Real Estate Open House Tips

By: Steve Gillman

The real estate "open house" is supposed to be a good way to sell your home. But most of the time it isn't very effective. The first thing to ask yourself, then, in preparing for an open house, is whether you really want to have one.

You see, an open house is a prospecting tool for the agent more than a way to sell your home. Many experienced real estate agents won't even host their own open houses. They have less experienced agents host them, as I did many times as a new agent. By the way, a listing agent gives up a good chunk of his commission if the hosting agent sells the home, so would he give away that opportunity if homes were commonly sold from open houses?

My first open house was a lakefront home which was too expensive for most of the visitors that came. They wanted to dream, while their kids ran around the home and yard, getting in the seller's things, and I ran around trying to keep track of where everyone was.

I didn't sell the house, which was okay, my office manager explained. Selling the home wasn't the point. The point was to get a list of several prospective buyers and their phone numbers - those who had signed in at the open house. Having discovered what some of them were looking for, I could possibly sell them something.

Should you let dozens of people who aren't qualified to buy your home track their muddy feet through it then? Probably not. Agents mostly suggest it because it is a tool for them, and to prove that they are doing everything they can to sell your home. Of course, any additional exposure of your home can increase the odds of it selling. So if you do decide that you want those muddy feet in your home, prepare in a way that protects your home and helps sell it.

Preparing For An Open House

Hide the valuables, for starters. No matter what they say, an agent can't watch all the visitors all the time. Parents may bring kids, so put easily-broken things somewhere safe. Have a good rug at the front door, and consider putting up a sign that reads, "Please wipe your shoes." In any case, it shows that this is a house that is cared for.

Have a list of answers to the most likely questions about the house. Give this to the hosting agent. Also brief him on any unusual things about the house, or anything he might not have known.

Of course you should clean the house. You may even want to enhance the atmosphere with some flowers and the smell of fresh-baked bread. Finally, if you can, why not leave a hidden camera running to see what really happens at a real estate open house.

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