Sellers, donâ€™t be daunted.
As usual, reality TV is a dramatic exaggeration of what is - or should be - going in real life. Â Everyday home owners and their agents have upped the ante on hospitality, but the focus of most successful Open Houses is still the same: showcasing the house to the right population of prospective buyers and brokers.
Sometimes, to keep the right focus, itâ€™s best to eliminate the things we shouldnâ€™t do. To help you stay focused on the items you and your agent agree will make your Open House a hit, here are a handful of things smart sellers should avoid doing: Â Â
1. Â DONâ€™T: Attend or pretend. Â Â A sellerâ€™s place at an Open House is elsewhere. It used to be that only looky-loos and just-starting buyers showed up at Open Houses. But itâ€™s increasingly common for serious, qualified, time-strapped buyers to tour Open House with their agents every weekend, rather than seeing individual properties scattershot throughout the week.Â
serious buyers like to have serious conversations. In fact, the more serious
the buyer, the more intense the conversation, critique and debate they might
want to have about your home - pro and con. When buyers get serious about a
property, they tear it apart, verbally, as part of the process of deciding
whether they could live there, what changes they would need to make to it, and so
forth. These conversations are part of the process of vetting and buying a home
- precisely the process youâ€™re hoping your Open House will prompt and promote.
put, buyers are unlikely to have that level of back-and-forth with each other
and with their agent while a seller is onsite than they are when the seller is
And whatever you do, donâ€™t give into the temptation to show up to the Open House and pretending youâ€™re just another buyer. (Donâ€™t laugh folks - Iâ€™ve seen it done). Â It will only make you and your agent a bit crazier. Iâ€™ve seen many a seller get offended and fixated on things buyers have said about their homes.Â That can becomecounterproductive to the emotional detachment you need to make wise home-selling decisions. To boot, chances are good the real buyers wonâ€™t be fooled by your act. Rather, theyâ€™ll think youâ€™re off-your-rocker, too.
Your agent will be happy to consolidate, sort through and deliver the most useful insights from buyer and broker feedback provided at the Open House in a way you can use to drive your future pricing and marketing decisions.
2. Â DONâ€™T: Create distractions vs. attractions. When it comes to hospitality and the perks you can lure prospective buyers to attend your Open House, itâ€™s essential to walk the sometimes-fine line between (a) attracting true potential buyers for your home and (b) creating a circus atmosphere, making your home a disregarded footnote in the Open House Experience.
Sometimes, the line is not-so fine. Â Iced lemonade on a scorching summer day? ATTRACTION. Botox? Distraction.Â
But other times, the line can blur. Â Treats that showcase the home in its best light or relieve some of the discomforts of a long, hot day of house hunting can prompt target buyers to stay longer, see more of the home or see the home from a perspective they might not have otherwise. Basic refreshments, art that highlights the home and even higher end treats suitable to the price point of the home (like an espresso bar) fall onto the â€œattractionâ€ side of the fence.
are exceptions to this rule, but face-painting, live entertainment and even
fully catered meals can easily slide over the line, registering as
Note: This rule is not quite as applicable for brokerâ€™s Open Houses as it is for Open Houses that are targeted to the general public. Brokers have to choose from sometimes dozens of listings every week to peruse. And 90% of qualified buyers will be represented by a broker. If your agent is inclined to be a bit over-the-top in luring agents and brokers to their open house, that can be a sensible and successful strategy.
3. Â DONâ€™T: Ignore seasonal preferences. Recently, researchers
found that buyers place a higher value on homes with swimming pools and central
air conditioning in the summer, compared with what they would pay during the
winter. Right or wrong, itâ€™s a truth about humanity that behavioral economists
call the projection bias: the tendency to overestimate the chances that your
future tastes will be the same as your preferences in the moment.
This is the same phenomenon that renders it foolhardy to grocery shop while hungry, or to buy 10 neon items of clothing because youâ€™re in a colorful state of mind this month. (Okay, so I might have personally done that last one.)
easy to get fixated on painting your walls â€œBuy Me Beigeâ€ and handling other
staging musts in the time leading up to an Open House. But it behooves you to
also play up any seasonally compelling aspects of your home as part of your
property preparation and home marketing regimen. If you have a pool, as your
agent to make sure the Open House or yard signs mention it prominently. Take
care to stage it by ensuring it is crystal clear and surrounded with chaise
lounges or other attractive outdoor furniture. In fact, if you do offer
attendees refreshments, poolside might be the spot to serve them, for a
summertime Open House.
As well, crank up the A/C and work with your agent to showcase any energy-efficient features your home is equipped with, as well as their impact on your summertime energy bills. (In some areas, itâ€™s common for sellers to leave disclosures and even utitlity bills - with all sensitive information redacted - in a property during the Open House. Â If you have solar panels, dual-paned windows or a new, efficient A/C unit, make sure your binder shows off the lower operating costs for your home.)
4. Â DONâ€™T: Complicate buyersâ€™ access to the property. Â Thereâ€™s a reason itâ€™s called an Open House. The objective is to grant buyers relatively free access to see and fall in love with your home. Â Donâ€™t undermine your own Open House by blocking buyers from a room, closet, basement or area of the yard, unless safety absolutely dictates. Â Anything you do that requires a buyer to come back and see it at another time just puts one more roadblock between them and buying your home â€“ and thatâ€™s the opposite of the desired effect.Â
In the same vein, if there are common Open House hours in your area, do your best to align your homeâ€™s Open House hours with those.Â You want to make your home maximally accessible for viewing by those buyers who are devoting 2 hours every Sunday afternoon to perusing target properties. If you hold your Open House at hours wildly different than the norm, youâ€™ll shrink the pool of buyers who can attend.
5. Â DONâ€™T: Neglect the neighbors. Conventional real estate wisdom says agents invite neighbors to open houses because they often turn into seller clients. Â And this is true. But hereâ€™s another truth - your neighbors are the people most likely to know other people who want to live in your neighborhood.Â (Read: target buyers for your home.)Â
Also, neighbors who are caught off-guard by Open House traffic, who have taken up all the parking on the street or who have decided to hold their trombone quartet practice at precisely the same time as your Open House can actually have a negative impact the attendance and effectiveness of your Open House. Â Â
The best practice is to be sure your neighbors are informed and even invited to your Open House.
Sellers: Â Whatâ€™s your biggest Open House question, concern or challenge?
ALL: Â What Open House donâ€™ts have you been seeing