As we gear up for the holiday season, the collective office is on party overload: there’s always at least one dessert next to the coffee pot, scented candles burning throughout the day, and watercooler talk has shifted to caterers and floral arrangements. Luckily, open houses are very similar to holiday parties, so here are our tips of the trade from the Judge Realty creative director to give both your party and your home optimal face value.
When selling a home or hosting a party, guests remember the first and last element the most: what was the first thing they saw/smelled and what were the parting words or gifts. Create an intimate feeling regardless of the size of the house or party by taking advantage of an old real estate trick: stove top potpourri. From the second potential homebuyers step inside, the home should feel intoxicating- more so than a home, you’re selling them the idea of what it would be like to live there. Throw your favorite spices and fruits into a pot and let it simmer, it will work better than a scented candle and create the illusion of a warm, freshly cooked in kitchen.
However, more specific to open houses, avoid citrus of any kind as most people associate those smells with cleaning products, which can be a little off putting. I recommend a small pine branch, cranberries, cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and fresh pomegranate juice.
Unlike a holiday party, at an open house you don’t want to go overboard with flowers; however, it’s a good way to steer the eye to more enticing and marketable views. Selling a home is just like a job interview: focus on the good, distract from the bad. If there’s a not so pleasing cosmetic issue, place a bouquet or two on the opposite side of the room, leading the eye to more appealing focal points like an original fireplace or built-in bookshelf. It’s basic sales at that point. Also keep in mind that, despite what your personal taste may be, certain flowers give a home a more inviting feeling. I recommend hydrangeas and garden roses for open houses, they always look clean and elegant. And if you know your thumb isn’t exactly green, opt for a pre-made arrangement (my favorite is Putnam and Putnam).
Light. I can’t stress light enough for both parties and open houses. Yes, you want potential homebuyers to see how beautiful you’ve made your home, but good lighting can also work to distract from the bad. Keep it well lit, but intimate and cozy. I would avoid overhead light, focus on lamps and candles. I’ve been to parties in not so grand homes that were lit with just candles and lamps and felt like Ina Garten herself was the hostess.
Lastly, food. Everybody loves to eat, and if you’re trying to sell your home- show people how you’ve lived there. Convene in the kitchen for a cheese board and a glass of wine or have a few trays out on the patio- it will give you and your agent more time to tell buyers about the home itself and all it has to offer. You don’t have to go full Martha Stewart, but a little bit of charcuterie and rosé goes a long way.
Ultimately, it’s nothing to stress about, just think about what you enjoy about visiting someone else’s home. Do you have a friend who’s an exceptional host or hostess that you can steal ideas from? What do you usually talk about in the car ride home after leaving a party? Don’t make it too difficult, and have fun with it.