House and Home

7 Open House Mistakes Sellers Make


When a potential buyer walks into an open house, what does he or she look for? We went to home staging expert Barb Schwarz who put it plainly and simply: buyers want bright, clean rooms void of clutter. Sounds easy enough, but one man's treasures can be another man's trash (or vice versa). Regardless, Schwarz shared her seven biggest open house no-nos that can scare away potential buyers, sometimes without even seeing the inside of your home!

  • ClutterClutter = equity. Piles of clutter eat up space, making your house look smaller. Plus, the act of moving requires you to purge much of your clutter anyway, so it's best to get it out of the way! 
  • DirtGoing to an open house is like going on a first date. You'll notice all of the imperfections. The home should be "Q-Tip Clean," meaning every crevice should be spotless, including the toilet, the faucets, any light switch plates, the windowsills and the walls, among other things. 
  • BillsIf a potential buyer sees that you owe $3000, he'll think, "Oh, this person must be desperate to sell!" This will make the buyer less apt to bid up on your home. Put all personal papers and bills in baskets with lids or in drawers. 
  • PhotosPhotos are family wallpaper. You don't pay attention to them, but buyers will, and every second they're looking at your pictures, they aren't looking at your house. 
  • SmellsIf your house smells bad, people will turn around and leave. This should be of particular concern to smokers and people with pets. Make sure to air out your home and light scented candles if necessary. 
  • Extreme TemperatureYour house should be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If a house is too hot or too cold, the potential buyer will dash for the door as soon as possible. 
  • Messy ExteriorYou can't sell it if you can't see it! Go across the street and look at your house from your neighbor's home. Is the paint job intact? Are the shutters secure? What does the roof look like? Make sure the lawn is mowed, the trees and bushes are trimmed. and the garbage barrels are stored in the garage or out of view. Spray off residual dirt from the side of your house and walkways.