Here's how to win the open house contest Experts at BankRate.com say listing your home for sale is like entering a beauty pageant. The contestants are all the other for-sale homes in the area. The judges are potential buyers. The challenge begins at the open house. If you've ever been to an open house held by a building contractor, you will remember being impressed by the clean, spacious feeling it offered. Keep that image in mind when you prepare your home for a showing. You won't have all new furniture as the builder did, but you can still strive for the uncrowded, spacious feel that made you want to "move in now!" Homeowners are used to seeing their miscellaneous items, and they don't realize it's a problem for others. Be sure to store the extra stuff you seldom, if ever, use. Make up your beds; clean and arrange the bathrooms so they are especially nice. Make space in the closets. They should look like there is room for the next clothes and shoes you buy. Your home's exterior features and yard are a factor in selling. Buyers want to visualize themselves living there. If they don't want to, they might drive by and not go into your home at all. In warm weather, put some flowers outside. Make sure your driveway looks nice, and the roof is clean. You'll want to trim the shrubs, cut the grass and wash the windows. In fall and winter, have attractive seasonal decorations by the front door. No matter how adorable your pets are, get them out of your home during an open house. Pick up the dog dishes and get rid of the litter box. Stash your family photos. Buyers want to visualize how they will look in the home, not how they will look with your kids and relatives. It's especially true if the buyer is from a different culture. Always remove religious symbols, political articles and racy art. Sometimes a seller doesn't want a potential buyer to see the garage or store room because it's messy. But a prospect won't buy your home if you make any area unavailable. You can't be present at your open house. Your real estate agent will guide visitors and answer their questions. Rent a storage unit for your clutter, storage items and extra furniture. Make every room in the house spacious and appealing. You'll win the beauty contest and your home will sell quickly.