First impressions are everything.

In fact, it’s really all a home seller gets.  You have one chance to show a buyer your house before he or she moves on to the next one.  Give them something to remember you by and they’ll be back; underwhelm them and your home will become nothing more than a forgotten step in their house-hunting process.

Obviously, you need something of substance to offer in the house itself.  Whether you have a modest bungalow, a split-level ranch, or a sprawling mansion, bring it to the highest level of repair you can comfortably afford.  Whatever you can’t or don’t wish to address regarding its faults, acknowledge upfront at the appropriate time.  Above all, make sure your asking price realistically reflects the true value of the house as-is.

That stated, when opening your doors to the public, you want to go for the “wow”.  There’s got to be some way to grab viewers’ attention.  Perhaps a unique piece of furniture or expensive rug will do the trick?  Maybe you can reel them in with a carefully chosen centerpiece or other piece of home décor.  What is the magical “must-have” for showings?

While you can never know how different people will react to different points of attraction, the basics are always a good place to start.  Great light, fresh paint, hand-picked pieces of furniture and a minimum of personal possessions often create a sense of space and cleanliness.  A signature focal piece can set the vision for the entire house tour.  Many sellers opt for mirrors.  Striking in their own right, they have the added benefit of giving rooms a larger feel.   A stunning chandelier or stylish light fixture against a neutral background frequently draws questions regarding whether the fixtures are included.  Such responses lend valuable insight into the buyer’s intentions, something every seller wants to know.

Unfortunately, the line between a must-have and a distraction can be hard to discern.  Personal taste definitely comes to bear.  The same piece of home furnishing may give one person palpitations of joy and send another running for the nearest window.  Though you have limited ability to anticipate a strangers reactions, a sound rule of thumb is to keep it simple.  Steer clear of outrageous art or confusingly designed carpets.  Debating what something is, or what it means is not a positive home tour result for the seller.  Most buyers just want to see themselves and their families in a home; anything that obscures that vision is a distraction and a drain on their energy.

One must-have every seller needs at their open house is attention to smell.  The best scent you can have in your house is no scent at all.  A seller would rather have no comment on the smell of their house than have buyers trying to guess the scent of the candle you are burning (talk about distractions!).

Another must-have is silence.  Many sellers try to create a soothing atmosphere by playing light jazz or classical music through their speaker system.   It may sound great to the seller, but there is no accounting for how it will fall on the buyer’s ears.  If you want to give your house a relaxing air, try to achieve it with staging and furnishing, not with music.  Silence really is golden!

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