How to Have a Successful Open House

When considering the process of marketing and selling a home, what first comes to most peoples’ minds is having an open house.  To be completely honest, according to the 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 46% of home buyers used open houses as a means of searching for homes, and less than 2% of home buyers actually end up purchasing a home they visited during an open house. Statistically, open house do not typically lead to sales, however, they do provide an opportunity to expose your home to the public.  Sometimes, even the open house advertisement alone can generate some excitement and inquiries on the home, which is a great benefit in itself.

Assuming your home is clean and inviting, priced correctly, and located in a high traffic area (automobile, bike, or foot!), these tips will help to improve the odds for success at your open house.  As you will see, making a few changes or putting a little effort into some minor details can make all the difference.

  • Advertise online, as statistics show that the majority of open house guests end up there as the result of seeing an online advertisement.  Craigslist, Twitter, and Facebook are resources I have found very effective. Write colorful, descriptive ads, and be sure to list your contact information in case someone has a question about the home or needs further information about the open house.
  • Include a map or directions with your advertisements.
  • Attach balloons to open house signs on busy streets, as this attracts attention to the signs.
  • Always display a sign in the corner of the busiest intersection closest to the home.  (Be sure the arrows are pointing in the right direction!)
  • Arrive early to prepare the house for guests.  Make sure the counters are clear, the rooms are tidy, and the house smells good and is inviting, with its best features showcased.
  • Remove all vehicles from the driveway, and ask neighbors to help out by not parking in front of the house.
  • Open all the drapes, blinds and window coverings to let the maximum amount of light in.
  • Turn on every light in the house, except lights that produce noise.
  • Turn on soft music to help set a mood and eliminate uncomfortable silence.
  • Have flyers available with quality photos and reasons for a buyer to purchase your home.
  • Bring relevant materials for potential buyers. Try to have information on comparable homes, including active, pending, and sold homes in the area. Provide market statistics on the neighborhood you are in and information on the general real estate market. The helps you to demonstrate your knowledge of the market and also to back up the price and condition of the home.
  • Put out flyers that contain financing options so buyers can readily determine their monthly mortgage payment.  I also like to keep a mortgage calculator available on my laptop.  Here is one that I find particularly useful: http://www.financebuddy.com/calculator/mortgage.html
  • Serve refreshments and snacks or, depending on your budget, a catered breakfast or lunch.
  • Be upbeat and cheery, and greet each guest who enters the home.  Find out what the guests are looking for and, if possible, show them why your home fits those requirements.
  • Finally, ask for feedback.  Ask each buyer what they thought of your home if they would consider buying it. Real estate brokers and sellers are sometimes hesitant to ask for a buyer’s opinion, so just grit your teeth and ask. It’s the only way you’re going to get a direct answer, and the answer just might astonish you. They might decide to sit at the kitchen table and write an offer.  It happens more often than you would think!
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