Selling your home is one thing. Selling it well is another. A key component of selling well starts with getting the open house right. An open house is typically when a broker or prospective buyer’s gets a first impression of a property. In a hot market like todays where demand is typically outpacing supply, homeowners are finding that the open house sets the battleground for a bidding war. Of course that’s dependent on the success of the open house. So what goes into a successful open house? Whether you have a seasoned Realtor to get the job done or you are going it alone, there are some tried and true steps to making sure your open house goes off without a hitch and you get buyers lined up with bids after the fact.
Get the word out!
Driving traffic to your open house is the first key step. Getting prospective buyers and buyers’ agents in the door in and of itself is a job. Exposure is key and in this case, more is more. If your Realtor is managing your open house you should be rest assured that they will communicate the open house details to their network of agents and buyers. Otherwise, advertising online is a must especially with the advent of mobile-enabled apps for real estate-related sites. When it comes to social networking get the word out to all of your networks and ask friends and family to share the posts with their networks—“word of mouth” in the digital age is just as powerful, if not more so, and helps cast a wider net.
It isn’t enough these days to rely just on “Open House” signs on the weekends. Whenever advertising your open house be sure to provide as much detail as possible—written and photographic. Be sure to pique a buyer’s interest with benefits of property-specific features like a fenced in yard for pets to roam, or updated features like brand new granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. The idea isn’t to just make buyers feel like they’ve seen or know a great deal of the property, but rather to draw them in to experience it for themselves in person.
Put your (home’s) best foot forward
You can never take back a first impression so the moment a buyer sets their eyes on your property make sure what they’re seeing is gold. Curb appeal is a real part of this so make sure before someone sets foot inside the home they don’t run across any red flags or imperfections on the outside. If your property’s façade needs a face-lift by way of a fresh coat of paint do so. If the grass is browning in patches or plants are past their prime refresh them with new sod and plants from your local nursery.
The key is to keep buyers focused on the high points of the property inside and out. Don’t let buyers and agents get distracted by cluttered spaces, oversized furniture that makes rooms appear smaller, or eccentric art pieces. Equally important is securing your home and belongings during the event so that is one less thing to worry about throughout the duration. Your Realtor will be able to guide you on what makes your property look its most sellable, but generally what it really takes to score on your open house is a clean, de-cluttered space that highlights the property’s best features.
Mind your manners
Ever as important as how you present your home is how you (or your agent) entertain buyers and agents who come through the open house. Once someone comes through the door have visitors sign in with their contact information. Next, visitors will either lean on the Realtor or seller to guide them through the property, or they may opt to go it alone and let the property alone sell itself. Either way, you should know how to navigate each person’s point of view so that they leave with the best impression possible.
The old adage of “catching bees with honey” will certainly ring true in any open house as guests should be cordially greeted. Once inside, you will want to share at least a quick rundown of the highlights of the property, inevitably directing visitors to the focus on what you want them to focus on. When foot traffic is low you may feel inclined to shadow buyers and agents as they make their way through the home, but be mindful that hovering could be detrimental to your cause–this is something a seasoned agent will know how to handle, but if you’re going it alone practicing some restraint in this case would be a wise choice. For frame of reference, more often than not, Realtors ask sellers to not be present during open houses as it can be distracting for them and visitors.
Once the open house is over take inventory of all that came through and follow up. Often local agents will know fellow agents who come through–a real perk to using local, seasoned agents with strong networks–and be able to connect with them after the fact to nurture interest in the property. Otherwise, take stock of the sign-in sheet and strategically reach out to buyers and their agents who showed real interest. This is a tricky thing to do and one that your Realtor can take charge of–a good reason at the end of the day to consider letting a real estate agent work your listing and open house. Nevertheless, if you take the steps to ensure that you prepare your property beforehand, present it to potential buyers at its best, and do so in the right market, well then you can rest assured that offers should follow the foot traffic in.
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The only advice I would offer to homebuyers at an open house is DO NOT be rude to the people currently residing there! I remember when my Aunt was trying to sell her house. I was living with her for the moment before it finally sold and she relocated to another state.
All I was doing was using my Aunt’s computer. FULLY DRESSED mind you. Nothing strange about THAT! I remember one lady inquiring to her spouse as to who I was and giving me a strange look. It really put me off and made me feel embarrassed to be in MY OWN FAMILY’S home. I found her quite rude.
SHE was the stranger invading the house I already lived in. It’s not like she was at a closing to pick up the keys and I was in HER new living room using HER computer. She was simply a looky lou.
I understand the concern behind homebuyers making sure the seller doesn’t have an UNREFORMED ex-con in their home who may literally revisit the place and lift all their goods after THEY move in. But that was hardly the case.
I don’t care how interested YOU are in purchasing someone else’s home. You treat them and their company with RESPECT when VISITING their home. I don’t care if you’re interested in buying a house from Hitler! Respect him and his family in their own home. Or at least have the decency to make your inquiries IN PRIVATE. Don’t insult people. This may turn them off from selling to YOU at all.
There are lots of stories such as yours. In my experience, I had one set of “buyers” looking at an open house help themselves to a couple of water bottles in the refrigerator. If I hadn’t spotted their activity, they probably would have had lunch there. Remember, it’s pretty awkward to view a home when the owner is there. That awkward look could have been a look of surprise, or concern she might have said something negative about the house within earshot. It could have also been surprise. Most of the time, houses are vacant when buyers are looking at them.