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10 Ways to prepare for a showing

By | Published: Oct 14, 2009 | 27 Comments

An agent left a message on your voice mail. She will be at your home, buyers in tow, in less than forty five minutes. Sound the alarms, all homeowners to battle stations, you are about to encounter a showing appointment!

Oddly enough, buyer showings seem to occur more often than not at the worst possible times. So what do you do when you need to prepare for a showing without a lot of time? Let's take a look at 10 ways to prepare for a showing:

  1. Mini mop ups

    Sweep the kitchen, bathroom, and entry way. If needed, use a cleaning towel or sponge to clean any spots or debris.

  2. Dust the furniture

    A quick wipe down of the furniture, TV screens, and computer monitors can help make each room shine.

  3. Clean off counters

    All counters should be clean and clear. Remove clutter as well - small appliances, knick knacks, and odds and ends should be stored.

  4. Beds made

    All the beds in the home should be made. If your bed spreads are faded, dated, torn, or ripped consider updating them with new covers.

  5. Garbage cans empty

    All garbage cans need to be empty. Also wash them out once a week and give them a quick spay of disinfectant to cut down odors.

  6. Carpets vacuumed

    Give the carpets a quick once over to fluff them up. Focus your efforts on the entry and living room.

  7. Lights on

    A dark home is gloomy. Turn on all the lights in the home, and open drapes and blinds to brighten the home. Also be sure your windows are clean.

  8. Load the dishwasher

    Clear the dishes off the counters by loading the dishwasher but don't start the cycle if it will be running during the showing.

  9. Load the washer and dryer

    Clothes should be picked up and either placed in a hamper or loaded into the washer or dryer. Again don't start the cycle if it will be running during the showing.

  10. Pick up every room

    Work backward from the entry point of the home to the furthest bedroom picking up everything up off the floors and counter surfaces.

Wow you have a lot to do in forty five minutes! Not to worry - if you can get the entire household to pitch in to help (bribery is a great motivator) you will be amazed at what you can get done in a short amount of time. Also don't be afraid to pick your battles. If you can't do everything, do the most important things first and if you're lucky the agent might even be late!


By ,  Thu Dec 24 2009, 16:19
If you have a litter box, clean it out. Put in a lite scent air freshner.
By C & A,  Wed Feb 3 2010, 18:41
We're currently selling and we clean the house to "showing" shape the night before. Setting aside one hour each night to clean everything up, run a load of dishes and/or laundry really helps to make any potential showing less frantic.
By Susan Gobrial,  Fri Feb 19 2010, 04:19
Also make sure the grase is cut and the outside of the house is neatly looking, if you have pets please put them in a cage for I know some people will not go in a house because they are afraid of dogs or cats.
By Johnny Yankoviak,  Sat Mar 20 2010, 15:54
If you house smells, your neighbors sells.

