Preparing Your Home for an Open House

Looking to maximize your home sale — especially in a red-hot market? Whether it’s a seller’s market or a buyer’s market, preparing for an open house or showing is a critical step in selling your home. A show-quality house can make a difference in the offers you’ll receive, but much of the prep process requires good ol’ elbow grease. Use this as your checklist to prepare for an open house, and to streamline the whole selling experience.

Planning for Your Open House, Room by Room

The most efficient starting point for preparing for an open house is taking the process room by room. This can help break down the overall plan into manageable sections, strategically considering how to tackle each area.

The Living Room 

Always declutter and clean. Remove excess belongings, knickknacks and personal items from your living room and pack them away. Then, depersonalize what’s left — but don’t remove the style and decor that gives the room character. You’ll want to pare down any decor that is too personal, such as family photos or custom items with your last name. Keep decorative items in your living room to a minimum, while focusing on displaying items in groups of threes.

What else to do in the living room:

  • Clear off your coffee table so there is minimal décor.
  • Add a tray on the coffee table, for keeping small items organized.
  • Use baskets and stylish bins to store items.
  • Neatly fold blankets and throws and put them atop ottomans or display them on the sofa.

The Kitchen

For potential buyers, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home. When it comes to preparing for an open house, take the following steps for a successful showing:

  • Eliminate counter clutter. Remove all small appliances to maximize counter space.
  • Clean out your refrigerator. Buyers may peek inside to see what kind of space they will have inside if they choose your home.
  • Clean out your kitchen cabinets. As with the refrigerator, buyers will want an idea of how much storage space the home has.
  • Make the countertops sparkle. This is especially true for high-end materials such as granite and marble. (Did you know: The best way to clean granite countertops is with a warm water and a mild dish detergent. Do not use vinegar or acidic cleaner.)
  • Clean the floors. Whether you have solid wood flooring or tile, a clean floor is critical to the showing of your home.
cleaning preparing for an open house

The Baths

Once again, the focus is primarily on cleanliness and organization. Consider the following for preparing your baths for showing:

  • The baths should be spotless, including the showers and bathtubs. Disinfect, scrub, and polish until every bath feels like it’s sparkling.
  • Like other areas of your home, remove any personal decor.
  • Pack away all of your personal hygiene items. Don’t leave them out in the shower or on the countertop.
  • Just before a showing, remove any garbage cans and any obvious air fresheners.
  • Neatly stack a few brand-new, bright white towels on the counters or on shelves, to give the baths the air of a luxury spa.

The Main Bedroom and Guest Bedrooms 

Most people spend more than 200,000 hours of their life sleeping, making bedrooms another focal point of your home. When it comes to preparing the bedrooms for an open house, follow this checklist:

  • Clean these all-important spaces from top to bottom.
  • Declutter like you’re Marie Kondo!
  • Pack away any out-of-season clothing and shoes.
  • Edit down your closet to the bare minimum amount of clothing and shoes.
  • Remove most knickknacks and decor.
  • Make your bed to the caliber that you’d expect to find at a fine hotel.

Guest bedrooms should be gone through using this open-house checklist as well. If the guest rooms aren’t used often, make sure you dust them and wipe all surfaces down with appropriate cleaners.


You don’t want to forget about your garage while preparing for an open house. To a lot of buyers, it is a very important space, too!

For your garage, focus on the following:

  • Many people use their garage for storage space or pursuing hobbies. Anything related to those must be cleared away, to showcase the most amount of usable space.
  • If there is too much clutter in your garage and nowhere to put it, put everything in a storage facility.
  • If you have a garage that fits just one car, consider leaving the car inside so buyers know that one car will fit well.

The Front Yard and Backyard

This is as important as anything — maybe the most important — when preparing your home for an open house or showing: Ensure your lawns are in tip-top condition. Potential buyers often drive by a home first, to decide whether to call their agent for a showing — and they also make yes-or-no decisions as soon as they pull up to an open house. Basic lawn maintenance can go a long way, because curb appeal is one of the major factors for a home showing well and selling quickly.

The tried-and-true tips: 

  • Mow your front and back lawns.
  • Take care of weed-whacking.
  • Also weed your flower beds.
  • Plant new flowers and save time by purchasing plants from a greenhouse.
  • Sweep your sidewalks, porches and back patio areas or decks.
  • If a deck is in less-than-best condition, consider repairs and restaining.
  • Tighten up any loose handrails.
  • Swap out old or outdated light fixtures and door handles.
  • Update your old mailbox and add crisp new house numbers.
  • Put some key décor items around your front door, such as a new welcome mat and a seasonal wreath, to make it look — and feel — very welcoming.

People are flocking to the Lone Star State and your home is in demand. If you are ready to sell, rely on this checklist of must-dos for presenting a show-quality home. Our expert agents can guide you through even more ideas, especially ones specific to your home, helping prospective buyers envision themselves in their new forever home — which could well be your current home.

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