There’s more to conducting an open house then planting a sign and leaving the door unlocked for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. In this how-to article, we will break down the do’s and don’ts of holding a successful open house.
For the most part, listing agents hold open houses for two self-serving reasons: the seller expects the hired agent to hold them because it was part of their “master marketing differentiating pitch” and it’s a way for the agent to find new buyer clients for other properties. Top producing agents do not spend their time sitting in someone’s home waiting for nosey neighbors and unqualified buyers to show up. This isn’t to say open houses are completely self-serving. A good agent who understands the psychology of real estate sales and the mindset of today’s buyer should know how to handle buyer objections before they are brought up.
There’s a lot of psychology in real estate marketing so keep this in mind as you hit each bullet point below. If you have any preconceived notions about how to conduct an open house because you have seen them on reality TV, toss these thoughts in the trash and proceed. Following this information will make a huge difference if you are selling by-owner or if you are a real estate agent who is looking to improve your skills. The points below are just the tip of the iceberg but this information should help you think outside the box.
- Only hold open houses on Sundays. Do not hold more than one open house during the week. There’s a lot of value in limiting access. The rule of scarcity should never be ignored when marketing real estate. The scarcity heuristic is a mental shortcut that places a value on an item based on how easily it might be lost. You also don’t want to be that home in the neighborhood known for having open houses every weekend. Doing so will make you look like you don’t know what you are doing. Desperation attracts sharks like bloody water. If you want low-ball offers this will do the trick every time.
- The most popular open house time is 1-3pm. Never do an open house for longer than 2 hours. See point 1, less is more. If you live in an area with a popular NFL team be sure to check the season schedule for game times and schedule your open house around the game. (See 2018 Patriots schedule.) If you need to hold the open house during the game, make sure the TV is on for all who are visiting the open house. This will keep fans who got pulled off the couch from checking their phone every 5 minutes. Live sporting events also make for good topical ice-breakers.
- Perception is everything. Another goal of an open house is to get every prospective buyer into the home at the same time. If people see loads of cars outside and a lot of interest inside, their impulsive behaviors will heighten. Although humans are not hardwired to think like sheep, they tend to follow the herd when they see a certain level of interest. People tend to want what others want.
- The visitor registration sheet is important. First off, you want to know who is entering your home and it’s a great follow-up tool. It’s also a critical element to determine a questionable procuring cause (ie. RDFN buyer who has yet to meet their agent.) Use it to get honest feedback. Most people will say nice things in person. People tend to be more direct when not in front of you. Give prospective buyers a reason to not put in a fake email address or scribble. Tell them you will email additional information like the seller property information disclosure, monthly expenses, renovation costs, and/or estimates. Get the point?
- Tidy up your property and keep it clean. If you are an agent press the seller to tidy up. Again, perception is everything. To put things into perspective. Let’s say we have two identical homes next to each other. Everything is exactly the same except house ‘A’ is orderly and clean while home ‘B’ is unorganized and cluttered. Guess which one will sell quicker and for more money? That’s right, home A.
- Greet, ask visitors to sign-in and back-off. Let the buyers roam. Do not hover or tell your life story. Yes, we know you are proud of your home, but people just want to see the property. Open houses are awkward enough so giving visitors space and keeping a distance can be beneficial. If they have questions the prospective buyer(s) or their agent will circle back.
- If you are a real estate agent or seller – dress down. Suits and residential real estate went out of style in the late 1990’s. Your attire should mimic your prospective clientele/demographics. If your listing is in a trendy spot in a hip building, dress as-if… Be relatable.
- Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. Sellers should make sure their homeowner insurance is in good standing and covers accidentals and personal injury. Depending on your state, agents should have an Errors & Ommissions policy in place. Never let prospective buyers roam into areas such as attics and rooftops unless you know they are safe. Posting a do not enter sign in areas that should not be entered is a good idea.
Always keep in mind that you are letting strangers into your home.
- If female, do not work an open house alone. While we don’t condone the use of illegal weaponry, we do believe in self-protection. Pepper Spray is always a good choice. Click here to purchase from Amazon.
- Sellers should remove all items of value that can fit in a pocket. Trust no one. Strangers are entering your home.
- Remove all medications to prevent theft. Your bathrooms will be used.
- Do not light scented candles or cook a curry meal the night before your open house. The sense of smell is often too memorable. This is not the time to create a memory for your prospective buyers.
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