With the days growing longer and the arrival of summer just a few weeks away, we are in what’s usually the busiest time of year for home sales, not just in the Ottawa area but in cities across North America.

If you happen to be selling, and your home has recently been listed and opened for showings, it can be an anxious time as you wait with fingers crossed and hope for an offer.

Every time your Realtor’s office contacts you to schedule a visit from a buyer, you want to be sure your property looks its best and the showing goes as smoothly as possible.

Keeping your home in showroom condition can be a challenge. You’re living your daily life while also trying to keep your property looking as spotless and immaculate as it does in the photos your Realtor has posted on websites.

In my more than 30 years of experience as a Realtor in the Ottawa area, I’ve accompanied thousands of clients to visit possible new homes, and I’ve helped just as many sellers. I’ve seen the kinds of things that go over well with buyers and the things that can turn them off.

If your home is in that showing phase, here are a few tips to keep in mind, to help your showings go as smoothly as possible:

Be Prepared for Showings at Short Notice: In many cases, a buyer’s Realtor will request a showing at least a day early, and you will have time to prepare.

But there will also be occasions when a Realtor is taking a client to another property in your neighbourhood and asks to see your home at the last minute, sometimes only an hour or two in advance. You could receive the e-mail request while at work for a showing that afternoon.

While you can turn down such requests if your home just isn’t ready, it doesn’t work in your favour and you could lose a potential sale.

To avoid this, try to live as if you could be showing your home at a moment’s notice.

Make the beds before you leave for work. Don’t leave dishes in the sink. Keep surfaces tidy, uncluttered and dust-free. Vacuum and mop frequently.

Some sellers even make a point of eating mostly take-out or microwave meals during the listing period to avoid messing the kitchen.

Closets and Cupboards:  Yes, buyers do open closets and cupboards to see how much space they have. Keep them organized, clean and uncluttered to give the feeling of spaciousness and order. Buyers can be turned off if they open a closet and see boxes or other items crammed floor to ceiling into every available space.

If possible, before you even start showings, go through your closets and donate anything you haven’t worn for the past year.

With linen cupboards, keep your towels and sheets neatly folded and piled to create a sense of order and tidiness.

Clean those Windows (and open them): Many people are so worried about the interior of their homes, they can forget the importance of sparkling windows. Dust can accumulate quickly in the summer, so make a point of regularly washing windows outside and in and keeping them streak-free to let that sunlight flood in on a nice day.

Take advantage of the season by keeping your windows open and fresh air coming in to help remove any odours from cooking or pets that might turn off prospective buyers.

Entrances and patios: If you don’t have a green thumb or much of a garden to speak of, you can still impress visitors with pots of flowers or hanging baskets. Ottawa’s Parkdale and ByWard Markets are excellent sources of spectacular pots and hanging baskets that can add brilliant colour to your home and are easy to care for.

Curb Appeal: Many visitors will first score your property based on what they see when they pull up, before the Realtor has even opened the front door. Keep your yards trimmed, your walkways clean and swept and your front steps and driveway clear of clutter.

Night Showings: Before the showing, turn on all lights, inside and out, to make your property feel warm and inviting. Turning on the lighting is a good idea even during daytime showings, to make the rooms feel bright.

Tip Number One: Don’t Be at Home During Showings: Some sellers think they can help a sale by being home to answer questions, but I can say from experience that most buyers feel uncomfortable looking though a property when the owner is present. I have had buyers tell me they don’t even want to visit a property if we’ve been told that the owners will be there.

Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home. When they visit, they want to feel relaxed, and not as if they are intruding. That can be difficult to do if the owner is hovering and pointing out all the wonderful features.

My fellow Realtors and I could tell you many stories of times when owners ignored this advice and remained at home, leaving the potential buyers feeling uncomfortable. Some sellers have been known to start arguing with buyers if they overhear a negative comment about their property.

Let the buyers look around on their own, and you’ll be helping your chances of a sale. If you have a dog, no matter how friendly, take the dog with you when your property is being shown. Even friendly dogs can be aggressive with unfamiliar visitors.

If the buyers have questions that aren’t answered on the feature sheets, their agent will be in touch with me to inquire, and we can respond quickly.

If you’re considering buying or selling a property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you and tell you about the local market and the services my team and I offer at Nancy Benson and Associates.

For example, with all my seller clients, I work with a professional stager who will help us de-clutter and re-arrange furniture to get your home into pristine condition before we take any photos or do any showings. When we are finished with our preparation work, many clients have told us they never imagined their home could look so beautiful. That’s feedback we love to hear.

If you’d like to see some examples, visit my website, at nancybenson.com, and check my current listings. This is the kind of presentation we offer all sellers.

You can also give me a call at 613-747-4747. Happy spring, everyone!