What To Do Before a Showing

So you have your house on the market which means you have to make your bed every day and can’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. But in order to compete in this market, there’s more you should be doing immediately prior to a showing. Note: If a house doesn’t show well, it won’t sell well!

Some of these items are from my experience as a REALTOR, but a lot of them are from my own experience as a home owner selling houses!

  1. Vacuum! Even if you vacuumed last night, vacuum every square inch of carpet.EVERY day!
  2. Mop your tile! I use a Swiffer Wet Jet which makes mopping so easy. I highly encourage you to invest in one.
  3. Turn EVERY.SINGLE. light on in the house. Closet lights, hall lights, kitchen lights…EVERY light! The reason this is important is because buyers want to walk into an open and bright home (not a dungeon!). By turning on every light, your buyers’ first impression will be what a bright space. I call this deceptive design- key to staging and showing!
  4. Make it smell good (DON’T use sprays). I don’t light a candle because of safety, but I love using my Scentsy burners & Yankee plug-ins. I choose scents that are homey and welcome (not overpowering). I turn those on about 30 minutes before a showing.
  5. All laundry should be put away (if you’re desperate, throw them in the washer/drawer to get out of sight).
  6. Toys…MUST be gone. While a home is on the market, a majority of the toys should be stored away. Since you’re anticipating a move, it’s a great opportunity to get rid of some and donate. On the day of showings, use toy boxes or under-the-bed containers to store them.
  7. Clean your counters! Wipe off kitchen and bathroom counters. Store appliances (toasters, blenders, etc) in a pantry or cabinet. You should have no more than five items on a kitchen counter and NOTHING but a soap dispenser in the bathroom. The more you have on a counter, the more you’re screaming to your buyer there ISN’T ENOUGH STORAGE. That won’t help you sell your house.
  8. Set the thermostat to a comfortable level. Your buyers don’t want to burn up or freeze to death because they won’t stay in the house long enough to fall in love with it.
  9. Make sure ALL of your toilets are flushed (and the lids are down). If you have children, this probably applies to you more.
  10. Don’t leave your pets out! Duncan, my obese cat, stays in a pet crate during showings. You can also take your pets with you during showings.
  11. Create a property binder. I have created a binder with all of the before pics of the property, progress pics (during demo and mid-remodel), as well as before-and-after pics. I want my buyers to appreciate the significant transformation. I also included all of the warranties in the binder. The final thing to include is a copy of your latest utility bills (black out account info and name). Buyers want to know what to expect in monthly costs.
  12. Don’t forget to pick up clutter OUTSIDE. Sometimes we’re so focused on making sure the interior is picked up, we forget the outside. Are your kids’ toys all over the backyard? Is your husband’s shoes at the backdoor? Is there a dirt trail around the door? All of those things must be addressed. And while we’re on the outside topic, MOW YOUR LAWN. Weed eat too while you’re at it.
  13. Make sure there’s no toothpaste in the sink! Again, this may be more of an issue with kids, but the sink must be spotless!


All of those tips are great, but the best real-life tip I can give you is to keep a Rubbermaid bin by the door. Random, huh?


When you get those last-minute phone calls for showings and you don’t have enough time to do Tips #1-#13, the Rubbermaid will be your friend! Quickly take the Rubbermaid around and pick up whatever is lying around–shoes, stuffed animals, dirty dishes, towels, loose laundry..whatever and toss in the bin. Take the bin with you during the showing. The purpose is a quick, easy way to get rid of the clutter in one convenient, temporary way.

In addition to knowing what TO do, it’s equally as important to know what NOT to do! Here are my tips to avoid during the selling process:

  1. This is my biggest pet peeve! Do NOT stay at the house during the showing. LEAVE. Drive down the street. Go get an ice cream. Go for a run. Sit in a park. BUT LEAVE. Remember, someone is trying to determine if the house is their next HOME, and when you’re there, it’s awkward and feels intrusive. It’s hard to imagine HOME when you’re trying to hurry and get out of someone’s way.
  2. Just because you love your pet, like I love Duncan, doesn’t mean everyone else will or even can. Don’t assume everyone loves cats. Maybe they’re allergic. Clean up daily after your pets and NEVER leave them at the property.
  3. Don’t be high maintenance. The harder you make it to show, the harder it is to sell. Be flexible and accommodating. Remember, this is temporary. Your inconvenience will end at some point and will benefit you in the long run.
  4. Do not leave your garage door up. I think there are obvious reasons why…I mean, is a garage cozy & comforting? No, so don’t make that the first thing buyers see.
  5. Don’t leave doors closed. It makes spaces appear smaller and “off limits.” As with the lights, leave doors open and lights on to create a bright and open space.
  6. Don’t ignore your REALTOR’S advice. They are professionals. If they give you tips, keep in mind- it’s for YOUR benefit. And while we’re on that subject, DON’T do For Sale By Owner. You are significantly limiting your audience by doing that.
  7. Last but not least, don’t overcrowd your house with your stuff. The 13 picture frames lining your mantel? Pack them away. The kid’s drawings taped to their doors? Pack them away. The wall of diplomas and certificates? Pack them away. LESS is more, especially when it comes to personal stuff.You’re moving anyway, so they’re going to have to be packed in the near future anyway.


I honestly feel like I could write a novel on this topic. But those are my main points. We are in prime house-selling season, so I hope this benefits some of my readers!

What tips do you have to prepare for a showing?


2 thoughts on “What To Do Before a Showing

  1. This is such wonderful information for anyone selling, and for realtors to pass along. In the past its crazy how many houses I’ve been through either individual showings or open houses and they are a mess!

  2. great list of tips, Im glad my market is really layed back, and no one does that, untill you get north of $350K and that would be an upper end lake home. Your attention to detail should get you a quick sale. I could not imagine livining in a flip, but may learn in the future, when we decide to winter in a warmenr climate.

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