Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Rob  Moffatt, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA

Just wondering...for you folks who go to open houses, what has your experience been? Is there infomation you?

Asked by Rob Moffatt, San Francisco, CA Sat Aug 1, 2009

wish we had on hand? Do you hate signing in? What is would a perfect open house be like for you in terms of how us realtors show the home? Thanks for your feedback!

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Answers

26
Debra (Debbie) Rose’s answer
Joan and JR each get a thumbs up from me.

With all due respect Curious - everyone's home is "fort knox" to them............and they deserve to have it treated as such.

I would NEVER allow a stranger to wander around anyone's home - whether it be a $200,000 home or one for $2,000,000. Forget stealing things - what if the homeowner comes home to find something broken?Accompanying a potential buyer is a courtesy the homeowner expects. It is our repsonsiblity to make sure we oversee anything that takes place during our watch. If that bothers a "looker" , they can come back with an agent and see the house another day. That agent will also accompany them as they tour the house. Why should any stranger feel entitled to march around someone's home? . Most people respect and understand the need for these precautions.
I had a neighbor come to an open house (gee, a neighbor!, what a surprise) and she said she was impressed because I showed her around - she was upset that an agent at another open house let everyone float through the house on their own...... she said she'd never use anyone who had such little regard for their listing!

Bottom line is - in my opinion, if one is sitting on an open house hoping it will sell as a result - they are better off going to the movies on that Sunday afternoon instead. Open houses are optional parts of my marketing plan......very optional.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 5, 2009
BEST ANSWER
I don't mind signing in as long as I'm not badgered for personal information other than name.

I don't like being followed around and pestered with facts, questions or even small talk, introducing yourself making yourself available to any questions as well as an easily accessable sheet of additional key facts would be suffice. Perhaps a print out list on the back of the MLS info flyer listing specific details of the home? I feel much more comfortable when left to wander on my own.

Snacks and bottled beverages such as water are a major plus. Going home to home especially around 1:00 (lunch time for many) on a Sunday afternoon I know I'm cranky, thirsty and quite possibly distracted by hunger.

Please NO HOMEOWNERS! I have literally refused to see a home because the homeowner was present. Its a major distraction and you can't help but feel your invading their space.

Cage and/or remove all pets. Several individuals have allergies or phobias and this can cause a major problem.

I do not like being verbally asked for feedback, I feel like I'm being put on the spot/attacked and will more than likely lie. Perhaps a short questionnaire with a cup of pencils at the entry (or on the snack table) would help? 5-10 questions but no more may do the trick? several people have short attention spans and are quick to move on. General questions regarding their family size, home desires and positives and negatives of the home will help you slim down your target consumers.

Declutter all spaces including the closests. As you know, clutter makes a space feel smaller than it actually may be and as a buyer I won't even bother entering a room if there isn't a clear path for me to do so. Climbing over furniture and/or personal items is out of the question.

Make sure all areas are well lit and doors unlocked.

Music is actually quite soothing if kept neutral, melow on a low volume in the central part of the home. Not so much classical but perhaps something like Norah Jones?? I hate entering a silent home, I feel awkward if and when I step on a squeaky board, shut a door or bump into a closet and I feel like someone may be eaves dropping on any discussions my husband and I may be having regarding the home.

I hope this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 1, 2009
and, JR, if may I continue............. " If I see an agent following me, I'm just going to make an excuse and leave [good - by all means - leave] The seller needs to take responsibility for securing valuables so potential buyers can view the house without being followed by a security guard [real potential buyers come with an agent ] . Agents who are determined to hound buyers [ ie: ask them to identify themselves; show them around?] really shouldn't be holding open houses [I prefer not to hold open house for all the reasons already listed], and it's somewhat comforting to read that agents with those views are generally against them[ hurray for us]. "
........................................................................

So............If showing respect and feeling responsible for an owner's home means that I follow you like a "security guard", or "hound" someone, then I am guilty as charged!

It's chutzpah (in my opnion) to expect to have free reign when visiting someone's home, I don't care if you are a friend visiting them, or a looker at a Sunday open housel.....

Who out there wants any random stranger freely wandering around their home - their bedrooms, looking in their closets????? If, by showing the home, that's "hounding someone" , you better believe if you hire me to be your listing agent, i will hound, follow, follow up, oversee, and show off your home to the best of my ability - plus protect your privacy and valuables at the same time.............it's the very least you should expect from me.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 14, 2009
I generally go to open houses I'm mildly curious about, but with minimum interest in buying so I don't waste my buyer agent's time. If I do become interested, I contact my agent for a second viewing.

