Showings, Open Houses and Safety

A buyer wants to see your home. Let’s build a simple checklist that will keep you organized and focused.

  1. Turn on all the lights, open all the blinds.
  2. Tidy up and put away things like magazines and toys.
  3. If you have time, the aroma of something freshly baked makes a big difference.
  4. Open all the interior doors to create a tour path, not a series of roadblocks.
  5. Vacuum the carpets and make the beds.
  6. Make sure toilets and sinks are clean and the lids are down.
  7. Put all dirty dishes in the dishwasher, no dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.
  8. Set the table with your best china.
  9. Dress like this is important.
  10. Greet your guests at the door and invite them in.
  11. If you like, you can offer them refreshments.
  12. Guide them through the home, remember to stay out of the rooms. You block the view.


Showing a home is a bit of an art. You must learn to be friendly and informative without giving away too much information. Buyers are looking to make a connection not only with the house but with you and the neighbourhood. Do not be afraid to talk about your great neighbours, schools and amenities in the area. Also remember, if you know of any latent defects you are required by law to disclose them to potential buyers at the earliest possible opportunity. This is likely the time.

Latent Defects are problems with the property that are not readily seen or found. For example, there is a crack in the basement wall, but it is hidden because the basement has been developed. If you know it is there you are legally bound to disclose it. It is highly recommended that you have an open discussion with your lawyer as to whether any issues could be perceived as latent defects.

People always want to know why you are selling. A great answer is, “We’re buying a bigger/smaller house,” and leave it at that. Something like, “We want to get away from the noisy crows who nest in the big tree out back,” isn’t a really good answer.

You may also need to deal with smells and odours. We get used to certain things in our lives. In housing it is cooking smells. Ethnic cooking or strong-smelling foods like onions may leave a distinct odour that some find unpleasant. There are several ways to eliminate these including leaving windows open, ionization and some good old-fashioned room de-odourizers.

Conducting an Open House works the same way. Refreshments such as cookies, bottled water, coffee, tea, juice boxes or wrapped hard candies are a nice touch.

Be Safe. Not everyone is interested in buying your home. Make sure you put valuables away, if you have expensive art, store it somewhere and have cheaper prints or figures in your home instead. Keep the buyers together if they come as a group and make sure you have a clear escape route. Leave doors unlocked so you can get out easily.

If your house is clean and bright and you are friendly and adaptable, your house should not take long to sell. Remember that people’s plans change, sometimes very quickly. If the buyer must cancel, be professional about it. It’s not personal. Your plans may change too. If you must cancel a showing, please inform the buyer as quickly as possible.