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The Reality of the Open House

August 12 2010

CountyHistoricHome200pxWhenever I take a new listing one of the first questions I am asked by a Seller client is will I do an Open House. The answer to that question is often a question, “Do you want an Open House?” Often the answer is no, as many Sellers are already aware that their neighbors are just chomping at the bit the second the For Sale sign goes up to get in their home and size it up.

Some Sellers don’t care, some don’t want their neighbors potentially rifling through their dresser drawers or medicine cabinets, and desperately decline the option.  For those Sellers who do want the Open House, my follow up question is, “What do you expect the results of an open house will be?” The answer is often a pensive stare, and a speechless moment. 

Client expectations of what an Open House does to sell their home, isn’t always in line with the reality of what an Open House does accomplish.  Open Houses typically get the Real Estate agent the opportunity to connect with a prospective Buyer Client. I believe the statistic I had read most recently was that less than 4% of properties sell as a result of an Open House (when I asked the question on Twitter, Rob MarchittiRob Marchitti replied that it was 5%). So the Seller expectations that the Open House will be the miracle solution to the sale of their property is a disappointing, not usually.

So as a Seller, are you really motivated to sell your home?  If so then you need to look at other factors in the Sale and seek solutions there. Here is what I tell all my Sellers at the time of listing.

1. Set the price correctly the first time. You don’t want to test the high end of the market in todays economy, you want to be realistic, looking at recent comparables, and pricing 1-3% below the last comparable property, to accomplish a quick sale.  I also tell my Sellers if they don’t have traffic or an offer in the first two weeks, they need to be aggressive in price adjustments.
2. Curb Appeal is important. The first impression is the one the Buyer gets when they arrive at your home. Take the time to make your home appear fresh, exciting and clean. Even if you have the most beautiful home on the interior, a grubby exterior will turn them away every time.
3. Photos matter! Your Real Estate Agent should have great photos on the MLS and other peripheral sites. Lighting is important, using a flash is essential, and today High Definition cameras make all the difference. I do caution you that the photos should well represent your home – dropping them into Photoshop to color adjust or edit isn’t a solution. I post all my pictures without any adjustments (unless I need to Photoshop out your cat's tail as it ran through the shot and I didn’t notice). There are a number of helpful photography services and products available to real estate agents. 
4. Be flexible! The Buyer can come when the Buyer can come, if the appointment isn’t ideal for you, find a solution or offer an alternative. A motivated Seller will clear the path for a motivated Buyer.
5. Offer a Home Warranty. These help with todays Buyers a lot, they make a Buyer feel more comfortable about putting more money into a house at purchase, and not worrying about reserves.  The other great offer with most is that you have Sellers coverage, and if the Buyer finds a defect at inspection it might well be covered by your Home Warranty.

So – before you tell me to sit in your house, and host an open house, before I call 300 neighbors, knock the doors, post the listing, and do all that – knowing the likelihood on a beautiful July Sunday that no one will show up is extremely high, consider whether you have put your best foot forward in all the other ways.

No, I didn’t really want to go to the pool with my Family today did I?

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