I prefer not to sign in so I don't get contacted, but I will if asked and always identify my buyer agent by name to stop the line of questioning in its tracks. I think the whole idea of asking for IDs negates the concept of an "open" house - you might as well deal exclusively with showings by appointment at that point. Which is a fine approach, but I think you lose potential customers that way.

I appreciate printouts of the MLS listing, everything else is just fluff.

I could care less about snacks and drinks, and go out of my way to avoid them. I'm there to look at the home, not exchange small talk over cookies.

I consider the role of the agent the same of any other salesperson, provide information if needed, but otherwise stay out of the way so I can see the house unimpeded and come to my own conclusions. If I see an agent following me, I'm just going to make an excuse and leave. The seller needs to take responsibility for securing valuables so potential buyers can view the house without being followed by a security guard. Agents who are determined to hound buyers really shouldn't be holding open houses, and it's somewhat comforting to read that agents with those views are generally against them.

I'm comfortable with reasonable precautions such as taking off shoes and such, if the house in question calls for it. White carpeting, certainly. Wood floors, bad carpeting, or clutter I might step on? Not so much.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
Again, I'm not trying to argue here but your last statement enters an entirely different area altogether. I assume for those (multi)million dollar homes you'd also be checking ID at the front gate before allowing anyone to enter the perimeter of the home. In this case its completely understandable and even expected. My earlier comments were geared more so towards the modestly priced homes. There's no reason to treat a 200k home like fort knox.

This was an opinion thread and I expressed my opinion accordingly, thats all. There's really no reason to continue to bicker.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other words I should just agree with you?


As Debbie just said, everyone’s home is fort knox to them. How insulting to say it’s OK to check ID at a multimillion dollar home but not a 200,000 home. It’s OK to steal a $1,000 engagement ring but not a $500,000 ring? It’s OK to break a vase from TJ Maxx but not Tiffany’s?

And Debbie, I’m so happy opens are “very optional” with you, too. I sat for 2 hours reading the Sunday times last week, because a client caught me at a bad time and I agreed to do an open house for them before I lined up an agent who actually wanted to do an open house. This home is a million dollar home, and frankly I was glad no one came, although I was surprised no one was curious to see the inside. I’d love to know how many posters here would answer their front door and let a complete stranger come into their house and walk around. Unescorted, no less. And not feel as if at any moment they could be knocked over the head.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 11, 2009
It would be nice to work in “teams”, Newbie, and would make my job easier, but I am the only one who will benefit from that approach. Since we are independent contractors, it’s kind of hard to get another agent to volunteer to guard a certain part of a house for free.

When I do an open house I do blend, I also follow the buyer thru the house. Not on their heels, but I stand at the door. Although I agree with the Realtor who said all personal stuff should be removed, there is no reason for a buyer to rummage in a drawer, which may be where the owner removed their possessions to.

I also require all buyers to fill out a form with their personal information, and that includes their contact information, before they view the house. I’m sorry you don’t agree, Newbie, but you are in someone else’s home and the owner is entitled to know who is coming into it. Incidentally, I am now considering asking for ID, which as I understand it is SOP in some places. There are people who stake out open houses and who commit robberies. On the way out I ask if they would consider this home, if not, I ask if I can contact them with other homes that may suit them.

I realize some buyer’s think a perfect open house means the house is open, they can wander around and leave with no obligation, but this is how I make my living. I don’t go where they work and throw the burgers off the grill onto the floor, I expect my open house visitors to understand that this is my job.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 3, 2009
Jed, I agree with you that once a seller puts a home on the market, it is a product for sale. However, when families are still living in the home, it is still our responsibility to make sure people touring the home do not overstep boundaries, such as your example of laying on the beds. I think that there is a way of keeping an eye on things and yet not being too intrusive. It is possible to be respectful to both the seller and the potential buyers.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 3, 2009
Curious,
You had excellent advice but you do need to realize that it my responsibility to accompany people around an open house, not as a tour guide as much as a protection for the home seller. How would you feel having strangers walk around your entire house unaccompanied? Please realize that an agent hosting an open house has primary responsibility to the seller.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 2, 2009
Curious Newb: Although I respect your wish to have free reign of the property and not be "pestered with facts", there are a good number of home seekers who want just that type of information. Of course it is easy to put all the information on the flyer, but how many will actually read it, let alone memorize the data when visiting so many homes?

