Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to Sell a House - Part Seven - The Brokers Open

Your house is ready to be released to the public! You have a price, it's been worked over by both you and the Realtor you've chosen, and you know why and what you want to accomplish.

In our Skaneateles market, the Brokers' Open is usually one of the first things that occurs after putting the house in the multiple listing service. By no means does it have to happen at any time, and each agent treats it differently.

I like to have a Brokers' Open early because statistics show that it is usually another agent who sells the house. The internet is creeping up, but in the current market with people engaging buyer's agents they are the most important element.

Our homes here in Skaneateles are open on Tuesdays, generally 12:00 to 2:00. If I have a home down the lake I like to make it later to allow for people to get there and not need to rush elsewhere. But agents plan to see opens early Tuesday afternoon, so there's no reason to change that.

The house should be prepared again as if for royalty and first impressions. We can't always command the sun to shine, but if the house is warm and inviting it won't matter as much. I like to see the table set for company, fresh flowers if possible in the front hall and elsewhere, a good scented candle burning in the bathroom. Everything needs to be dusted - especially if the sun is going to grace us with its light! In any case, lights need to be turned on to their maximum brightness. Light the fire in the fireplace, put away the kitty litter pans, wash the dishes, make the beds, clean the closets. You never know where anyone will look - and the people coming are professional "lookers."

When I present a Brokers' Open I usually have something light to eat available. In the summer I always have water bottles; in the winter I like to have cookies or chocolate. I don't do the fancy meals that some agents do. It's not my forte and makes me more stressed than they are worth. I have started offering a chance for a gift certificate to either a Skaneateles eatery or store. Leave your card and be eligible for the prize. After the open the owner picks a card from a hat and I deliver the gift certificate. I don't know if this brings more agents, but I like to show my appreciation for them coming to see the house I have open.

Depending on the day and what else is happening - too many houses on open or too few, blizzard or heat wave - generally between 5 and 25 agents come to see the house. They run in and out, up and down the stairs, say hello, leave their cards, and go on to the next. Often they offer opinions about the other houses they've seen that day. Some come with buyers in tow.

Our lives are often very involved with clients and not as much with each other. I enjoy opens because it gives me a chance to see everyone. I also value their opinions on the house and I'm always pleased when they like it. An agent who likes a house is more apt to remember it and seek out a client for it.

After two hours they are all gone. But the occasional comment is excellent feedback to pass on to the sellers. No matter how critical it is, I believe it's important to make the seller aware of the issue in a manner the seller can hear. The agent will certainly tell others, so the seller shouldn't be the last to know.

And there it is - your house is launched!