Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How to Sell a House - Part Eight - The Open House

Now, despite all the dire warnings from so many people, I believe in open houses and I sell through them.

The open house is meant to attract people who want to look without making it a grand experience. The buyer doesn't have to call anyone, simply show up and walk through the front door. A friendly greeting to the agent is polite, signing in with a real name and number is expected, and then the buyer gets to see the house, usually in his or her own time. That's how I do it.

First to come in usually are the neighbors. Often the owners say they don't want people "snooping." I see it as an opportunity for the people on the street to check out the house. If the seller has made it as beautiful as it can be, and everyone agrees it shows well - what's wrong with sharing it with friends and acquaintances? They have friends, too. If they like the house they will tell others and so on. Neighbors are good things!

The real buyers come at the first open house,which is why pricing is so important, right bfrom the beginning. They are the ones who have been watching the neighborhood either online or through an agent, or by driving around. The Open Sunday sign that goes out on the For Sale sign early in the week gears them up to look forward to seeing the house. They are primed and ready. They could come in earlier, but if they know they can casually approach the house then it's an easier introduction.

As a selling agent, I like having people milling about all at the same time. They comment on things - last week I heard a very audible "Awesome!" from upstairs. There's also the sense that if the buyer does not act quickly, the smiling guy they passed on the stairs will take the house away from them.

Open houses are also the time for friends to check out houses for other friends. It happens very often, that the principle buyer will not come but will send someone who likes looking at houses to check it out. There's no need for phone calls, just dropping in and being pleasant for a few minutes, then reporting back.

There's nothing like a successful open house! People go up and down, discuss what they like - and what they don't like - place furniture. The kids who go through claim their rooms (but they do that anyway, any time they go through any house!) Feedback is fairly instantaneous. I can watch and see what attracts attention - the stainless steel refrigerator? The mud room? The decorating? It literally is seeing the house through someone else's eyes - an invaluable tool!

After the open house I generally follow up but I don't become the dreaded "pushy agent." Sometimes I send out cards or e-mails, at other times I call. Often there's a question I can answer or a thought that can be completed. I call agents if their clients came through and wrote on my sigh-in sheet "Represented by ___________________." Many times the agents have no idea their clients have gone through any houses.

I have an open house scheduled for this weekend on Sunday, the 19th, from 1:00 to 3:00 in Skaneateles. Look for it in the paper or online: 3862 Highland Avenue, 3 BR, 3 car garage, inground pool - $279,000. Tell me you read my blog and you will make my day!