If you have to leave all the windows open for the entire weekend, it is still better then the dreaded "what's that smell" question from a homebuyer.
By Debbie Scrimshire,  Tue Jun 8 2010, 21:28
I have had great success recommending a cleaning crew to come in and clean from the ceiling to the floor. Old fashioned SPRING CLEANING !! 5 hard workers can get ceiling fans, windows, baseboards, refrigerators, ovens, all cleaned in a day to sparkling. Just tell your sellers "they charge by the hour and they clean EVERYTHING so if you don't like it enough to pay to have it cleaned , GET RID OF IT BEFORE YOU HIRE THEM !! That really encourages purging prior to the cleaning. Of course I also take a stager to my initial appointment most of the time.
By Rick & Donna Hamblen,  Mon Jul 12 2010, 09:09
De-cluttering and staging a home BEFORE you put your home on the market will get you off to a great start for when your home is listed and showings start to occur. As for preparing for showings, sparkling clean kitchens & baths, eliminating odors, & well lit rooms are the most critical things you can focus on to ensure a good showing. And by all means, don't forget to put your dirty laundry out of site & make your beds. Too often we go into homes that stink, are too dark (all the blinds & window dressings are pulled closed & lights aren't on) and are dirty making a horrible 1st impression. You'll never get a buyer back once you've lost them to a bad impression and the agent who showed the home will remember the awful smells and the clutter and the dirt and will share that with future prospects. Toiletries strewn all over your bathroom counters & dressers don't look good either. If necessary, purchase wicker baskets, hat boxes, or small decorative containers/trunks to store your toiletries in or simply throw them into a plastic container/laundry basket & take it with you when you leave home for work, a trip, etc. If you got kids, make a contest out of keeping rooms clean & beds made or reward them before or after the sale for removing posters, photos, etc. Vacuum & dust your home at least once per week -- more if you have children & pets. And finally, we all love our children, our pets, our families & friends but people aren't coming to your home to see them. They are there to see your home which became a product the day the sign was placed in your yard. People need to remember your home not your photos, not your stuff, not your smells. There's simply too many homes out there to choose from. If yours isn't presentable, there's sure to be another one that is. If your mornings (or the time you prepare to leave for work) is nutty, then get in the habit of getting your home ready at night before going to bed. Or simply fill a laundry basket with the things you want & need to get out of site and throw it in the truck of your car when you leave or in the garage and throw a towel over it.
By John Giordano,  Tue Sep 14 2010, 21:49
A quick deodirizing or neutralizing aerosol spray around the home helps with first impressions as well. Also, for fire prevention, I recommend blowing out any scented candles before leaving your home.
By trulia,  Thu Sep 30 2010, 15:03
Here are two of my tricks: Have a laundry basket in each room. Stash all the clutter in the laundry basket and put it under the bed or in the closet. Get some furniture polish with real lemon oil. Wipe selected baseboards lightly. Your house will smell clean. I NEVER use air fresheners or scents except very faint neutral scents on occasion. People think you are hiding something.
By Fran Rokicki,  Thu Jan 6 2011, 10:16
I advise my listing clients, to bake an apple pie, or a cake. The home smells wonderful for the showing!
By Constance Crawford,  Mon Jun 13 2011, 11:19
These items are a MUST to increase your ability to get a Contract Offer within the first (30) days of listing etc. I recommend to all my Listing Clients as Step 1.
By Greg Garrett,  Mon Aug 29 2011, 11:44

 A clean house sells faster!
 Make sure bathrooms and kitchen are spotless!
 The first impression a buyer gets is your yard. Keep the lawn mowed and flower beds neat.
 Keep the sidewalk swept and the front door area clean.
 Open all curtains and blinds
 Turn on all the lights.
 Eliminate all clutter.
 Have candles glowing.
 Have a wonderful aroma of (for example) apple pie baking. This can be done by putting a drop of vanilla extract on a warm stove burner. Turn the burner to warm it, turn it off and then put in the drop of vanilla.
 Try to be out of the house for all showings if possible.
 Secure your pets and / or put up visible signs about their location.
 Get a card from the agent and forward the information to 757-879-2368 so she can get any feedback.
 If you have a security system in your home we suggest the following:
o Remove any valuables from your home and have a family member / friend hold them during the market time. You could also consider a safety deposit box or other secure location.
o Consider keeping the system OFF while you are away from the home – it is a proven deterrent to agents wanting to show the property if they have to call for codes or set alarms off. Please continue to use your system for the safety of your family while you are at home.
By Maureen Byers,  Mon Aug 29 2011, 14:11
All the basics are covered here except the vibe and feeling of the realty, . When I research list, buy, sell, tour, stage, inspect etc, I am attracted to homes that people really do actually live in! Unless vacant which many are with foreclosures, rentals, n fixer/flips these days, I think that each property can create a interesting setting that is condusive to a new owner. The feeling that a buyer is inspired by maybe produced by our vision or attitude on the potential, some realistic marketing fotos, but low-priced homes and location can motivate the buyer beyond smell or dirt I've found.
By Shawn Ryan Rosa,  Tue Dec 13 2011, 10:28
To sum up the article: keep your home clean.
By Lolita Hayes,  Fri Mar 16 2012, 16:57
Great advice and lots of work! I'm in the market and my big turn-offs are: any animal odor or debris (litter boxes & fur, esp! Dog leavings in yard). Best to put animal in shelter or at a friend's. Basement odor (mold, mildew): bad!
Cold houses in winter or hot houses in summer are also uncomfortable. People w/Allergies + asthma won't spend the time to look at the house if they can't breathe! Get rid of dust, mold, pet hair and turn on the AC or pull the shades & open windows.

