In a time when home buyers and their agents are increasingly using online services to search for homes, some question the value of holding an open house. However, holding an open house provides the opportunity for both welcome and unwelcome visitors to experience what your home has to offer.
Of course, the wanted visitors include home buyers and their real estate agents. The National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2010 (NAR, Washington, DC; Realtor.org) indicates that about 10% of home buyers in 2010 reported finding their home via an open house visit. And although the number of home buyers finding their home by means of visiting open houses has decreased from the 16% that reported in 2004, many home buyers reported that they use open houses as a means of information gathering. Of those home buyers who used the internet for their home search, 47% also visited open houses as an additional source of information.
Although preparing for an open house should not be too much work, since most of your preparation should have been completed prior to listing your home, time should be taken to offer your visitors a memorable home. No matter how much de-cluttering you have undertaken prior to listing your home, getting ready for an open house offers the opportunity to focus on the details.
Attention to the home’s curb appeal can make the difference between having home buyers driving by and having them stop to come inside. No amount of advertising can overcome a home with poor curb appeal; remember that your home’s exterior and yard is like the opening chapter of a story that should be engaging to home buyers.
When cleaning your home, look for trip hazards. Trip hazards can turn the promise of an open house into a potential disaster. Of course, visitors should be informed of home features that present trip hazards, such as irregular stairs and uneven floors. However, other trip hazards are sometimes created by the virtue of an open house: think twice before asking visitors to remove their shoes, as walking around in socks can be quite slippery on bare floors and stairs; new rugs should be secured so they do not slip from under your visitors’ feet.
Certainly cleaning and dusting the home is a given; but since home buyers often find strong odors a turn-off, consideration should be given to odors and their sources. Odors that emanate from such sources as pets, cooking, and even your cologne and perfumes can often linger throughout the day- and sometimes trigger an allergic reaction from a home buyer.
Now to the unwanted traffic: Besides cleaning your home, take precautions to protect your valuables and prescription medications. Every year there seems to be an outbreak of open house thievery somewhere in the country. Think twice before showing off your new flat screen or computer, or laying out the fine china for staging. Thieves can easily visit an open house to not only see what they can fit into their pockets, but to “take inventory” of your valuables for a later score when no one is home. And it’s not always jewelry and cash- some thieves look for prescription drugs that are easily pocketed during their visit.
Your Realtor® can assist you in making your open house successful; prepare equally for the welcome and unwelcomed guests.
by Dan Krell
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