How to Have an Open House

August 17 2014

Ready for your open house?

The best time to put a house on the market is either in early spring or early fall. Before these times, real estate agents are busy with clients, dotting I’s and crossing T’s, making sure homes are staged and last-minute fixes are fixed.

Use these techniques at your open house:

  • Your real estate agent should use the latest technology to advertise your open house. Bigger real estate companies such as Coldwell Banker offer bigger reach on their websites. Are you on MLS? You should be, because that’s how other real estate agents find out about the current open houses. Also, sites like Trulia and Zillow download current information from MLS so that your open house will be automatically on those sites, too. Buyers are computer-savvy and will be looking for what houses they want to see on sites like these.
  • The photographs of your staged home will be what initially attract buyers. The agent will most likely have a sharp camera that can show your home well. Good lighting for the photography session is essential, as is a blue sky for the outside shot! (And a lovely seasonal wreathe for the door.) Do you have an outdoor porch? Before the picture is taken, decorate the table with linens, glassware, plates and flowers in a vase.
  • Speaking of flowers: For the open house, have a vase full at the table where you lay out the home’s listing information and sign-in sheet. It’s essential to offer listing information that explains the features of the home in words and professional-quality photographs. When the potential buyer leaves, this information will serve to jog their memory and will help your home stand out. For example: “Oh yeah! I loved that upstairs bathroom!”
  • Use a sign-in sheet that asks for name and email. Also important to find out: Are the buyer pre-approved? If they are, it’s a signal for you that they could be a serious buyer and not a neighbor you haven’t met before.
  • But neighbors are good to have around at an open house! Have your real estate agent drop off flyers that advertise your open house in the neighborhood. It’s always good to have a busy driveway full of people, and it helps to create a buzz.
  • Food: Many agents go the distance and offer refreshments during an open house, such as home-baked chocolate chip cookies and mini water bottles. If you’ll be putting your home on the market during the fall, you may want to include an apple crisp (with fall paper plates and napkins) and some warm (not hot) cider in a big pot on the stove. Add cinnamon sticks to the pot and use a ladle to pour into coffee cups. With a slight chill in the fall air, and the smell of cinnamon and cider and cookies in your kitchen, doesn’t that sound wonderful? Bake the cookies right before the open house and don’t bother with the flour sack – too much mess before your big day! Use the cookie log from the freezer section. Why all this fuss? One of the best ways for your agent to spend time with potential buyers is when buyers are munching on delicious apple crisp in your staged kitchen (no magnets on the clean fridge!). They’ll hear more information about the neighborhood, town and schools if they’re not looking into closets but at your real estate agent, whose own sunny demeanor will inspire them to come back and take a second look.

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