How to host a good open home inspection: Experts weigh in

October 10, 2017

our house is on the market – congratulations! But just because the “for sale” sign is out the front and your property is listed online and in the paper, your work is far from done.

The inspection is the make or breaks part, where the image seen online or on the placard on your front fence is tested out by potential buyers, and if your home doesn’t live up to it, you can forget about making a sale.

Hire professionals

Getting a professional stylist in can help provide objective advice on how best present your home for its campaign.

“Staying objective is the most important aspect of your campaign. Most owners can’t take themselves out of the equation to see clearly what needs to be done,” says Megan Bruton of BresicWhitney’s Hunters Hill office.

“The professional stylist gives you ‘intel’ from the coalface of successful property presentation,” says Katie Moriarty of BresicWhitney Darlinghurst. Use it.”

Sometimes an external party is required to remind you that no matter how adorable your children are, prospective buyers don’t want to see them.

“Often everything’s already been presented really well and they’ve gotten rid of clutter but often it’s about taking away personal items as well so people can come and visualise their own items in the house,” says Joanne Royston, director of RT Edgar Williamstown/Yarraville.

Yep, that’s right, it means taking down your family photos, kids’ paintings on the fridge, and anything else that makes your house identifiably “yours” and less “theirs”.

Make yourself scarce

It’s also advised to make yourself and your family scarce for inspections – and that includes your pet dog, cat or guinea pig (the goldfish can probably stay).

“We could have 25 or 40 groups through, so up to a 100 people sometimes coming to an inspection at any one time,” says Royston.

Occasionally, sticking around is a “good process”, says Royston – vendors can get valuable feedback on their home and are on hand to answer questions, but it can be fraught with peril. What if they ask a prickly question about what your neighbours are like (loud, obnoxious) and you’ve got a terrible poker face? Or if they make an insensitive comment about your home that you might take to heart?

Often it’s best to just get out of the way and get your place looking as pristine as possible, just as when you were preparing it for the photo shoot – with a few additional items to tick off the list.

The great (clean) outdoors

Use this time to pay some much-needed attention to your outdoors. Move your cars out of the driveway and down the street, suggests Mark Eddy of Hodges Mentone. A lot of it’s pretty obvious stuff – mow the lawn, take the washing off the line, rake leaves, weed the garden and move bins out of the way. Take the creepy crawly out of the pool if you have one. But you’ll also want to check outdoor lights – these might be tested – and make sure all indoor lights and lamps are working while you’re at it.

“Get the windows cleaned,” says Royston, “and if you’re selling in summer have the air-con on, or turn the heaters on if it’s winter. If you’ve got an open fireplace, use it! It’s about utilising all the facilities a home has.” And don’t forget to open all the blinds and shutters – let the light in!

Engage the senses

Engage all the senses, too – remember the aim is to make your house feel as homely as possible.

“Scents and smells are really important,” says Royston.

“Whether it’s candles or if it’s an early morning inspection, baking muffins before you leave, or making sure you’ve bought some fresh flowers,” she says.

A silent house lacks mood, so she suggests some jazz or easy listening music. If you’ve got a big-screen TV or entertaining area, Eddy suggests putting something kid-friendly on to entertain any children who might have tagged along to the inspection.

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