During the current COVID-19 pandemic, real estate agents are working hard to show and sell homes while keeping their clients safe and abiding by new social distancing rules.
In California, real estate agents are no longer allowed to show open houses in-person. Because of this, San Diego real estate agents have adapted to hosting virtual open houses.
What is a Virtual Open House?
A virtual open house uses live stream video to share your home with potential buyers. If you’re working with a real estate agent to sell your home, it’s essential to learn how to stage a virtual open house successfully.
There are a lot of factors to consider when hosting a virtual open house. Good lighting, controlling your pets, cleaning reflective surfaces, and more can all contribute to the success of your virtual open house.
If you’re considering holding your first virtual open house, here are seven of my favorite tips on how to host a great virtual open house.
1. Clean Reflective Surfaces
Of course, it’s important to clean your whole home before an open house. But don’t forget the reflective surfaces. Mirrors and windows often go overlooked during cleaning, but their reflective surfaces are extra noticeable on camera and can look dingy if not adequately cleaned.
Stainless steel is another reflective surface that is often overlooked. Sinks, faucets, appliances, and anything else in your home made of stainless steel could look dingy or stained if not cleaned well beforehand.
To effectively clean stainless steel, you can make a quick and inexpensive cleaning solution with vinegar and olive oil or dish soap and baby oil. Or, you can purchase products specifically designed to clean stainless steel.
Never use steel wool or other abrasive materials, and avoid chlorine or chlorine-based cleaners.
Kitchen countertops can be polished with a simple mix of water and rubbing alcohol. And you can remove stubborn stains with baking soda and water paste.
Paying attention to these small details will boost your virtual open house from an A to an A+.
2. Reduce Clutter
Nothing ruins an open house as much as unnecessary clutter. Disorganization and excess “stuff” can make a home look unappealing and can cause it to feel smaller than it actually is.
This is especially true for a virtual open house. Because viewers are limited to looking at your home through a screen, it is harder for them to properly judge the size of the space, so reducing clutter is particularly important.
Think about electronics cables and cords, and tidy these a much as possible. Children’s toys and pet toys should be out of sight. Newspapers and magazines should be recycled or stored out of sight.
Clear countertops and tables as much as possible. Stow away excess kitchen appliances and items like coffee makers and dish soap. The key is for your home to look as spacious and neat as possible.
In the living areas, it’s a good idea to remove personal items like photographs. Removing personal items can make potential buyers feel more at home and can help them visualize their own personal items in the space.
3. Have Proper Lighting
Lighting your video stream properly is a crucial part of making your home look as desirable as possible.
Inadequate lighting can create dark shadows that pull focus to certain corners, and bad lighting throughout can even disrupt the video’s color balance, making your home look yellow- or blue-ish.
Make sure to do a room-by-room light audit by opening all the curtains and turning on all the lights. You may need to purchase some extra lighting to illuminate dark corners or shadowy spaces.
Do a run-through of your house on video, so you can check how each room’s lighting appears on camera. Even if you have lots of windows and abundant natural light, it’s wise to be prepared for a cloudy day on the day of your virtual open house.
4. Have a Plan for Disruptive Pets
Your pets are part of your family, but if they are loud or rowdy, they can disrupt a virtual open house tour.
Consider arranging a dog or cat sitter for the time of your virtual open house. A barking dog will make it difficult to answer questions on your live stream, and a cat that loves to jump all over your kitchen counters might not be as cute to potential buyers as it is to your family.
For smaller pets like rodents and birds, make sure their cage is clean, and their accessories are neatly stored away.
5. Don’t Forget Closets and Storage Areas
While you focus on decluttering and lighting your home’s main rooms, don’t forget to tidy your closets and pantry. Buyers typically want to see everything during an open house, even a virtual one. And showing all your closet and storage space is a big plus for potential buyers.
It’s a good idea to thin out what’s in your closet. Full closets look smaller. If you can reduce the number of clothes hanging in your closet (even if you just tuck extra clothing under the bed), your closets will appear more spacious.
For clothes closets, leave about an inch of space between clothes, and clear the floor of any loose items. Make sure your potential buyers can see the whole closet space. If you want to go that extra mile, you can even group clothes by color, making everything appear neat and clean.
Storage closets should be arranged neatly and also thinned out if possible. If you’re struggling to make space, try organizing your items in storage bins.
For your pantry, use matching storage containers for a consistent appearance, and consider wiping down the walls or even giving it a fresh coat of paint.
And if you don’t have good lighting, or any lighting, in your storage areas, a simple bulb or lamp will go a long way to help your potential buyers see the full potential of your closets.
6. Map Out Your Route
One of the most important steps to staging a virtual open house is developing a plan of action. Unlike an in-person open house, where potential buyers will wander the rooms as they please, in a virtual open house, you control what everyone sees the entire time.
Do a walkthrough of your house, making sure you can easily walk from one room to the next, and the best spot for you to take video from is clear, and you can easily maneuver around your house without obstacles.
This is another reason to make sure loose chords and toys are out of the way.
7. Have a Dress Rehearsal
Practice makes perfect, so after you declutter your home, check your lighting, and clear a walkthrough path, stage a dress rehearsal with friends or family watching the tour and giving feedback.
This will help you determine what works and what doesn’t. A dress rehearsal can help you identify any smudgy mirrors, spaces that look cluttered on camera, hard-to-reach closets, bad lighting, and more.
Plus, a dress rehearsal using the video service you will use for the virtual open house can help you iron out any technical issues before the real thing.
Staging Your Virtual Open House
Staging your home for a virtual open house can be a lot of work, but once you’ve established a solid plan and covered all your bases, you’ll be set up for success.
Don’t forget the little details like polishing countertops and cleaning faucets. You want to make your home as appealing and spacious-looking as possible.
Selling your home is a big undertaking, and choosing an experienced real estate agent is a vital part of the process.
Mike Myers is passionate about real estate and has the experience and expertise to exhibit your home to its fullest potential.
With years of experience in the San Diego real estate market, Mike Myers handles the entire process of selling your home, from start to finish, and works tirelessly to get clients the best possible offer.
If you’re ready to connect with a real estate agent in San Diego who will treat your sale like his very own, contact Mike today.