Thursday, April 24, 2008

Open House Rules

In resale home marketing, there's nothing quite like the touch-and-feel-the-real-deal of an open house to get buyers to beat a path to your home-for-sale door. It's the resale market's spin on the new home market's model home.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Century-21 proclaims April "National Open House Month" and once programmed its YouTube channel with a related Open House home movies contest.

There's at least one Web site dedicated only to open houses, aptly dubbed

Forbes magazine named San Jose, CA the nation's best city to sell a home, but the local Santa Clara County Association of Realtors didn't rest on its laurels. Its region-wide Open House Extravaganza helps sellers attract more than just looky-loos.

Browsing for housing on the Net is a great way to price homes and hone in on desirable neighborhoods and homes for sale, but there's nothing quite like an invitation to touch and feel the real deal to get buyers to really beat a path to your door.

"Any extra method of exposing the home is vital. An open house can be a great way to get feedback on a house and validate the price. It also exposes the home to buyers who are not currently working with an agent and may not be aware of the home's availability," said David Williams, a real estate agent with Williams Realty in Sandy, UT.

Williams cautions the open house isn't a silver bullet no matter how well-prepared and staged. The event has to be packed with value.

"Many sellers rely upon open houses thinking that more exposure can compensate for value. If the home isn't priced right it can be detrimental to have a flood of buyers walk through if you are squandering the potential an open house provides," Williams added.

Karen Hilgers of RE/MAX Blackhawk Valley in Andalusia, IL says an open house can be a good way to flip hesitant buyers who are already interested in the home.

"It lets those interested buyers know they may suddenly have some competition, and that can be all you need to get an offer on the table," she said.

Open house events can also grab impulse buyers, those who see a house for sale, takes one look falls in love with it, says Jim Merrion, regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois.

Market conditions can also make the open house marketing tool cool.

"I'm not a big advocate of open houses, but in this market I'm doing more of them," said Gwen Broughton of RE/MAX Showcase in Waukegan, IL, during the 2008 market slowdown.

"Sellers want to see you doing everything you can to get their home sold," she said.

Provided the price is right, here's how to make the open house, well, tight, according to RE/MAX Northern Illinois.

• Sunday afternoons are the best times for attracting visitors to an open house. Start early and stay late. (But don't forget, an additional Saturday open house will provide an extra weekend day to avoid alienating those who worship at a house a faith on one day or the other.)

• Mail post cards to invite neighbors and prospects. Also list the event in the local newspaper and on Web sites.

• Be sure the home for sale is as clean and neat as possible for the open house. Empty the garbage cans, clean out the closets, get rid of the clutter and polish the bathroom fixtures. Think model home. Create a neutral scene.

• Real estate agents should attend open houses to be available for questions, to provide property and neighborhood information and to get valuable feedback by watching and listening to potential buyers.

• Selling your own home? Be available, but don't hover. Welcome your guests, hand them an information packet, give them a quick floorplan tour and then let them be on their own. Stay out of sight, but just within reach for any questions.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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