Many homebuyers appreciate a little give and take when it comes to providing important information and the message sometimes gets lost in print versus a conversation. So do understand that Realtors are not there to "badger" homebuyers, but rather to engage and hopefully sell the house, while protecting private property from strangers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 16, 2009
Actually JR, I was rather amazed by the air of entitlement I heard when reading that response........that just because someone wants to sell their home, they should give up their rights to privacy, and that the owner "needs to take repsonsibility to secure their valuables" (so, it's their fault if someone steals or breaks something?)..........................and being shown the home is interpreted as being hounded?

Just because someone considers themself a "potential buyer" doesn't give them the right to ring a doorbell and have carte blanche roaming around someone's home!
To feel you have that right is either naive or rude.

PS even in a dorm, most kids wouldn't just walk in and open closets without being inivited!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 15, 2009
and Debbie, do you think Justlookin leaves their front door open so strangers can come in when they aren't home? or answers the door to find a stranger asking to use the phone and just points to their office and says "go right ahead" and goes back to watching TV? It sounds like Justlookin lives in a dorm.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 15, 2009
I didn't say you had to agree with me. Now you're just putting words in my mouth. You're showing alot of contempt for everything I'm stating. Whether or not you agree, this IS an opinion thread (seemingly geared to the general public) and as previously stated, I expressed my opinion thusly. I respect your thoughts, you should give me the courtesy of doing the same whether or not those thoughts or opinions differ from your own.

The others expressed their differing opions in a calm respectful manner however, I can't help but feel as if I'm being attacked by you for an opinion of all things!

I'm done. This has just gone too far. I will not be returning to this thread.
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LOL whatever suits you! Because I disagree with YOU, I am expressing contempt, when you disagree with ME, it's your opinion. Okey dokey.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 14, 2009
I prefer not to sign in so I don't get contacted, but I will if asked and always identify my buyer agent by name to stop the line of questioning in its tracks. I think the whole idea of asking for IDs negates the concept of an "open" house - you might as well deal exclusively with showings by appointment at that point. Which is a fine approach, but I think you lose potential customers that way.

I appreciate printouts of the MLS listing, everything else is just fluff.

I could care less about snacks and drinks, and go out of my way to avoid them. I'm there to look at the home, not exchange small talk over cookies.

I consider the role of the agent the same of any other salesperson, provide information if needed, but otherwise stay out of the way so I can see the house unimpeded and come to my own conclusions.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is some attitude there, personally I hope you don't come to any my open houses. You aren't very nice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 14, 2009
Open houses are great for getting new business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009
Hi Rob moffatt, Agent in San Francisco:
I have previewed your alrady received many answers. I have been to many different types of trainings. Thre are different concepts for different trainers. I am from teh Bay Area and now working in Humbloldt County. I hae had so many open houses for two single family homes, one high end for our area which would be a entry level home price value in the Bay Area, however in Humbodlt County...many times you will get much more bang for your money. Vales of homes listed are less comparing to other counties. http://www.3372PrairieAve. is 2,340 sq. ft., a modest 2 story with very comfortaable amenities and thoughtful custom rebuilt in 1976 with open spacious floorplan that grew of modest 900 sq. ft. home to the 2,340 sq. ft of spcious comfortable lifestyle. Quality Knotty Pine Interiors, imagine the cost for these interiors today! The home is now vacant. We hae been marketing for 9 months. Market moves slower here in Humboldt County. some properties are selling, low end below $200,000 up to $250,000-$275,000 inventory moving much better as demand for entry level homes with great values and the $8,000 tax incentive is very encouraging. the other market inventory that seems to move more quickly is the new construction, new home communities and newer resale homes with latest up to date modern amenities, and the new construction new home development first time buyer stimulus incentives of up to $10,000 and plus the $8,000 tax credit make those home purchases fairly attractive. The resale modest homes, despite great floor plan and thoughtful details if counters, appliances and cabinets are of 70's or 80's trends such then I find the people that fall in love with my active listing like and enjoy the qualify craftmanship of the stronger older built homes. They value different amenities that meet their needs. The value the stylish painted tiles of yesterday that are still a popular trend on the east coast and in Europe. Floor plan works, open and spacious. Home values are interesting, a new home of less square footage here in Eureka can still be purchased for $300,000 thousand more or less for 1400-1700 sq. ft. While larger square footage is $440,000 - to higher depending on town, neighborhood. So when pricing price per sq. foot even for comapareable sold homes in resale the value still shows higher than average price sold in our city of Eureka, and like of others.
Back to thought of open houses. ..I have participated in so many. I have four scheduled this week alone- same property I have been holding open week after week for that one right buyer. My sellers have reduced many times to meet the demand of the market. My first brokers open I gave Christmas bags of treats and sweets, wanted to provide hot cider, but the way they hold their meetings in our area, I would have had to come at 8:00 am start the crockpot, leave and go the meeting to present, and come back for tour. We tour together all properties presented. So agents are in and out in just a few minutes...no time to linger and talk, every one is off to next property. All the fuss is hardly valued and apreciated, if done perfectly ailinates the other brokers, because they would have to commit to that extra cost of time and expense. I did not find that particularly valued by many. I would do it again as special treatment to say thank you for coming, and show my sellers I tried to do a little extra. In the weeks of open houses since, my sellers have vacated and the home shows very nice. Very modest staging, very clean, classical music, no treats. I always have water. In passt I have provided water with my marketing label, May do it again. when people come I always greet them with a smile. There body language let''s me know how personable they feel comfortable. Some people have their guard up, and I'll talk less, that is when I let them roam a little more independently. A fact sheet with loan options, mls, amenities. I try to point out some wonderful features they may over look just breezing through.Ask Questions. My job is to market, sell and establish relationship. Many times they have their own buyer, someone is a relative. I 'm so greatful to work with team player as the buyers agent. Other people are very talkative, allow me to walk with them and share little details with excitement.. Empathy for their needs. I try to back off to a point and let them feel the home, let the home talk to them. They will always let me know how well they like the home by their expressions, body language, finally their feedback either prior to leaving, or in followup afterwards. For those that feel comfortable to provide email, telephone number, or address I can stay in touch with price reductions. Some guests have their agent, so dont want discussion, prefer to be shy and dont want to be imposed on. Think, this is my sellers home, they should know who is guest in their home as common courtesy. Open house is an invitaton. Follow up is Respectful.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
I didn't say you had to agree with me. Now you're just putting words in my mouth. You're showing alot of contempt for everything I'm stating. Whether or not you agree, this IS an opinion thread (seemingly geared to the general public) and as previously stated, I expressed my opinion thusly. I respect your thoughts, you should give me the courtesy of doing the same whether or not those thoughts or opinions differ from your own.

