Selling guide

8 tips to make your open home a success

First impressions are key when selling. Make sure your house is sale-ready with our practical tips.

Last updated: 1 February 2023

First impressions are key when selling. Make sure your house is sale-ready with our practical tips.

What you'll learn

  • A list of tasks to get the home ready
  • Find out how to add value relatively inexpensively
  • Consider experts you’ll need to bring in

One of the key steps to selling a home in New Zealand is making sure it looks its best to potential buyers. The care you take to present your property to “wow” standards for your open homes will mean the difference between having a range of buyers excited about it or just one or two. We can’t emphasise the importance of this enough if you want to get a great price for your home.

So, how do you prepare for an open home and any important private viewings? Here are some top tips to have your home sparkling and gleaming.

How to achieve open home success

1. De-clutter

There are two reasons why decluttering is a no-brainer when preparing for an open home:

  • You don't want to mask your home's potential – Too much stuff in your house is distracting for prospective buyers and it stops them from seeing how the home’s layout could work for them.
  • De-personalise the spaces – With all your family photos lying around, it can be hard for potential buyers to imagine the house as their own. Clear spaces so they can visualise how their things might fit into the home.

Taking clutter out of the house and putting it into storage can be a good solution. Empty out stuffed linen cupboards and wardrobes and put your possessions elsewhere until you’re ready to move on to your next home. Expect buyers to explore every space in the house, from the garage to the attic. Storage is one of the key things people are looking for so you want to show how much space you have to offer.

Don't neglect cupboards, wardrobes, and drawers when you're decluttering.

2. Clean and freshen up

You want your home to smell fresh, clean and inviting the minute home buyers enter the property. Either you and a team of friends or professional cleaners need to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Carpets need to be shampooed, curtains cleaned or removed, everything needs to be absolutely spic and span. This will be an extraordinary deep clean, from the skirting boards to the windowsills, under the sofas, the oven, you name it.

Avoid cooking odorous dinners during the time you’re marketing your home. Anything that smells, get it outta the house. And that includes your old lab, Rufus. Send him to stay with a doting aunty.

3. Fix anything not working

The last thing you want is for your agent to be showing a promising potential buyer into the master bedroom, and the light switch doesn’t work. Is there something wrong with the house’s wiring, the buyer might wonder. Don’t let that happen.

Bring in your favourite handyperson and make sure all the windows and doors open beautifully, the pool is clean, the taps run, drawers glide out effortlessly in the kitchen, all the things you know people will test as they’re going through the house.

Any suggestion of a need for maintenance rings alarm bells for prospective buyers, so take any, even small, concerns off their list.

4. Renovate (if needed)

The thought of doing a renovation before you sell may make you suck in your breath in horror. But listen to your agent on this. At the very least it's a good idea to see how on-trend key features of the home are.

If important areas such as the bathroom or kitchen haven't been touched up in a while, it might be a good idea to renovate before starting open homes. It may just mean changing some hardware with smart taps, or replacing cupboard fronts to give the room a more up to date feel.

If the agent recommends something more substantial, get them to cost it for you with a reputable builder. You’ll want to make sure it’ll increase the value of your property so you can recoup the money spent on the sale.

Dripping taps, peeling paint and stiff window latches should all be on your fix list.

5. Spruce up the exterior

Your refresh and polish also applies to the home’s exterior as that’s the first thing buyers will see, especially if they do a drive-by or a walk past before deciding whether to attend the open home. Paint your front fence, replace the letterbox if it’s old and wonky and reassure the buyer that your home has been beautifully looked after.

Make sure the lawn is looking pristine, your hedges are trimmed and any stylish landscaping is highlighted. Invest in water-blasting the driveway and organise a house wash. Make sure you have freshly cleaned windows and no sign of cobwebs.

First impressions count.

6. Set the scene

In your freshly de-cluttered environment, stage an idyllic, relaxed home featuring fresh flowers, well-placed art and an occasional carefully-chosen knick-knack. Highlight seating areas, where you might have a coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night.

You’ll probably need to reduce your furniture to create a better feel of space and flow within a room. This isn’t really your house for the next few weeks.

7. Hire a professional home stager

Professional home stagers are becoming increasingly popular because they’re so adept at making a home look stylish and on-trend. They offer a combination of design nous and practical help. They’ll bring in plants, furniture, art, you name it, to make your home sing.

Your agent will be able to recommend a few for you to interview and some will be happy to only partially stage the home so you can stay in the house. But be prepared to lose some of your furniture for a while. Your agent will tell you how much value home staging adds to the price you get for your home.

Whether you do it yourself, or get professional help, you'll need to think about how to present your home to buyers.

8. Live like you're in a showroom

The last of our open home tips is to remember you must be prepared for a viewing at a moment’s notice so you have to keep the home spotless for the whole marketing period. That means dirty dishes washed and put away, clothes put away, and your vacuum cleaner and cleaning cloths ready for action.

Some people will leave town for a while so the agent has free access. Do whatever you have to, to keep sane. It’s only for a relatively short period, and the more effort you put in now, the more likely you’ll be rewarded with a sale you can celebrate. It’s all about beating the competition.

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*This information is not intended as a complete guide, as it doesn’t consider your individual needs or financial situation. Trade Me accepts no responsibility or liability for any inaccuracies or omissions in the content. Always obtain independent legal advice before buying or selling property.