Get your property "open home ready" in just one morning: A last minute guide

For vendors, an open home can be an unsurprising source of stress. First impressions count, and if you have one weekend to interest as many buyers as possible, it's no surprise that it can cause many property owners to fret.

If, like many, you have left it to just the Saturday or Sunday morning to prepare after a long week at work then have no fear. It is achievable. 

Prior to starting any steps below, do a walk from the kerb to the back of your house and look for any areas requiring urgent attention. Re-prioritise the below tasks if there is something that needs to be looked at immediately.


7am to 8am - Focus on the bigger tasks

External - While you may not have time to weed your entire garden, a 15 minute run around with the mower will work wonders (particularly on the front yard). Pay more attention to your front garden than your back garden, and consider quick fixes - such as moving plant pots to more strategic positions and putting any tools, uglier garden furniture and children's toys into the shed or garage out of sight. If you have an automatic pool cleaner (or a willing teenager) then you should focus on getting any dirt out of your swimming pool when possible.

Internal - Get yourself a box or some black bin liners, one per room, and start a quick de-clutter. Get all pet toys and beds out of the house (put the bags or boxes into the car if you have nowhere else to hide them), and ensure that all bins are emptied. 


8am to 9am - The big clean

It's time to get out your box of cleaning tools and get to work. Vacuum, dust and thoroughly clean areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. A good clean of an average home should take you about an hour. If you have a messier or larger home, expect this to take longer.


9am to 10am - Check for easy fixes

Look for quick internal fixes - If one of the carpets has a stain, then see if you can use a rug to cover it, or if a wall has a mark you cannot remove then consider quickly moving a picture to that spot if appropriate.

Pop to the shops - If you have time and it's nearby, head to your local Bunnings. A new 'welcome' mat, some temporary wall hooks, a cheap lamp or two for the darker rooms in the house and some scented candles are going to be your new best friends. 

Hide - Family photographs, personal or potentially offensive items (use your own discretion here, but remember that some people are more sensitive than others) as well as removing anything that is easily broken - those walking around your home may have little children.


10am to 11am - Best foot forward

Dress your home - Bring out your best towels, linen and table cloths and dress your home by making the beds up nicely and moving ornaments to their best positions. Some even set the dining table with their best china and glassware. Add new toilet rolls in the bathrooms, and hide ugly toilet brushes. If you have new soaps, put them in the bathrooms (or hide the old ones if they are of the bar variety). Make use of what you have. Remember that electrical cords are ugly - if you can unplug and remove appliances, such as in the kitchen, then do so.

Quick note - Ensure you don't leave any valuables or personal information around. While it's unlikely to happen, don't put yourself at risk by leaving phones, fancy electronics, change or cash or keys in easily accessible areas. Also remember not to leave credit cards, handbags, wallets or paperwork. Either take them with you, lock them up or hide them carefully. Medication will also want to be treated with care.


11am to 12pm (one hour until open time!) - Final touches

You have one hour to make a difference. Blinds and curtains should be opened, keep doors open except for bathrooms, the lights should be on and you want your place to look light an airy. Consider burning a nice scented candle, or oil burner (avoid incense as some can be allergic), or another scent. While baking a loaf of bread or making coffee can also smell good, some consider these techniques a little 'fake'.

Check the thermostat or airconditioning. Try to make it as comfortable as possible, and either have the heating or cooling as appropriate. Also consider opening the windows if you are on a quiet street.

Do a walk through - Ensure no doors are locked (including fly screens), make sure you don't leave any candles burning and ensure nothing is out of place.

Let the real estate agent prepare and take your pets, yourself and your family out for a few hours.


If you have longer than this to start preparing for an open home then there are other considerations. Speak to your real estate agent for tips on smaller fix-ups that you can undertake that may make all the difference. Common suggestions include an internal coat of paint, fixing up a driveway, perhaps by painting it, staging the property with furniture brought in from professionals and even bringing in a professional cleaning service.

Property Observer's top tips:

- Remember the senses (what do you smell, hear and see when you walk around your home)

- First impressions count (think about what your home looks like from the kerb - this is your "street appeal") 

- Show off your property's best assets - if it's the garden, then put more of your attention into making this space the best it can be

- The more input you can get yourself from the agent, and the more open homes you can visit yourself to see what works, the better you will be in the long run.

- Remember that some people will open your cupboards, turn on your taps and try to make sure things work. If there's time, ensure cupboards are tidy inside, and try to fix any dripping taps or showerheads.


Top Ten Tips to prepare your home for an open inspection
How to keep your valuables safe when you open your home for inspection 

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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