The others expressed their differing opions in a calm respectful manner however, I can't help but feel as if I'm being attacked by you for an opinion of all things!

I'm done. This has just gone too far. I will not be returning to this thread.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
Again, I'm not trying to argue here but your last statement enters an entirely different area altogether. I assume for those (multi)million dollar homes you'd also be checking ID at the front gate before allowing anyone to enter the perimeter of the home. In this case its completely understandable and even expected. My earlier comments were geared more so towards the modestly priced homes. There's no reason to treat a 200k home like fort knox.

This was an opinion thread and I expressed my opinion accordingly, thats all. There's really no reason to continue to bicker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 5, 2009
Curious Newb, I’m not trying to be abrasive either, but maybe you ought to find a different method of searching and researching homes if the precautionary measure we take for our own safety and in our clients behalf rankly you so much.

In answer to your questions, no, you wouldn’t get in without a photo ID in many places. Do you think in the Hamptons or Beverly Hills you’d get into a multimillion dollar house without showing ID? Going with a “gut instinct” about a person is great, but when the house gets robbed later or I am found dead in the basement regrets won’t help the situation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 5, 2009
My point of view of the open house is that it is one of the few opportunities for folks in, or entering, the market to mingle and exchange information. Much of what drives the market is the perceptions buyers and sellers have and I'm always curious what's on their mind and perhaps where their information is coming from. Apart from that I'm hoping I have information and recourses they might be looking for. I think a few quick questions are necessary to discover if the visitor is experienced or perhaps wants a little guidance. Many of the folks I work with I've met at open homes. Meeting a realtor in person (for me meeting a possible new client in person) is a quick way to find out if it's a good match. I have noticed that when the home is prepared well, and the price is right, folks tend to hang out and want to talk more.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 4, 2009
Regardless that doesn't mean that the prospective buyer will be truthful on your forms. I have yet to put my correct phone number in the requested information section for the simple fact that I don't want to be pestered with spam (which ALWAYS seems to occur whether or not the agent tells you otherwise). I in no way am attempting to be abbrasive but in fact offer an honest opinion and possible suggestions from another point of view. There's a give and take that has to occur. In my opinion, some precautionary measures seem to be going a bit far. Although I wouldn't mind providing my ID, what if they don't have ID on them, does that mean they wouldn't be permitted to tour the home? Will you be installing metal detectors at the entrances and searching bags upon departure as well? I know I'm being a little extreme but really how far is too far? we can go on all day with this. I've toured homes that had rooms locked because the Seller did not want their privacy invaded. This defeated the purpose of our being there as we were not permitted to tour the home in its entirety. I understand where you are coming from but in the same regard you have to understand what its like in a Buyer's shoes. Just a suggestion but you may want to try touring a few out of the area open houses yourself. Dress casually, don't introduce yourself as an agent/broker but as a prospective buyer to analyze other agent mannerisms and tactics. When you come to see a home the last thing you want is someone attacking you with questions, no matter how seemingly innocent in nature or spouting off facts at every turn i.e. "those are oak cabinets" "Thats a new roof the seller had installed 2 years ago" "This bathroom was just remodeled"... all of that info can be presented in writing on a take home flyer. Again, just a suggestion. Take it with a grain of salt, I by no means am a professional in the field.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 3, 2009
I actually disagree with Joan. Fist the seller should remove all valuables and actually most of their personal items. The house ceases to be thier home when it is on the market. It is a product for sale. I never have people remove thier shoes or place any restrictions on the buyer getting comfortable in the home. (Well one time I had a group of about 15 people climb out of a van and a car, all in Sunday best. They split up inside the house and no one spoke English. They were there for too long so I had to walk through the home and I found them laying on the beds sitting on the chairs and and looking for intents to have moved in. Them I had to herd out the door politely).
I don't follow people around at all I stay at the door and greet the incoming and talk to exitinig groups. I only allow one egress to the property so that no one can leave without me seeing them go.

