How to prepare your house for an open inspection
Inspections are like a first date. You only get one chance to make that first impression.
Set your property up for inspection success with these simple tips.
1. Clean up
Yes, it’s Captain Obvious, but you’d be surprised. Make sure your whole property is neat and tidy when buyers arrive, including the garden and outside areas.
Dust, vacuum, scrub, wash, buff – make all those annoying tasks earn their keep.
Don’t forget to clean inside ovens, cupboards and wardrobes, in case potential buyers are particularly curious.
Remove shoes from the entrance and any other trip hazards.
Get the big clean out of the way in advance, then keep your place in good condition while your place is on the market. That way, you should only need a refresh to prepare for a new inspection date, rather than a top-to-bottom makeover.
Clear out the mailbox and empty your rubbish bins – and, ideally, move the bins out of sight (especially if they’re normally one of the first things people will see arriving at your home).
Enlist a professional organiser or declutterer if you need a hand, and ask a friend for a second opinion on the quality of your work.
2. Invite light and air
Air out your home thoroughly before the inspection, so it feels as fresh and clean as possible. If potential buyers feel stuffy, they’ll head straight for the door.
If the weather and security permits, crack open a window or two during the inspections themselves, too, so that there’s a steady flow of fresh air.
Draw back curtains and blinds to bring in as much as light as possible and show off your house from the street.
3. Help your pets camouflage
One of the most common complaints from potential buyers at open for inspections are those telltale signs you share your home with someone furry. If they’re not your pets, animal smells or stains can actively turn someone off your property.
Deodorise your property to remove the whiff of little creatures and get someone who doesn’t normally live there to confirm you’re clear (you might be used to it and unable to smell what others can).
Clean traces of hair from floors and furniture, stow feeding bowls and toys, remove any litter boxes or droppings from the yard, and give your pets a vacation during inspections.
4. Add a few personal touches
A personal touch here and there helps your home feel less staged, and will often help prospective buyers to forge an emotional connection with your property.
Fresh flowers are a nice addition, for example, as are inoffensive pieces of art and bowls of sweets near the door that people can dip into on their way out. Bear in mind, though, that too much evidence of your life in the home can often overwhelm buyers and make it hard for them to emotionally connect with the property. It’s about striking a balance between presenting a warm, homely environment and allowing enough mental space for a prospective buyer to imagine themselves living in your home – and often this means stowing away personal photographs.
5. Eliminate nasty odours
People fuss over the visual but often forget that a bad smell can make or break an open inspection.
Remove smells that are unpleasant, like stinky shoes, and watch out for specific foods that may not agree with everyone.
Counter the off-putting smells with flowers, candles, air fresheners or even freshly brewed coffee, but make sure that you don’t go overboard, and avoid pungent aromas like incense. You want your property to smell like a home, not a perfumery.
A home-staging consultant can help with these touches, and can also advise about furniture, artwork and other style elements that will help bring your home to life.
6. Strike the right temperature
Keep an eye on the weather and heat or cool your home so that it’s at an optimal temperature for buyers to walk through.
People shouldn’t raise a sweat or chill, and you need to demonstrate your property can effortlessly cope with the climate around it. You should be aiming to give them a cool or warm blast, depending on what’s most appropriate at that time.
If heating or cooling is malfunctioning and impossible to fix for inspection time, place fans or portable heaters strategically so they don’t get in the way but still do the job.
7. Think about security
Whether you’re attending the inspection or not, you should take care to remove and protect anything precious or valuable before you open your house up to strangers – just in case one of them is light fingered.
Check with your insurers about your coverage for an open inspection, and if you need to do something extra to stay protected.
You can take items with you if you’re leaving the premises for the inspection, or lock them up in a safe or secure cupboard or drawer. If you don’t have an area you can lock away, hide them in the back of a wardrobe or somewhere out of sight.
Agents usually record the details of people coming through your property, to deter thieves and provide some accountability if anything ends up missing or damaged. However, this isn’t a perfect system and shouldn’t be relied upon.
Make sure your property is safe for people to walk through, and only let people into your house at the specified inspection times.
8. Have paperwork ready
Though most buyers don’t get to the negotiating stage during a walk-through, it pays to be ready with all the information a visitor might want.
Work with your agent to ensure that all relevant paperwork (renovation history, pest documentation, approvals for further development) is on display in the property during the inspection – ready to be reviewed or taken home by serious parties.
The less buyers have to ask, the more at ease they’ll feel in the property and the more time they’ll have to imagine themselves in it.
And, just in case someone wants to snap your property up on the spot, you’ll have all you need to make that happen.
9. Make yourself scarce
While your house is getting the once over, you should leave potential buyers to wander your halls unencumbered and relaxed.
Coordinate with your agent and be ready to head out for a short time, taking any other family members or inhabitants with you (including the pets). And have a bag ready so that you can leave quickly in the event of an unplanned inspections.
Don’t forget to do a quick pass through on the way out, clearing away any new messes or misplaced objects, like toys.
If you don’t want to leave entirely, consider setting up an area in the house or yard that can act as your retreat while buyers explore. This way, you’ll be around for a chat if people want to ask about the home or the area, but not so close people feel they can’t browse in peace.