10 Open House Tips for Agents
A few weeks ago real estate agents across the nation held more than a whopping 31,000 open houses. While we can’t imagine how much punch and cookies were consumed by potential buyers (and those otherwise just looking for fun), these open houses can be critical in helping a house sell. A well-executed open house can point out interesting features of a house or even the neighborhood that your typical house tour don’t. Here are 10 critical things to keep in mind when planning your next open house.
Let It Shine!
Buyers are looking for a place to live, breathe, and relax. Unless you’re specifically selling a place designed to be the next and best “man cave”, be sure that as much natural light as possible is entering the home and turn on all the lights. (Note that this does not mean “all the things.”) While the current homeowner may be averse to that glaring afternoon sunshine, be sure to open those curtains to highlight the bright home that is possible. If the home has dark accents – such as brown walls or dark furniture – this is especially important to prevent the impression of a dark and dreary home. (Because who wants to buy one of those?)
Skip the Smelly Scents
Anyone who has ever faced seasonal allergies knows how annoying a little pollen can be. For those with permanent allergies, even a burning candle can induce an allergy attack that will force your potential buyer back to their car and headed to the hospital. If the house needs some freshening-up, consider opening a window, or looking for allergy-free options like making hot apple cider to clear the air before the open house. Your current homeowners will thank you when potential buyers don’t have an allergy attack at the front door.
Set the Mood with Music
There is mood lighting (see tip #1) and then there is mood music. Both of these sensory experiences can subconsciously impact how a potential buyer feels about the home. Consider playing different types of music throughout the house (quietly!) to impact how those who tour your house feel about the home. Whether you want a couple to feel a sense of romance when viewing their future bedroom, a sense of playfulness in the finished basement or a sudden impulse to dance around the kitchen, you are empowered to make this happen – whether or not those feelings actually exist. (Honestly – who actually dances around their kitchen?)
Serve Delicious Snacks
This might be common sense, but we’ll cover it anyway – always, always, always offer delicious snacks at an open house. Many default to the typical cookies and punch menu, but if you really want to impress potential buyers, consider offering a little something different. If you live in a region that is known for a specific type of food (such as seafood here in the Pacific Northwest) consider offering a “taste” of the area. Alternatively, if the neighborhood is known for being home to vegans or backyard barbecues, consider offering snacks that feature a similar “taste” of the area.
Allow for Easy Access
Open Houses can be tricky for potential buyers to navigate – especially when parking is difficult to find. Be sure that all cars are out of the driveway (it’s just for a few hours!) and consider asking neighbors to move their cars from nearby curbs to make room for those stopping by for the afternoon. If a potential buyer can’t find anywhere to park, they’ll just drive right on by instead – which you probably don’t want. (That is, unless you want to eat all those delicious snacks yourself, in which case, we don’t blame you for skipping this nugget of advice.)
Entertain, But Don’t Forget to Educate, Too
An open house is a great opportunity to inform potential buyers about all the details critical to selling the house, including information related to inspection reports, appraisals, major repairs, and blueprints. Often times this information is not discussed during a typical tour, but can offer details that may persuade a potential buyer to consider this house more than another – especially if it hasn’t offered such information. A great inspection and blueprints that inspire a potential buyer to make possible additions could make or break a potential sale, so be sure to have these documents available at an open house.
Show and Tell
A picture is worth a 1,000 words – especially at open houses. Consider creating a bulletin board of what the home (and it’s surrounding foliage) looks like throughout the year. If your open house is during the winter, potential buyers may not be able to see how gorgeous the backyard garden looks in spring. For some buyers, the surroundings of a home are just as important as what is inside of it!
Let Those Neighbors Get Nosy
Typically a house sells every few years – which means the current neighbors have never had a chance to get a peek inside the home you’re listing. We all know how nosy neighbors can be – and what better chance to fulfill their needs and yours than to hold a special preview just for your neighbors? Consider opening the doors to the Open House an hour early for a “Neighborhood Preview Only”. All you need to do is create a few special flyers for the neighbors advertising these “special hours”. Just make sure you OK it with the sellers first.
Hide All The Things
Okay, so you don’t have to hide all the things – but be sure to hide anything valuable and breakable. People can be clumsy, and you can’t discriminate against families with kids from visiting your open house (as much as you wish you could, we know.) Since the homeowners likely won’t be present, it’s hard to keep an eye on everything happening during an open house, so be sure these delicate items are hidden during the open house.
Don’t Worry – Be Happy
Finally, don’t forget to be happy. A popular open house is a good thing – even if a bit overwhelming. Be prepared to answer questions, be sure to greet everyone who enters, and be sure everyone leaves with all the information they need. While the house may not be for everyone, do the best you can to make the experience enjoyable for everyone – and yes, as cheesy as it sounds, that starts with you.
Are you a real estate agent who is a pro coordinating open houses? Share your tips and advice in the comments!