An open house is a scheduled time for the public to check out your home at their leisure. While most buyers who are seriously shopping for a home are working with a real estate agent, a successful open house will draw other active buyers and hopefully lead to a sale. (In fact, 20% of real estate sales actually result from an open house!)
The secret to hosting a successful open house is knowing when to host it, how to stage it, and how to engage with its attendees. With these tips, you can host the open house sellers and their agents dream of…
Choosing the Best Day and Time to Show Your House
As the real estate industry evolves over time and people become increasingly busy, planning the time for an open house becomes more difficult. Instead of attending open houses on the weekends (when it’s convenient for the seller), buyers are opting to schedule private showings at their convenience. In a sellers’ market especially, it can be beneficial to your sale to hold all private showings until after your open house, forcing serious buyers to visit during the specified period.
Sunday afternoon has been dubbed the “best” day to catch ideal buyers (families fresh out of their place of worship or rolling in from a lazy morning). While it remains the industry standard for open houses, don’t feel confined to the tradition. If you are in a community where folks may not be around on the weekend, for example, a less traditional weekday open house may be better. Holidays may also be an effective time to hold your open house– if your community dynamics call for it.
Regardless of what day you hold your open house, DO keep your time frame short. Instead of leaving 3-4 hours for buyers to tour your home, shorten it to 1-2 hours. This way, more people will be at your house at the same time, creating a perception of huge interest in the home. If someone is truly interested in buying, they will be more motivated to make an offer quickly.
Staging Your Home for Success
Once the plans have been made and your open house has been thoroughly advertised, it’s time to prepare your home for its big day. Remember, staging your home simply means arranging and decorating your home in a way that will be appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers. You want to show off the potential of your property, not just what you’ve decided to do with it and generally make your home as impersonal as possible.
Pay attention to areas that need visible repairs, cleaning and decluttering. This includes power washing and cleaning the home’s exterior, removing personal photos and knick-knacks, professionally cleaning everything, neutralizing color schemes with paint, organizing and emptying closets and storage spaces, and cleaning landscaping where necessary.
Once the home has been thoroughly cleaned and repairs have been made, it’s time to assess the furniture and decor. Remember, less is more. When potential buyers come into your home, they want to feel like they have the counter space, storage space, and square footage that they need to work with. Remove additional or “accent” furniture where necessary. Play up windows by removing heavy drapes or curtains and allow as much light as possible into each room. If you or your realtor is unsure how to best stage your home, consult with a local home staging expert or virtual staging agency. (That’s right, even an empty home can be digitally staged!)
Turning Your Guests into Buyers
Before you invite potential buyers into your home, begin thinking of them as guests you are hosting for a gathering. A successful open house creates a welcoming first impression for visitors and appeals to each of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
You’ve already staged your home to be visually appealing to buyers, but how can you go the extra mile? Turn on the fireplace, set the table, and use fresh arrangements and fluffed linens where possible (without cluttering). What to visitors hear when they first arrive? If they are the first or only person through the door, they don’t want to feel jarred by silence or overwhelmed by traffic outside. Play soft music in the background neutralize things.
For most, smells can make or break an environment. Lighting a candle or wax melter can help cover the scent of cleaning products or pets, but can also be irritating for those with allergies. Instead, try diffusing essential oils or simply boiling a pot of apple cider for a more natural scent. If you’re feeling really ambitious, appeal to both smell and taste by baking a fresh batch of cookies before your open house. (Just be careful not to burn them!) Have another small treat available to guests for variety. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature for the season and area you are in. You want to give potential buyers a complete picture of what being in the home is like, and temperature feel is a big part of that.
After the big day has passed, be sure that you or your realtor collects feedback from visitors. This becomes especially important if you don’t get an offer from visitors, and allows you to identify adjustments that need to be made for next time or before the house is marketed further. Even if your open house does not sell the property immediately, it could mean more buzz for your listing and provide essential insight on your home.
Ready to begin planning your open house? AdvantageU Certified real estate agents are experts at holding open houses.