If you’ve kept up with our blogs, you know how to prepare for open houses. You know that a fresh coat of paint in an otherwise drab room isn’t a bad idea. You know that in spring the bushes should be trimmed and in winter salt should be laid. You know that baking cookies during an open house is an easy way to add a comforting aroma, a hospitable charm and a homey atmosphere.
When you get down to it, preparing for a scheduled open house isn’t all that hard. You clean, declutter and make your home look presentable. But what happens when potential homebuyers show up unannounced? It happens. Independent buyers can show up without calling and expect to see your house. Sure, you can turn them away and set up a more convenient time for them to show up. However, this move might turn them away, wondering what it is you have to hide, and annoyed at you not working with their schedule.
It is, after all, a buyers’ market.
So when the doorbell rings in the middle of your cooking brunch late on a Saturday morning, what should you do? Here are some tips on how to stay focused and calm during a surprise visit, and how to make the house presentable no matter what.
Start making these chores a daily habit, so that when a surprise visitor arrives, these things are already in order:
• Make your bed, and have everyone in the house make their beds.
• Designate a room or part of the yard for pets.
• Replace a light bulb as soon as one burns out.
• Apply salt to walkways as soon as icy conditions occur. Shovel snow right away too. Keep grass mowed and weeds pulled.
• Lubricate door hinges so that no doors squeak.
• Dust, vacuum and wash windows on a weekly basis or when you notice a need for cleaning.
• Wash dishes immediately after use and place them in the dishwasher, or dry and put away.
• Open window blinds on major windows each morning after you wake up.
• Provide containers or crates for toys, and make room for them in a closet.
• Make it a rule to take off shoes at the door, and supply a container for the shoes.
• Change out of your pajamas as soon as you wake up.
When the doorbell rings, here are quick fixes to do before answering the door or while the potential buyer is looking at your house:
• Put the pets away in your designated room or yard.
• Put all toys away in the containers or crates.
• Have a candle on hand for you to light when the doorbell sounds.
• Close closet doors; open bedroom and bathroom doors.
• Keep mouthwash on hand to quickly use as you put away toys and light a candle.
• Have space available in a closet or on a coat tree for your potential buyers’ coats.
• While the buyer is looking around, go to your laundry area and remove all clothes from clotheslines and throw them in the dryer, out of sight.
• Turn on an appropriate television show or some music, to lessen any awkward silences.
• Know the information on your house, such as its total square feet, so you are prepared for questions.
• Stay calm. Don’t run around and shout through the door to the surprise visitor. All of these last-minute tips can be done quickly enough to not keep the visitor waiting. Act polite, and if they are inconveniencing you, don’t show it.
Chances are, a potential buyer who shows up unexpectedly will be courteous and will ask if it’s okay for him or her to view your house at that time. If you agree, and your house looks put together and prepared for visitors, you will score yourself an impressed buyer.