really don’t want to buy your house.  They only set up a showing to steal your personal information, which sellers will often just leave out in plain sight.  It is always best to safely secure your sensitive information in a place where buyers cannot easily like deep in a closet, high up on a shelf.

Do I need to put away my expensive things? – I once showed a house where the media room had science fiction memorabilia lining the shelves of the room.  The presentation was super because you truly felt like you were in a media room.  However, I knew that many of these items were very expensive and it was not too difficult for someone to just walk off with any of the items.   I would say it is never a good idea to leave anything of value in clear view when getting your house ready for showings.

Do I need to worry about my medicine cabinet? – Yes.  Some people will even schedule showings or go to open houses to go through your medicine cabinets for prescription drugs.   You should hide these items with your sensitive information during showings.

How often do I need to clean the house once showings start?  – We recommend you do it every day to keep the baseline deep cleaning intact.   In this way, you don’t have to scramble to clean up messes whenever a showing is quickly scheduled.   At the very least, you should clean every other day.  It is a pain, but it will help your stress levels if you just get it done and don’t procrastinate on it.

What schedule do I want for my showings? – You can set up whatever schedule works for you.  Most realtors will use a scheduling service to manage the showing appointments.  You can tell your realtor what days and hours you will allow showings.  We recommend you keep this as open as possible with normal business hours as a guide, maybe a couple of hours each evening.  With weekends, as much as you can stomach.  Buyers work like you do and need some off hours to see your house.

What do I do with my pets? – The best advice is to take them off the property all together.  If this is not possible, you should secure the animals in crates.   If this does not work with you, you can always put them in the backyard and ask buyers to refrain from going back there.  However, most buyers want to see the backyard so we only recommend this latter solution if there is no other option.

I have been told my house smells.  How do I get rid of the bad smells? –  Be sure to make sure to work to eliminate any odors from your house as well.  Buyers don’t like strong odors and there is nothing that turns off a buyer more quickly than a smelly house.  If you don’t think your house smells, invite someone over to see.  You can sometimes get so used to the smells of your house that you don’t notice them anymore.  For the really strong odors, search on Google for the array of new products that work on eliminating odors from your house.  I have been amazed at how well these products work.

What do I need to do to the front of my house?  Do I need to mow my lawn regularly?  – First impressions are very important so be sure to get the front of your house should be perfect.   Clutter can kill curb appeal.  A fresh coat of paint on shudders or other trimmings will aid in the presentation.   You should also keep your lawn in shape when getting your home ready for showings.   You should trim any trees and shrubs to make them look neat.  You should mow as often as it takes for the curb appeal to be at its best.