Oh and Curious it was a compliment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 2, 2009
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Curious,
I appreciate what you say about not wanting agents following you around. Frankly, before I became an agent I also much preferred touring on my own. Its more relaxing, less intimidating and possibly even more enjoyable.
Now that I'm an agent, I am hyperaware that I am allowing strangers to come into someone's sanctuary and what a huge responsibility it is. If more than more buyer is there at a time, I politely ask them to wait by the refreshments and feel free to read any information about the house that I have on display and I will be with them shortly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 2, 2009
Uh thanks Jed, I think?

I'm not a real estate pro just a paralegal who happens to be a first time home buyer. My husband and I have been looking since March and have seen homes ranging in size, style, price and asthetic ambiance. what I listed was what I found based on personal experiences.

As for the role of the agent. Again, I think the listing agent should be available to answer questions but not necessarily at tour guide level either. I want to be able to picture myself living in a space without someone interrupting that train of thought. My best suggestion is to make yourself blend. After the initial introduction, just stay out of the way. Keeping to the central living space might be best. If its reporting back to the Seller that you're concerned about, again the questionnaire may be suffice and it'll offer the opportunity to have feedback in writing to refer back to at a later date.

I understand that you naturally want to connect but as your making "connections", you're also disconnecting the prospective buyer from the reason for their visit, the home. Their concentration is now centralized on you and your discussions.

As for your concerns Joan, how about working in teams for the larger or multi-level homes? I know its an unconventional take on a problem but having an agent localized to a section or level may also help. Also, the Seller should be taking some precaution in removing visible jewelery, money or other valuables. Whether or not your present, the seller is taking a risk. What if you have multiple individuals touring the home at once, you can't be expected to follow them all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 2, 2009
Curious answered almost professionally for a newbie. It is almost as if the answer were written by a pro under an alias.
The only thing that wasn't answered is the one most professionals struggle with. What is the role of the agent at the home?
New describes the ambiance and is right on the money but never goes to, what is the role of the agent, beyond handing out information sheets and being there to answer questions?
I'm there to sell the house first. Second I'm there to make connections with people in the market and I want to have conversations with them about real estate. I am definitely not going hold anyone hostage if they don't want to talk but I am not going to sit in a chair and watch a ballgame or read a book while a member of the public is in the house. I don’t do sign ins, but you will be required to introduce yourself in a polite way and I am going to find out what brought you to the house and who you are, minimum. That’s what the seller deserves to have reported back after the open house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 2, 2009
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
I forgot a couple.

Curb appeal is a biggie. Mention to the Seller that all weeds should be pulled, lawn mowed, hedges trimmed, driveway & sidewalks swept, raked or plowed or else you may inadvertantly be turning away prospective clients before they even see the interior.

Remove any wild, loud or out of the ordinary items, they may become a big distraction taking away from the home itself.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 1, 2009
Rob, as a curtesy before any else sees your post, you mispelled information.

Cheers,

Tap
http://www.DavidTapper.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 1, 2009
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