When you give up something you love, such as selling your first car or a designer bag, you want to make sure that the next owner will love it as much as you did. And you definitely want the best offer. Stakes are even higher when your clients are selling their homes. The home is an extension of who they are, and they want the next owner to feel its value.

Whether you are an owner or real estate agent, attracting prospective buyers can be difficult. Selling a house is not easy. After all, this is not garage sale — it’s a lifetime investment.

In the study of 16 emerging countries, including the Philippines, global property website Lamudi found that house hunting has shifted from offline to online. Nearly 90 percent of agents said the Internet is now part of the initial hunting stage. However, no one really buys a property just by seeing pictures online. An open house is still necessary.

Prospective buyers need to see the place — from its location, neighborhood, interiors and other features. The process of house hunting will still get down to showing the buyer around the house, so make sure you and your client do some home flips before walking them through. As soon as you pin that “For Sale” sign, online or offline, buyers and inquiries will start pouring in. Be ready to impress.

Here are the top five things you and your client need to do before an open house:

1. Make sure everything is spotless

Clean up before the big day. When people walk into your house, make sure they know how well your client took care of it through the years. Give them the impression that it is indeed a special home. One survey in Canada showed that uncleanliness is the top turnoff for 60 percent of home hunters. So, when you are showing a bare unit, make sure the paint on the walls looks fresh, and make sure that you don’t have popcorn ceilings.

Tell your client to let go of their child’s precious drawings on the wall. Make sure there are no cracked tiles, the bathroom is spotless, the built-in cabinets are not falling off and even the dirty kitchen is clean. It is a big plus if buyers see that there are no repairs — major or minor — necessary. Before the open house, repair all broken faucets and sinks. All doors should open and close effortlessly, and the window screens should not be torn. Those quick fixes pay off.

2. Give it a makeover

When a house is really worn out, you might want to consider giving it a makeover first. Update the features of the house with a few home renovations. Focus on the kitchen and the master bedroom, which are the two rooms that really sell houses according to an article on Time.com. Real estate blogger Michael Corbett says updating the kitchen countertop and adding cabinet pulls are not pricey but guarantee big returns.

Opening up the kitchen makes the house look bigger and gives a better flow to the entire house. Corbett warns against overimproving. Before knocking down walls, think about the home flips that will pay off. Adding a window, a breakfast bay with a view, and more built-in cabinets and storage in the bedrooms are all pluses. A new vanity mirror or better lighting will work wonders in the bathroom.

3. Go eco with interiors

When you are going through your many redesign ideas and options, consider going eco-friendly. Making the interiors eco-friendly is a good investment because going green and sustainable are not just trends, but a lifetime commitment for years to come. Going eco with home designs is not at all that expensive; you just need to have a basic know-how of how to go about it. One way to do this is to let the sunlight in. If you have no budget to add a window, at least open the shades and drapes, then lecture a little bit about reducing electric bills and preventing emission of pollutants inside the house.

During home renovation, use organic and natural materials such as wood, stone and eco-friendly paint. Use a more energy-efficient lighting. Add a few indoor plants to give color and vibrancy.

4. Be ready with questions

Buyers will ask about everything. How breezy and sure you answer these questions make for a successful open house. You have to know lots of things. What kind of wood paneling was used? When was the last time the water heater was replaced? How far is the grocery store and the mall? How do you get around town? They will ask about security in the area and whether it is flood-prone. They will ask about the nearest service providers in the area such as telephone or Internet. Anticipate all possible questions and be ready for an answer. Don’t forget to mention why it is a good investment and why it is perfect for a growing family or whatever their lifestyle is. Be ready to give payment options, too. It is also advised to prepare any required paperwork such as the certificate of title and tax payments in case the buyer wants to look at it.

5. Deal with a DVD

The star is, of course, your house. If pictures are worth a thousand words, imagine what a video tour can do. Instead of just giving away fliers with price computations, give prospective buyers a DVD of your house as a souvenir. Ask them to go over it once again.  It could be sweeter the second time around. Selling a home is a big move. Imagine the years invested to make it comfortable and charming. Imagine the time you spent in making it a personal space. In every corner is a memory, so preserve it the best way you can for your clients. Give the prospective buyer the same feeling you had when your client thought of buying it themselves. Get the best offer because that’s what their home deserves.

Jona Jone is a former mortgage originator in Philadelphia; she’s a business and property specialist who writes about real estate investment, business, parenting and living at Vistage Executive Street Blog.

Email Jona Jone.

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