One of the first things many sellers contemplate when selling their home on their own is holding an Open House. How do you decide if this is a good option for you? If you decide to have one, what are your best methods for marketing, conducting and following up on your event? Let’s break it down one step at a time.
Should You Hold an Open House?
Though it seems like this is the best way to reach the most potential buyers in the shortest amount of time and in a very effective format, your area may not reap such positive results. So how do you know? Think back to the past couple of months. Have you noticed a lot of realtors holding open houses for the properties they have listed? If yes, then absolutely join in and get yours added to the list of upcoming events. If not, then you can be pretty sure that local agents have determined that open houses are typically not effective in your area. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try this method of reaching people but if you do, don’t be disappointed if your result is not what you had hoped it would be and then simply continue with your other forms of marketing.
What Day Will Reap the Most Reward?
If local realtors are typically holding open houses on a particular day, then having yours on the same day will allow you to draw in many of the people who are responding to their advertising simply by putting out lots of signs with arrows aiming them to yours. There is also something to be said for being the only open house out there on a different day as long as your area does draw in buyers and you do a lot of advertising to make sure people know it’s happening. You see most open houses on Sunday so jumping out on a Saturday ahead of the pack might reap you your buyer before they view all the other homes the next day.
Think outside the box! Is your neighborhood having a block wide yard sale? Leave flyers at all the houses inviting folks to a morning Mimosas & Muffins Open House. In a young, trendy area? Have a Saturday event from 4-7 pm with hors deurves and sparkling water in real glasses and create a party like ambiance for both these options. Allow them to see how great your home is for entertaining! For either of these events, have a friend taking care of handing out the food and drinks so that you are not pulled away from greeting your ‘guests’.
Marketing your Event is Critical!
Begin advertising your Open House at least 4-5 days prior to your event so people see it and plan on being there. If you have your home on online sites, ie: BuyOwner.com, MLS, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, etc., use their tools to flag your ad with the details of your event including directions if offered. Don’t assume everyone has GPS. On the afternoon before or early on the day of your Open House, put Open House arrow signs on as many corners as possible aiming people into your area and to your home. Put your address BOLDLY on the signs and make sure they can follow them into your property. Check and see where other open houses are happening on that day and put your signs on those corners to help you grab more people. Put out flyers all over the area in coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores…anywhere that has community boards or will allow you to leave them on their counter. Put your event on sites like Craigslist that have a specific link for Open Houses. Put both photos and a brief description on your flyers and in ads. Cause buyers to choose to come view your home!
Conducting your Open House
Tools: (1) Guest Book thanking them for leaving their Name, Phone # & Email Address so you can follow up for feedback (2) Small Chilled Water Bottles or a Wine Carafe filled with water, mint & cucumbers or water with lemon (3) Cookies…If you don’t have time to bake, put out attractive store bought cookies and warm up a piece of foil with vanilla or almond extract in your oven for a half hour…your home will smell like you’ve been baking all day! (4) Details sheets to give them as they begin their walk through noting room by room upgrades/updates that they can take with them when they leave causing your home to remain in their visual memory (5) Blank contracts so if someone falls in love and wants to make an offer you’re ready!
*Have friends come by and wander through as “prospects” to add a sense of urgency to real buyers. Increase that feeling by having your friends take a blank contract with them when they leave implying an offer is imminent. Fear of loss is a great motivator! Also, if you live alone, it’s good to have a friend or a couple of friends stay with you throughout the event to welcome people if you’re answering questions and to also add to your sense of security with strangers coming into and through your home. ** Make sure and put your jewelry and valuables in a safe location out of view.
Following Up on Your Event
If people have left you their information, don’t hesitate to contact them and thank them for coming to your Open House and ask if they have any questions or would like to view your home again. If they’re not interested, be brave and ask them if they can offer you any feedback regarding their impression of your home. Don’t be offended! Use their response to help you improve your offering to the next prospective buyer. If they loved it but it didn’t fit their needs, ask them to pass on your home information to anyone else they know who might be interested in your area and type of home. Thank them again for their time.
Important To Remember
*Prepare by clearing clutter especially on counters and in closets (if you have a walk-in closet make sure they can walk in; cleaning windows, washing floors and vacuuming carpets; removing pet dishes, beds & toys (if you can’t have your pets stay somewhere else doing your event, make sure they are crated and out of the way) *Be careful to not be pushy or carry on too long when talking with prospects. Give people space yet be readily available to answer questions. *Don’t be offended if you hear someone saying something negative or they don’t walk through your entire home. Your tastes might not be their tastes. Your floor plan might not fit their needs. They are trying your home on for size….it simply might not fit! *Be positive and friendly. If you’re really sad about leaving your home, this is not the time to share that information. It may cause a buyer to fear that you might change your mind somewhere along the road to closing. *Most importantly, relax, take a deep breath, smile and have fun!