Getting a Buzz: Why Open Houses Still Work

by : Jim Hirschman

Open houses are the traditional method for generating buzz for a property. While most sellers see this as a valuable way to market their homes, some view open houses as a waste of time. Neighbors and curious passersby flock to your home and stroll around, eyeing up your private living space. Many of these people have no intentions of buying your house. This can be dangerous, as some lookie-loos are actually thieves, wanting to case out your home.

Some agents prefer to hold private open houses, where other agents in the area tour the home, keeping their clients in mind. This is beneficial for both the buyer and the seller. The buyer gets inside information about a property from their agent as soon it is placed on the market. The seller has the advantage of not having to worry about opening their doors to just anyone off the street.

So why bother with a public open house? Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool, especially in the world of real estate. Curious neighbors may not be in the market for a new home for themselves, but they can (and often do) recommend your property to friends of theirs who are looking to move into the area. This kind of matchmaking costs nothing, and can bring in a solid offer on your house.

A well-attended open house can garner more offers, and possibly higher offers from buyers. The more people that view your home during an open house, the more it can create a atmosphere of competition. It looks like your home is a hot property and that interested persons would do well to make their offers quickly.

When you do decide to hold an open house, there are certain things you should do to make sure that it goes smoothly, and that your home is presented in the best possible light.

Clean, clean, and clean some more! Remove any clutter, and be sure to give bathrooms, countertops, and floors a decent scrub. Nothing will turn off buyers faster than a dirty home. They can't envision themselves living there if your mess is everywhere.

Lock up all your small valuables. While a good agent will escort visitors around the home, they can't be everywhere at all times. Expensive jewelry, money, and small high-tech devices like mp3 players can easily be slipped into a thief's pocket, so be sure to keep them out of sight.

Take your family, and leave for the duration of the open house. While you may feel that you are the most equipped to answer questions and to promote your home, your presence will make visitors feel like they are trespassing. You will also inhibit your agent, who has years of experience, and selling skills. Trust your agent to do his or her job, and have a pleasant afternoon out with the family.

On that same note, be sure to bring your pets when you leave. Barking dogs will distract potential buyers. Also, make sure that any kitty litter pans are emptied, pet hair is picked up off furniture, and that the house smells fresh and clean. You don't want odors to make a bad first impression.

As a potential buyer, when you attend an open house, be sure to respect the fact that you are entering someone else's home. Take off your shoes, refrain from smoking, and don't touch personal belongings. If you bring your children with you, be sure to keep a close eye on them, and do not let them wander the house unsupervised. It's unsafe for them, and inconsiderate to the homeowner.

If you are a curious neighbor, don't be afraid to tell the agent on hand. It is perfectly acceptable that you are looking at the house because as mentioned earlier, many sales come from word of mouth. Also, by telling the agent the truth, you won't waste their time and keep them from truly interested buyers.

Sign the register when you enter. By signing this paper, you are simply helping the agent keep track of how many attendants there were, along with their names. This information helps the seller in case of theft.

Open houses have long been a staple in the real estate industry. While they have fallen out of favor somewhat in recent years, open houses can still be a gold mine for creating potential leads. Give your home some exposure and create some buzz about your property. Good word of mouth can lead to your house being sold quickly, and for the price you want.