Chances are that you love your home; otherwise, you wouldn’t have bought it. Now that it is up for sale, you’ve got to show others why they will love it too. This is where the open house comes in. According to Indar Lange, owner/real estate agent at Our Home Investments, LLC, the main purpose and benefit of an open house is to give potential buyers the opportunity “to really picture yourself in the home living there before you actually do.” In order for buyers to do this, you must prep your home by cleaning and de-cluttering the interior, and adding curb appeal to make a great first impression. These tips will get you started:

Clean is Best

Lange says that the number one thing homeowners neglect or forget to do before an open house is clean. Your home needs a deep clean before the first interested buyer arrives. Gather your supplies and put on some music to help you get your head in the game. It is best to start with the room in your home that you dread cleaning the most; for most people, this is the bathroom. Spray on cleaning solutions that need time to sit to work their magic first so that you can turn your attention to other tasks, such as scrubbing the toilet or wiping down the mirror. As you move from room to room, set a timer so you don’t spend too much time in one area while also turning your cleaning spree into a fun challenge (this cleaning schedule should help). Be sure to pace yourself, and don’t feel like you need to get everything done in one day. Get the big cleaning tasks done ahead of time, and on the day of the open house, you can do a quick refresh.

Make it Clutter-Free

As you clean your home, take note of the areas that are in major need of some organization. Lange has found that clutter tends to be another thing homeowners neglect. In order for buyers to truly picture themselves in your home, the clutter needs to go. To you it is a cozy, lived in home, while to others, it might be somewhat of a distraction. Start the decluttering process in the kitchen, which will likely be the congregating area during the open house (and the refreshment location). The counters should be cleared of everything but the necessities, such as small kitchen appliances and maybe a candle to add a fresh scent. Resist the urge to pile everything into a closet – buyers will look here too. Since a move will be imminent, perhaps now would be a good time to purge some items. Sort everything into a keep, donate, and sell pile. This will make things a lot easier when it’s time to pack up and move. Also, just a quick tip: If you have pets, it’s a good idea to put away all pet-related items, and relocate your furry friend so that he doesn’t get in the way or cause a ruckus during the open house.

Add Curb Appeal

The interior of your home needs some prep work, but the exterior does too. Spending a little bit of time boosting your curb appeal will make for an excellent first impression. The outside of your home is the first thing a potential buyer will see, and sets the precedent for the entire experience. Make sure your yard is mowed, all weeds are removed, and shrubs are trimmed back. Walk through your yard and pick up any limbs, pet droppings, and toys. In addition to your yard, make sure other exterior components such as the mailbox, house numbers, and front door are looking their best with a fresh coat of paint. Add extra sparkle by cleaning the exterior of your windows to remove dirt and pollen. Consider also giving the walkway a good scrub down to remove layers of dirt and grime.

An open house is your home’s time to shine, so make sure it is in tiptop shape. Dedicate a few days to a week to deep clean and de-clutter your home, and spruce up the exterior too. Once the open house event arrives, spend a day of relaxation away from the home and let your real estate agent capture the sale.