Open houses…are they really effective?
Real estate agents swear by them, while others say they’re a waste of time.
Of course, it’s up to you as the seller to decide whether or not to hold an open house, but here are a few best practices to consider.
The “dos and don’ts” below reflect the experiences of countless sellers and their agents in a wide variety of markets, so as with any marketing effort…choose what will work for you!
1. Use high-quality images
A shot with poor lighting or composition says “don’t bother coming to my open house.”
Here are a few simple ways to make sure you get the best possible photos:
- ⬥ Professional photography is a must when selling a house. You need professional photos if you own a high-end piece of real estate or you want to sell your home quickly. iPhone photos can be taken by anyone, but professional work speaks for itself.
- ⬥ Preparation is key to a successful photo shoot at home. Having a messy, cluttered home will show up in the photos. Invest some time cleaning those countertops, putting away personal items, and staging the main rooms.
- ⬥ Make your home shine with natural sunlight. Open your curtains and make any room that has a great deal of natural light a focal point. In the photo, the natural light will also make the space look bigger.
- ⬥ Display your focal points and home essentials. In your listing photos, highlight the best and most important features of your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spectacular master bedroom, a view from your balcony, or an open floor plan kitchen, you want to make your home stand out.
2. Put the paperwork out
Open houses aren’t just about the ambiance. It’s also about getting down to business.
- ⬥ Provide four-color flyers that include high-quality photos and the key points and unique features of your house, including a cheat sheet that people can take home with them.
- ⬥ Provide brochures and pamphlets that contain information on financing options. This will allow buyers to calculate the monthly mortgage payment more easily. Your bank or lender can provide you with these documents.
- ⬥ In addition, include inspection reports, proof of major repairs, and blueprints of additions to the house for potential buyers to see.
- ⬥ Include your HomeZada File and details to show that you have cared for your home and can leave the prospective buyer with an unlimited photos of your property.
3. Don’t keep personal information on display
A family calendar is wonderful…unless you leave it out for the whole world to see that you’re going away at the end of the month.
Even though most people who visit your open house will be seriously interested in looking at it (or simply curious), why take a chance?
In addition, you want any potential buyer to visualise themselves living in the house, so even just putting away photos of your family, calendars, or other memorabilia is a smart move.
4. Safeguard your valuables
Protect anything you do not want to lose, especially if it can be tucked away easily.
It is advisable to store items like:
- ⬥ computers
- ⬥ jewelry and/or watches
- ⬥ collectibles
- ⬥ small electronics
- ⬥ prescription drugs
- ⬥ cash
- ⬥ guns
Lock up smaller items on site, and store larger items in a secure, off-site facility.
5. Safety first
Find out whether another agent will be on hand during the open house. This is important for the security of both you and the agent.
Criminals can sometimes use open houses to “inspect” a house. One person will speak with the realtor while the other roams through the house unaccompanied.
That’s why it’s always better to have two sets of eyes than one…especially when your open house attracts so many people.
6. Afterward, lock up
The realtor should lock up after showings, after ensuring that anything valuable that you couldn’t secure is still there.
Also make sure they check that your windows and doors are secure and to see that no one is still in the house (and backyard).
7. Keep your distance
Your home seems to have attracted buyers, but you wonder what they think. You wonder whether anyone is interested enough to make an offer…or if anyone came at all!
Tempting as it may be, don’t drop by!
When you’re there, it will put serious buyers off…after all, they’re “tearing your house down” in order to get it for a cheaper price. It is simply part of the negotiating process, but if you are there, you are interfering and might lose the deal.
8. Consider the season
Are you lucky enough to have a pool? Book your open house in the summer and make the most of it.
A study has shown that buyers will rate homes with swimming pools and air conditioning higher during the summer than during other times of the year.
Set up your pool with beautiful outdoor furniture and cool refreshments like lemonade and you might start a bidding war!
9. Eliminate friction
Your property should be easily accessible to buyers.
Make sure they can look through every room, closet, basement, attic, or outdoor area (unless their safety is compromised).
If you want to reduce any friction between your home and its potential new owner, do not make potential buyers jump through hoops to view your property. Have your realtor set open house hours during the same time that other properties are being viewed.
10. Remember your neighbors
Finally, know that there’s a good chance your neighbors will stop by. Let them. Better yet, invite them. Often, your neighbors know someone who wants to live in your neighborhood who may be interested in your home.
It’s also good neighborly courtesy to inform them of the open house. If your neighbors are aware ahead of time about the event, they can arrange to be elsewhere if they’d like. After all, it’s not fun to have your normally peaceful Sunday interrupted by the buzz of traffic and people up and down the street.