How to Prepare Your Home for a Surprise Showing

Let’s apply the Konmari method to preparing your home for an open house or surprise showing.
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There are a lot of stressors in everyday life. Add the chore of moving on top of it all, and it can feel like your fragile house of cards is liable to collapse at any moment. In addition to managing your own home buying process, you have to keep the house you’re leaving squeaky clean for its next set of buyers—whenever they show up!

When you’re focused on making space for your next journey, it can be jarring to stop and prepare your current place for a showing. But if we’ve learned anything from Marie Kondo, the popular Japanese organizing consultant, it’s that tidying up can be taken in stages. And that it can be both fun and rewarding in the end! 

Let’s apply the Konmari method to preparing your home for an open house or surprise showing. Are you ready to get started?


Lesson 1: Clothing

We’re working on the assumption that you’ve already pared down your belongings to only those that spark joy before listing your home on the market. Now, you just have to keep your home neat and tidy for prospective buyers. As soon as you get the call, be ready to shift into gear. 

Clothing (and other “laundry” items) should be the first thing you tackle. Pick up stray socks, clothes, and jackets from the floor, door hangers, or the back of chairs. Make sure your entryway is neat, with the bare minimum of shoes and coats on display. Put all remaining shoes in their place. Then go through the kitchen and bathrooms to grab dirty dish towels, bath towels, and other items in need of laundering. Make sure clean hand towels are on display in case they’re needed.


Lesson 2: Books

Neatly arrange any books or magazines you have out. If you’re reading something baudy or political, you may wish to shelve it until the showing is done. While you’re at it, straighten up lose DVDs, video games, board games, and other media items you have around the house. Make sure kitchen cookbooks or bathroom readers are also neatly placed where they can be accessible, but not in the way.


Lesson 3: Paper

Putting away papers is doubly important during a showing. On the one hand, clear tabletops and counters give the illusion of more space in your home. But even more important, it can protect your safety and privacy. Make sure bills, insurance documents, and even personal correspondence are tucked away. This is also a great opportunity to toss last week’s magazines, newspapers, and circulars into the recycling bin. Expired 20% off coupons do not spark joy.


Lesson 4: Komono

Philip K. Dick invented the term “kipple” for the useless little items around your house that seem to multiply while you’re not looking. Now’s the time to do a thorough sweep for kipple in the kitchen, bathrooms, and garage. Stray twist ties, gum wrappers, dirty dishes, school items, action figures…. If you don’t have time to put them in their proper place as you go, designate a “house showing” bin to toss them into while you make your sweep. But don’t forget to tidy them up properly as soon as possible—You definitely don’t want the whole bin to multiply!


Lesson 5: Sentimental Items

You may have heard that you should take down family photos before you list your home. If you still have some around, we recommend grabbing them on your way out before the prospective buyers arrive. In fact, many sellers have a box of all kinds of sentimental and personal items that they remove from the home during showings. Items in the box can include jewelry, portable family heirlooms, and medications. It’s unlikely that anything would go missing while you’re away, but it’s a tidy way to keep all your most valuable items close to the vest.


What did We Miss?

Tidying up can feel like a lot of work. But once you have a plan in place, and you practice it pretty regularly, it will feel like less and less work every time—because it will be. 

Do you have any advice about how to prepare a home for a surprise showing? What tricks have you tried? Share them with us in the comments.

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