Opinions about whether to hold an open home vary greatly amongst real estate agents and sellers, too. You’ll hear real estate agents flatly refuse to hold open homes because they view them as a wasted marketing effort, or they’ll say open homes are just a tool to find the agent new clients. And they take up the whole weekend!
There is some truth to this, but open homes sell houses. Nearly all of my listings sell at open homes. Many buyers find it more convenient to visit an open home at the weekend, and do not feel as though there is any pressure from a real estate agent showing them property. A buyer can decide to attend several open homes on one day and get a good overview of the market.
And sellers find it more convenient, too. A sellers know that the open home is a scheduled time, and that is the time the property is shown to buyers. Some of my sellers choose to make the open home the only time that the property is shown to buyers, maintaing security, privacy and a level of control over when people visit.
Although not all homes are candidates for an open home due to location, condition or competition in the marketplace, you won’t know how much buyer traffic you will get until you try. Exposure to potential buyers and to individuals who will talk about your home to others is almost always worthwhile.
Best Time for an Open Home
In many communities, Sunday afternoon is best, but in others, it’s Saturday. Occasionally if the home is close to a school, mid week can be productive.
30 minutes is typically the minimum, but some home are held open for 2 hours, for example, a lifestyle block.
Some agents will swap open homes with a colleague, in order to get time off, or if they are particularly busy. Others will do one open home during the week, and another on the weekend.
Schedule your open house to avoid conflicts with holidays, community celebrations or special events such as a Test match.
In Auckland, with our changeable weather, it is very difficult to plan an open home around the weather. Sometimes, wet days can be very productive as buyers check a home to see what it is like on a miserable day. Fine weather can be difficult; everyone goes to the beach! In Auckland and the North Shore, when buyers want a home, they will generally view it whatever the weather.
Properties that are overpriced, or are priced “by negotiation” with a small or no advertising budget have little chance of attracting buyers.
If you are conducting an open home, make sure that you have a good marketing plan, with good advertising and a good price or deadline. An open home is just one element in a good marketing plan, make sure you have got it right!
A sign advertising your open home is an absolute minimum!
Most of the real estate websites advertise the open home times, and give the real estate agent the option of establishing a schedule. Make sure your agent gives you that schedule, I usually plan a month in advance for each property and advise the seller. An internet advertising an open home with no print advertising will bring buyers, as long as the price is right. I have sold several homes this way.
At Least 7 Days Before Your First Open Home
Before my sellers finish signing the listing agreement, they often ask if I’m going to hold their open home that weekend. After the decision to sell is made, most sellers are eager to get started. However, the home needs to be in prime condition first. Here are few things I suggest doing before holding your first open home:
Host a team viewing. Most listing agents will ask their colleagues to view new listings. If they don’t, then ask them. This is a great opportunity for your home to be shown to many agents who should have buyers ready to view.
If you are selling your home privately, real estate agents will not normally view the property with the intention of showing buyers. This is because New Zealand law prevents real estate agents from selling a property without a signed listing form. Calling a local agent to view your private sale, “in case they have buyers”, may not yield any results.
Move some furniture into storage. Sometimes sellers don’t want to cooperate with home staging. Excuses I have heard are “my furniture is too valuable to move twice,” or “I think the rooms look lovely arranged this way.” But smart sellers prepare a home for sale and move at least one piece of furniture out of every room. It makes the space look larger and more inviting to buyers — to the people whose opinion matters.
Remove items not included in the sale. Telling a buyer she cannot have your dishwasher because it’s too expensive to leave behind or that the ceiling fan does not stay with the house because your father gave it to you serves only to make the buyer demand it. If buyers don’t see it, they won’t want it.
Make arrangements for your pets to leave the house, especially dogs. Selling a home where pets live is difficult enough without advertising the fact that pets live there. Call a family member or friend and ask if they could take care of your pets for a few hours. Pets are also a distraction during an open house, and you want buyers to admire your home, not your cockatoo.
Part of your home marketing should include printing full colour flyers or brochures promoting your home. Make sure you include photographs, specs and pertinent information such as the price on your flyer, because it’s easy for buyers to forget particulars. I usually have a LIM report from the council, title, and a builders report if available.
48 to 72 Hours Before Your First Open House
Make sure that the open home time is on the sign!
Clean the house top to bottom. Vacuum cobwebs from corners, wipe windowsills and wash the windows, inside and out. Forget preconceived notions about cleanliness — pay attention to small details and concentrate on making the home appear sterile.
Polish surfaces, appliances and floors to a gleaming shine.
Launder and fluff bedding, towels and rugs.
Touch up spots on the walls.
Sweep out the garage.
Prune bushes, deadhead flowers, clean the path and mow the lawn. Check the footpath outside the house, remove any litter.
24 Hours Before Your First Open House
Most of your work should be completed by now, and any anxiety that is sometimes caused by last-minute chores should dissipate. At this point, your home should sparkle. In fact, you may be thinking to yourself that the house looks too nice to sell! Consider if you are truly committed to selling, because if you’re going to experience seller’s remorse, you may as well work through that process before your first open home!
On the Day
Open all the windows to air out the house. If it is a cold day, turn the heating on and make you home cosy.
Give every room the “once over,” by standing in the doorways and scrutinizing the view.
Take a look at the house from the road. Make sure that there are 2 or 3 “directionals” pointing the way to your house, and that a flag is up. Remember that City Council bylaws on the North Shore require that directionals and flags be put up on the day of the open home only.
Arrange flowers in attractive vases and place in appropriate places throughout your home to add color and floral fragrance.
When you’re finished, go out to dinner and reward yourself. Dining out has an added benefit too; at least you won’t be temped to mess up the house!
Your real estate agent will be doing “callbacks” to discuss your home with the buyers. Anyone that showed interest will be given first priority! You should expect to hear from your agent immediately after the open home; I text sellers immediately after the open home.
Later, you will get a phone call advising the result and a email or letter for a final update. Sometimes a face to face meeting is warranted; especially if there is an offer! Sometimes the agent will have advice on how things can be improved, and you may have some issues to discuss with the agent.