All this talk of potpourri, air fresheners and baking stuff is okay UNLESS a potential buyer has chemical sensitivity, so ask! Better to keep an air filter running to get rid of dust and odor.

Also, I am much more concerned with loud noises and junk from neighbors, than with wall color or updated faucets; I can control the latter but neighbors can be a real pain. It's worth it to negotiate w/them to tidy up yards and not blast stereos, chainsaws or dirt bikes, for instance. I'd focus on this before worrying too much about staging.

When I look at a home, I'm able to imagine my things in an empty place, but it's harder with lots of big or ugly furniture, or even with an obviously staged room and nice furniture I don't necessarily have.
By Adam King,  Wed May 2 2012, 23:00
Road noise it's near my house. didn't bother us or our neighbors. We did all of the good stuff.The buyers loved the neutral colors, openness, 3 car garage , lots of sf . being in a cul de sac/ very close to the lake,school, park. The road noise was our downfall. We never noticed it couldn't hear it in the winter a high berm and snow. We put the house up for sale in June, after 9 months , we took it off the market.
By Matie,  Tue Jun 26 2012, 05:07
There's simply too many homes out there to choose from. If yours isn't presentable, there's sure to be another one that is. If your mornings (or the time you prepare to leave for work) is nutty, then get in the habit of getting your home ready at night before going to bed. Or simply fill a laundry basket with the things you want & need to get out of site and throw it in the truck of your car when you leave or in the garage and throw a towel over it.

By Sona Gallatin,  Sat Aug 18 2012, 13:09
Remove personal belongings. Clutter makes a buyer want to go through the house quickly and that's not what you want when your trying to sell your home. Show clutter free and clean!
By opondomusa,  Sat Oct 27 2012, 03:01
Great tips for a quick fix.
No Time for Renovations? Here's more on How to Stage Your Home:

By Stevens & Manley,  Sun Jan 20 2013, 07:00
It is so important to show your house at it's best potential! It is a very competive market and not all buyers can visualize what they cannot see. Wonderful tips!
By Cathy Browne,  Tue Jan 21 2014, 06:24
These are all such great ideas! I always have my sellers keep a lemon or fresh scent cleaner in a spray bottle handy. When you know you are having a showing soon, spray down the kitchen counters. Buyers like to come in and smell a house that seems to have just been cleaned. Sellers should plant colorful flowers near the door and get a NEW doormat! The curb appeal is the first thing buyers see when we drive up. Get rid of old bath mats, door mats and rugs!
By Judi Monday, CRS,  Fri Apr 11 2014, 08:45
Fill the home with as much natural light as possible...open the blinds and let the sun shine in.
By Jay Taylor,  Fri Apr 25 2014, 03:43
Having a clutter free room is one of the best ways of giving a lasting first impression to your prospective buyer. Secondly, having a beautiful garden with some bright flowering plants and good patio furniture can work wonders and get you favorable results.
By Will Johnson,  Sat Nov 1 2014, 14:43
I agree, good tips! I would also add opening the blinds/curtains. This makes the home appear more welcoming from the outside and bigger on the inside. And it brightens up the place!
By djennifer009,  Fri Nov 14 2014, 19:31
I agree, but I'd recommend good patio furniture as well. That's something you don't have to constantly clean, and it can really add to the first impression of a home. I don't think my house would have sold without it!
Jenn | http://www.esimplyu.com
By Mark Saunders,  Tue Feb 3 2015, 11:01
Your home needs to be bright and clean / air fresh
By Bob,  Mon Jan 25 2016, 13:07
This is awesome advice on how to set up for a showing, I will definitely use your tips. Thanks for the post!

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