Holding a $UCCE$$FUL Open House For Quick Sale

If you’re a seller, one of the big issues in holding Open House, is what to do with all your ‘stuff’ (things that you have packed to de-clutter the home) while the property is on the market? Obviously, the seller has to pack sometime and *before going to market* seems like a good time, but where does that stuff go, if it shouldn’t go into closets or the garage?

Let’s backtrack for just a minute, to deal with the packing.

I mentioned that I scanned and destroyed things like pictures that my kids and grandkids had done for me. Over the years (and my kids are now 40 and 35), those items, though treasured, have occupied space in folders, in a filing cabinet or container. Consider all the money you are paying for the real estate, to store these items? Consider the cost of real estate to store things like tax records, monthly bills and statements, receipts etc. These were all the things that I scanned and shredded!

Paying by the pound, when you move a long distance (like we did), makes you stop and wonder if you want to pay for paper to be transported, but in the final analysis, we took the paper, anyway! Of all the scanning and shredding I did, I amassed 25 LARGE garbage bags of paper shreds, which I used to pack things like glassware and other delicate objects, so yes, we took the paper, but in a more usable form!

Once packed, sealed and labeled on both the top and side, the boxes were put aside for storage. We managed to procure a small storage unit close to our home ($60/month – and this was negotiated down from $99/month, by providing competitors prices) where we stored everything that we didn’t want in the house during ‘market time’. What a difference this made!

Now that the house was organized, de-cluttered and clean, we were ready for market!

Flyers: Having a good flyer (I usually use MS-Publisher), with clear photos and a bullet list of features, goes a long way to reminding visitors which house was yours as they will likely see several. I would recommend using the back of the page for things like a list of upgrades and costs, neighborhood information, incentives etc. Also include things like whether your property is FHA approved or cabled for Internet/wireless etc or whether pets are allowed. These things are important to a would-be buyer. Print your flyer on good quality paper, preferably using a laser printer for good resolution.

Pre-Open House advertising: Once listed, the property can be advertised and I have about 25 Internet sites that I advertise my listings on, however 3 days before Open House, I would advise advertising on Craigslist, where photos can be uploaded. Be sure to include the date and time of your Open House. Craigslist does not permit the same advertisement within a 48 hour period, so the day before your Open House, advertise again, with a different title. You will do this because by the third day, your ad will be too far down the list to be noticed.

Post your listing on Craigslist: 3 days prior, 1 day prior and again on the day of your Open House. If you have a Facebook account (and you should have one), advertise your Open House a couple of times to your sphere of influence.

Send post cards of your Open House (if you are a REALTOR®, you can get labels from your Title company) to 200 homes in the immediate neighborhood, inviting them to a special preview. If yours is a quick sale, this will more than pay for itself!

The morning of your Open House, drop invitations to 20 homes on either side of your listing (and 20 on the opposite side of the road) inviting neighbors – they might not be buyers, but they have a vested interest in the community. Firstly, you may pick up a buyer for another property if you are a REALTOR® or you may pick up a listing, but you never know if neighbors have friends or family who might be in the market for your listing.

Signage: This is important! First and foremost you must check with your City Offices as to what the local ordinance is. Some cities don’t allow branded signs, others don’t allow flag or balloons and others (like our City did), require a permit. Some cities limit you as to how many signs you may have or where you may place them. Adhering to the local rules, enables all REALTORS® to continue doing business in peace. Breaking the rules results in ALL REALTORS® not being able to do their job for their clients!

If you are able, post a lot of signs! The more signs, the better! Be sure to use private property and be mindful of disabled people who may not detect your sign jutting out into their path. Definitely place signs right outside the property – 2 or more if you can – with flags, if possible. Post signs from the property, on all street corners, all the way to a main artery (busy road that joins to a freeway) or busy shopping mall, to divert traffic to your Open House. EVERY sign that I have, has a flag to draw attention to it and I aim at 20 signs per Open House!

