OPEN HOUSE TIPS
"Show the best room in your house first" is the advice of sale by owner consultant J.R. Paine. He also suggested that instead of naming the rooms -- "Here's the living room" -- remark how much you and your family or friends have enjoyed the room. For example, say, "We really love the fireplace in this living room. We have shared many a cup of cocoa in front of the fire during the cold winter days. We had those bookcases custom built and they sure come in handy if you enjoy reading the way we do."
Instead of talking about the neighborhood in general terms, liven it up with some history -- " We moved here 10 years ago and will miss the wonderful neighbors. Every summer we have a block party and we pull out the charcoal grills and bring the lawn chairs to the Jones' section of the street, down by the park." Or, "this neighborhood is so close to shopping. There is a major grocery chain, a pharmacy, florist and drycleaners. It is very convenient if you don't happen to have a car and need to get some errands done."
Weekend Open Houses require some planning so be sure to allow yourself enough time to advertise and promote them in classified ads and bulletins, post signs and balloons to attract the attention of people driving or walking by, print up your `fact sheets' and get the house in tiptop shape (with special emphasis on 'curb appeal'.)
The best day is Sunday and 1 PM - 4 PM is the time frame used by most real estate agents for their open houses. Many home buyers will plan their itinerary of open houses by location and time, based on the ads in the paper. Make sure your house is on their list. Don't schedule your Open House for important holidays or events (e.g., Super Bowl Sunday) that you know will keep attendance low.
Have a guest sign-in book and don't be offended by nosy neighbors and real estate agents; after all, they may know someone who would be interested in your home. Stow away all valuables and banish kids and pets from the scene as you will want to focus all of your attention on being a good host.
Think about posting a few small neatly lettered signs for special features about your home that may not be apparent to buyers as they preview your home. If it's the dead of winter and you have an exceptionally beautiful garden or patio, put some photographs out by the sign-in book so people can see what is hiding under the snow cover. Don't forget to have community and school information handy as someone relocating to the area will want to learn more about the area.
If you are not comfortable with the financial qualification part of the job of selling a house, consider inviting a mortgage lender to be available to assist buyers at the Open House. They will bring their mortgage literature and may have a laptop computer to use. They will appreciate the opportunity to meet buyers who may need mortgage assistance so even if they don't help the buyers who buy your house, they get leads for other business.
Broker Open Houses
Planning to hold a ``Broker Open" for the agents in your community is a great way to get the word out about your house. Remember that the agents are working with 5-10 buyers and they will be previewing your home as a possible match for their buyers. Offer a prize in a drawing and refreshments (free lunch!!) to draw the agents. Don't schedule it for a weekend. You will want to reserve that time for the public. Give agents plenty of notice (send a fax or mail an invitation with a `fact sheet' about your home) and remember that they are especially busy at the end of the month when buyers and sellers are closing on homes.
Price Reduction Open House
A special "price reduced" public open house announcing the change can bring out new buyers and may cause some to revisit your home. Put up a sign rider or notice on your sign to remind them when they drive up and take the same steps you did before for your open house; it's show time again.
SELL THIS HOUSE!
If you haven't had a chance to see A&E's television show called 'Sell This House', tune in right away so you can see how the hosts turns houses that are not getting offers into homes that shine. Here are 'Roger's Tips' from their web site:
1. Remove clutter, sickly plants, overstuffed closets and personal keepsakes.
2. Break down rooms by keeping essential furniture so each room appears larger. Buyers are looking at square footage, not furniture.
3. Neutralize house so prospective buyers can envision themselves living in the house.
4. Highlight any and all architectural details.
5. Each room must be sparkling cleans as if no one is living there.
6. Eliminate any offensive odors.
7. Appeal to home buyer's senses with flowers and candles.
8. Open drapes and blinds to let in light and showcase views.
If your home is competing with other houses in the area add touches of drama so your home will be remembered.
These hotspots include:
1. Offensive or strong odors
2. Strange odors
3. Dark, cluttered or otherwise untidy rooms
4. Mildew in baths or kitchens
5. Religious or political elements
Lenders Can Help Sell Your Home at Open Houses
An often overlooked resource for home sellers is a local lender. Have you ever gone to an Open House and found that not only the Listing Agent was present, but they also had a mortgage person there to pre-qualify buyers who may be interested?
Many lenders will do this for home owners selling on their own. Obviously I is good for them in that it gives them the opportunity to follow up on the buyers for a loan and it is good for you because they pre-qualify a buyer who may be interested in your property. So needless to say, this is a FREE service.
In addition, most of these lenders are happy to put together a hand out for you that gives a photo and description of your property and what the monthly payments would be at the asking price.
Check your local phone book to track down a lender in your area and ask if they have someone in the area who would be interested in helping you run an Open House. You will be surprised at how many will jump at the opportunity.