By Debi Benoit
Public open houses are one of the most useful real estate tools employed to sell a home. One recent statistic put out by the National Association of Realtors that said that 1 in 10 buyers find their dream house at an open house. In this current market, that number is possibly even larger. Every Sunday many real buyers, some unrepresented by real estate brokers, drive around town and drop in to see what’s on the market. If you’re in real estate and you’re not out there doing open houses, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Sunday open houses are like a big party! They can more than just fun, they can actually be very funny, even horribly funny at times. Here are a few examples of open houses from over the years to show you what NOT to do if you want to sell your home:
Unprepared…I arrive at my new listing, a large newish Colonial, about 15 minutes early, to find three to four couples already parked in front, eager to come in. As I go through the house, turning on lights, I hear the sound of water running. Much to my horror, I find Mrs. Seller in the shower. She’s running a bit late…but no worries, let them come in! Sadly, none of that first group of buyers even got a glimpse of the master bedroom!
Too personal…On a similar vein, I am once again going room by room to make sure the house is in open house condition and I get to the master bedroom walk in closet only to find peekaboo portraits staring at me from every wall and shelf! Sellers take heed, you are not for sale here!
Too wet…This time no one is to blame. It’s a beautiful day, I’m heading to the lower level, and the lovely new carpet is under about a foot of water. Sadly, the extra-large water tank chose this very morning to fail and its contents covered the entire basement.
Pets and more…I like animals well enough, but not at open houses. At best, pets are distracting. Buyers leave an open house where the family dog is gentle, obedient and sweet and all they remember about the house is the dog. At worst, buyers run from the house in fear, sneezing with allergies, holding their noses. I’ve seen talking birds screeching obscenities at guests, cats slinking around ankles and darting for the door. I’ve also seen dead mice still in their traps, bats in the attics and ant traps set all over kitchen counters…just not very appealing or conducive to selling the house.
Suspicious and creepy…When buyers walk through a house, they want to see the whole house. Locked doors, even in the most benign situations, make the buyer feel you’ve got something to hide. Never throw all your mess in a bedroom and lock the door, keep a grouchy dog in the mudroom and lock the door, store your guns in the den and lock the door. Instead, throw up the blinds, open the curtains (and the doors), turn on the lights! Make the house look inviting!
Dangerous and addictive…This little tip is not so funny. In all my years of holding open houses, I have never had to deal with a robbery but recently experienced an issue regarding prescription drugs. I always tell my sellers to clear their medicine cabinets and bedside tables of any and all pain killers or anything that might tempt an addict. It is very rare, but it can happen.
So sellers, put your flowers on the table, air out the house and turn on some soft jazz…it’s party time!