Last Updated: June 13, 2021

Home Showing Checklist

Written By: Pearce Real Estate

Home Showing and Open House Checklist for Sellers

At Pearce, we have pooled our wealth of expertise to compile a checklist for making your home show ready before you leave your property.   Your agent can help you with suggestions that are specific to your home, lifestyle, and time of year, but helping your home put its best foot forward can help turn showings into offers.  Before your first showing, you’ll want to do a larger decluttering and clean up.  You can find more about preparing your home for the market here. 


a lawn mower cutting the grass

Clean Up Exterior and Landscaping to Create a Good First Impression

Be sure that your lawn is recently mowed (in the spring, summer and early fall), leaves are cleaned up in the fall, and snow is removed from pathways and driveways.  You’ll have already taken care of any exterior window cleaning, power washing or painting in your major market prep, but do a quick check to be sure that window screens are intact, and windows are clean.  Trim back bushes and other landscaping as the season permits, and be sure to not have seasonal decorations up beyond the appropriate season--no Christmas wreaths still hanging up on Valentine’s Day!  Adding some fresh flowers near the entryway can help visitors feel welcome as they first take in your home.

two sorted stacks of folder clothes one to keep one to donate

Unclutter & Clean Up Inside

Be sure your home looks easy to live in and maintain.  Stains, laundry piles, pet hair tumbleweeds under couches, and dishes in the sink make your home look chaotic and uncared for, which tends to have buyers conclude that your home is too much work to maintain on a daily basis.  Try to create a care-free living space by ensuring that you:

  • Vacuum carpets and floors
  • Sweep or lightly mop wood and tile floors with damp cloth
  • Wipe down all surface areas
  • Clean mirrors and windows
  • Make beds
  • Pick up toys and clothes and store neatly
  • Make sure pet areas are clean and odor-free
a woman opening the drapes

Make Your Home Light, Bright & Welcoming

Open drapes and shades to let the sun in and turn on lights to make your home feel as open and bright as possible.  Consider adding some flowers to make your home pleasant-smelling and welcoming, or bake cookies just before the showing to add a welcoming aroma to your home.  Adjust the temperature to make potential buyers comfortable. In the winter you want to be sure that your house is warm, but not too hot;  and in the summer, be sure to run your central air or air conditioning units enough to dry out humidity and cool your home.  Generally, around 70 to 75 will be a comfortable setting for heat or air conditioning.  On nice days, you may wish to open the windows to let some fresh air in.

scented candle and difuser

Neutral, Pleasant Scents Only

Speaking of fresh air, you’ll want to be sure that you have taken out any potentially-stinky garbage.  If you have cats, clean the litter box thoroughly, and take waste to the outdoor trash cans.  And it’s probably best that you don’t cook any spice-heavy food close to the time of the showing so your home doesn’t smell like a BBQ joint, Indian Food restaurant, or other foods that may be delicious, but often leave potential buyers wanting some fresher scents.  Look for neutral, fresh scents if you plan to burn candles or use air freshener. Lemon or light cinnamon scents are generally well-tolerated.  Remember that some people find strong air fresheners and perfumes headache and allergy-inducing. 

A gloved hand cleaning tile with a sponge.

Double Check That Bathrooms and Kitchens are Organized and Sparkling

Make sure the kitchen is clean and empty , and that the bathroom mirrors and sinks are free of toothpaste gunk, among other items.  Wipe down your countertops, kitchen sink, and appliances.   If you have kitchen stools or chairs, be sure no mail or clutter is hiding on them.  Sometimes buyers will sit down to talk about the house, and the kitchen table or island can often be the gathering point, especially if that is where you leave your informational folder. If your bathrooms have linens stored in them, fold towels and sheets neatly. Remove hair, soap scum and mildew from showers and baths. Be sure toilets are flushed and lids are down.  Clear off personal toiletries from sinks and vanities, and wipe down mirrors, sinks and faucets.

a woman making the bed

Make Your Beds & Put Clothes Away Neatly

Unmade beds and messy closets are big turn-offs.  Messy or cluttered closets say to potential buyers, “this home doesn’t have enough room for your clothes,” among other things.  Again, you will take care of some of the closet decluttering in your initial big sweep of your home as you get it ready to put it on the market.  But as you do laundry and put clothes away, do so neatly, hanging clothes and folding sweaters neatly on shelves.  Potential buyers will definitely open your closet doors, and even though they won’t be sleeping in your bed, making your bedrooms look neat and welcoming makes bedrooms appear a comfortable place to get some zzz’s. 

a small dog looking out of a doorway

Arrange for Your Pets to Be Out of Home

By ensuring your pets are out of the home when showings happen you avoid unexpected accidents and unpleasant smells and keep your pet(s) safe. It may not be comfortable for your pet to have potential buyers in your home without you there, and not all buyers are comfortable with animals, so it could be an uneasy experience for all, and risk losing a potential sale of your home.

a couple looking at a home brochure

Make It Easy for Potential Buyers to Learn About Living in Your Home and Neighborhood

Create a property folder for potential buyers to flip through and leave it in plain sight.  It should contain information about recent improvements made to your home, MLS profile, the cost of utilities, property surveys (if applicable), neighborhood offerings and amenities, and other details that make your home desirable.

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Talk to an expert

Contact our office for more expert advice and to receive a printable PDF checklist to help with getting your house ready for showings.