Sellers - What You Should Know About Open Houses

For some real estate companies, an open house is part of their marketing strategy. The more potential buyers you can get to view your home, the better chance you have of selling. Open houses can provide instant feedback to sellers as well as word of mouth once neighbors know it's on the market. Though rare, there is the remote possibility the seller's agent may find a buyer through an open house.

Reasons to be concerned with an open house:

  1. You get "lookie lou's" trying to pick up decorating hints.

  2. You get nosey neighbors just wondering how your house looks on the inside.

  3. You get real buyers who were attracted by your open house sign, but need a home in a different price range, or different size (which is a benefit to the agent holding the open house).

  4. Security of your possessions.

  5. Leaving small, portable valuables lying around during open houses is an open invitation to thieves. Either put expensive jewelry, precious coins, rare stamps and other small valuables in a safe deposit box, or in a place out of harm's way.

  6. Liability. Have your agent discuss liability issues. What are the consequences of someone suffering an injury during your open house?

You and/or your agent may consider holding an open house and there are a number of things to do beforehand:

  1. Boost curb appeal. Mow the lawn, manicure the landscape, and plant colorful annuals. Make sure your walkway and front porch are clear of clutter and debris. Spruce up the front door, either with fresh paint, or a seasonal wreath, or even install new hardware.

  2. Clear the clutter. Nothing turns off prospective buyers more (or will get neighbors gossiping) more than a house in disorder. Clear any containers, get rid of knickknacks, limit the number of family photos and personal items on display. If you have too much furniture, put some of it in storage. Don't crowd your closets. The fewer clothes hanging in them, the larger closets appear.

  3. Get down to the nitty gritty and clean every corner of the house. Don't forget the windows! This is the one time you'll want to be sure everything is sparkling.

  4. Turn on soft music.

  5. Make sure everything is in working order. If that door handle has been loose, or the dishwasher doesn't work, then it's time to fix it.

  6. Pretty up. Place fresh flowers in several locations throughout the house. If it's fall or winter, have a fire burning in the fireplace.

  7. Make it smell good. Nothing is more welcoming than the smell of a freshly baked apple pie or chocolate chip cookie. Bake something yummy just before the open house.

  8. Have somewhere to go. The sellers should never be present.

Finally, ask for others' advice before having an open house. Get suggestions on what can be improved. Is there too much furniture? Should the carpets be cleaned? Sometimes it's difficult to look at our own homes objectively when we see it day in and day out.