The open house – still important when selling a home

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Have you wondered how the open house tradition evolved? Earlier this year, Realtor.com detailed its history. Apparently, the first recorded open house was over one hundred years ago and described as “open for inspection.”  The inspection was held over days or weeks allowing home buyers to inspect the home’s structure, layout, and features. It wasn’t until the 1950’s when the more familiar format and term “open house” took hold (Rachel Stults, A Brief History of Opening Our Homes to Total Strangers (aka the Open House); realtor.com; April 21st, 2015).

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from HouseHunt.com

Transformation of the open house can be gauged along with licensing, sales and cultural trends. If you were selling your home one hundred years ago, having your home open to buyers for a week or two made sense because it allowed prospects to see what they were getting. In a time before licensed home inspectors, the internet and virtual tours; a week of inspection was an important selling tool.

Home buyers are once again taking the time to “inspect” homes through multiple visits; usually initiated at the open house. The internet has empowered buyers to be proactive, giving them the means to search on their own; often visiting open houses without an agent. Seeing a home virtually is just the first step, visiting the home logically follows. The visits give buyers the ability to view the home with their own eyes (not the camera’s); as well as being able to make the all important emotional connection – deciding if they can live in the home.

Regardless of what you hear about the effectiveness of the open house, it’s still an important sales tool. And if you’re planning on having one or several, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

Advertise.  You could say… “if you advertise they will come.” Most open house advertisements have moved away from the Sunday classified section to online real estate portals. I can tell you that when I ask visitors how they found out about the open house, the overwhelming answer is that they saw it advertised online. When setting up your online open house announcement, make sure that there is an enticing and brief description of the home to grab the buyer’s attention.

Make sure the advertised times for your open are accurate. More importantly, confirm your agent is at the home on time, if not early. A common faux-pas is not having anyone at the home when the open house is planned to begin. And unfortunately, a buyer left waiting to get in will more than not move on to the next open house.

Prepare. Organizing an open house offers the opportunity for you to focus on the details. No matter how much de-cluttering you have undertaken prior to listing your home, you can always tidy-up. Additionally, pay close attention to your home’s curb appeal, as it can be the difference between buyers entering the home or driving on.

Finally, make sure your agent is working the open house to sell your home. Agents know that many buyers visit open houses without an agent. And in the past, many agents advocated to have the opens not for the seller’s sake, but instead to build their buyer pipeline. Knowing this, the Maryland Real Estate Commission reminded listing agents a few years ago of their duty to their seller, clarifying their role at the open house.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2015

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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