Gated communities are difficult to show and it is not fair to residents, to leave the gate open all day. Post a notice on the gate, requesting that visitors call you on your cell, so that you (or an assistant) can open – AND CLOSE – the gate after each visitor. If you adhere to this simple rule, you will be more likely to have community owners list with you in the future. Always find out what the HoA rules are before you schedule your Open House.

Remove any flyers from the exterior flyer box if your have them outside! If you do this, you’ll have more people come inside to ask the price and while there, you have the opportunity to talk to them.

Prepare the property: If there are pets, ensure that they are secure and that all waste is picked up. There’s nothing worse than your Open House visitors stepping in poop and tracking it through the house! Also, Fido, might be loving and harmless to the family, but it could be disastrous for both dog and victim, if there were a bite or even torn or soiled clothing.

Check for valuables. Watches, rings and other valuables should be more secure than the top drawer – thieves are smart and often deliberately occupy the agent’s attention whilst an accomplice checks for valuables in another room.

Drugs are the #1 item stolen from Open House! Valium, sleeping pills, cough and cold medications and allergy pills, are stolen from Open Houses more often than they are reported. If these are evident, secure them or, if you think of it before hand, ask your seller to do so prior to Open House. I try to stay with visitors and don’t give them the run of the house.

And then there was light! REO’s often don’t have power but if you represent a seller that has the power connected, turn on ALL lights and open all drapes.curtains/blinds! A bright property looks bigger and more cheerful.

If you are able (you might ask permission), put on a CD or find a suitable music channel on TV or radio. Baroque music is best, because it enables visitors to absorb and retain what the see and told about the property (BTW. Baroque music has been proven to be best to study by, too!). Otherwise, light classical or smooth jazz will do the trick as long as it’s not too loud.

Position is King!: Position yourself between the front door and the rest of the house and not in front of the TV! This way you are available to visitors as they arrive and would-be thieves can’t slip by you. This will also give you the opportunity of introducing yourself, handing them a flyer and asking them to register in your Guest Book (you DO have a Guest Book, right?)

Get off the phone! Realistically, if you have done your advertising and your signage is good, you won’t have time to use your cell phone, but you’ll be surprised how many agents ignore visitors in favor of finishing their call. This is a complete ‘turn off’ to any would-be buyer! Don’t do it! Ask yourself if you are representing your seller, by placing their property on auto-pilot?

Listen! Although you must offer information about the property (don’t forget your disclosures!!), it is more important to ask questions and then LISTEN! Your listing might not be what the buyer is looking for but if you don’t listen, you will never know! The first question to ask is whether they already have a REALTOR®, and if they have signed a Buyer/Broker agreement with that agent. If they have, you must merely show the property and be courteous. Sometimes, buyers will tell you that they have a REALTOR®, just so that you won’t contact them, so I would suggest that you ask for the name of the person they are working with.

Have they been Pre-Qualified for a loan? Many buyers will tell you that they have been pre-qualified on-line – THIS DOES NOT COUNT! I explain to them (politely) that in order to submit an Offer on any property, they must have a letter from a lender, stating the amount they qualify for, to accompany the Offer. If they do not have such a letter, I ask if they would like me to put them in touch with someone who can get them one? If they are receptive, I will call a mortgage person immediately (while they are there) to set up an appointment.

Make sure that you have 3 or 4 mortgage contacts, because some are not available on weekends.

What is their time-line? It doesn’t matter if the buyer is at the beginning of their search – this is the best time to establish rapport, however, if they want to buy immediately, you’ll need to know this. If their projected date is some time in the future, offer to put them on your automated search program, so that they can perform their own searches in the privacy of their homes. Most of these programs come with a button that will notify you if they want to preview a property.

Follow up! This is probably the most important part of holding Open House. BEFORE THE SUN GOES DOWN, call every person who visited your Open House and thank them – you’ll be surprised how much they appreciate this! Make sure that you call them 3 days after your Open House and thereafter about once per week. You’ll be surprised how many of them tell you that you are the ONLY agent who is keeping in touch!

There are many other tips, such as baking fresh cookies at the property to permeate the air with sumptuous aromas, or holding sundowner bar-b-q’s or cheese and wine events for high-end properties, however, we need to deal with the basics first.

Althea Garner
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009


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