The journey of buying or selling a home is an adventure, thus making it necessary for property owners and potential home buyers to rely on open house tips to close the deal. Preparing to buy or sell a property is a process that requires attention to detail, especially during an open house event. Buyers will walk through the door with critical eyes looking for specific features before making an offer.
North Carolina’s thriving real estate market offers a wealth of options from the famous Triangle region encompassing Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. In addition, the mountain ranges in the western part of the state from Asheville to Cashiers and the cluster of islands forming the Outer Banks region are both trending real estate sectors as more people relocate to the Tar Heel State. So whether you are preparing to host an open house or planning to attend one in search of the best fit to call home, the team at Landmark has assembled a list of helpful tips to make the experience successful.
What to do to prepare for an open house?
An open house is about making the best impression for a potential new owner from the seller's perspective. This is where curb appeal factors into the picture and other aspects of the home that draw a buyer in and become the house's selling point.
Here are a few open house tips for sellers:
Clean – this seems obvious, but it bears repeating; everything must undergo a deep clean. The front steps into the doorway must shine just like the marble countertops in the gourmet kitchen. The best place to start is with a deep and thorough cleaning.
Repairs – If anything needs to be repaired, this is the time to ensure it’s fixed. A broken gutter or a doorknob that sticks all need to be attended to ensure it is in good working condition. An open house is when potential buyers get to open doors and take a good look around.
Declutter – Over time, as items collect in a home, we may not realize it’s a lot of stuff because we become accustomed to it all. However, when planning an open house, decluttering is a critical step, so there is room for potential buyers to visualize their personal belongings in the space.
Remove Personal Items – The children's school pictures over the years make the family room seem warm and cozy but may overwhelm potential buyers during an open house event. Consider packing personal effects to present a fresh canvas where the buyer can visualize their own décor options.
In many cases the home sells itself during an open house as the buyer is able to see rooms, check out the space and how it all flows. It’s their way of confirming the house is a great fit.
Staging a property for an open house is an essential step of how to prepare your house for sale. If the furniture looks worn, outdated, or dirty, a potential buyer may see that as a sign that general or major maintenance has been neglected and problems await. Staging guidelines focus on selling a property and are important to the house marketing strategy when scheduling an open house.
Remember, an open house show puts your best foot forward to attract the right buyer to their dream home. But, of course, everyone coming through the door is looking for different things on a property. Many will check off their list if too many repairs are needed, while others pay close attention to spacious rooms or frown if things appear dated. Finding a good match between property and buyer takes a bit of patience and the keen expertise of a real estate broker searching the market.
What should I bring to an open house?
The best thing to bring to an open house is an open mind. There are always things that can be changed cosmetically to give it your personal touch. But if you are set on a particular style and the home you are viewing is different, there may be other features to consider to make it a match for your search.
There may be a bidding war underway during the open house. Walk into an open house with a pre-approval in hand and use it as an advantage when ready to have your Realtor write an offer on a property. Knowing how much you have to spend keeps you focused while house hunting.
Also, come equipped with a pen and notebook or a notes file on your smartphone to jot down things you want to remember about the property. It will help when you are lining up the pros and cons of several homes under consideration to purchase.
Keep your wish list close at hand with an easy reference to your deal-breakers during an open house event. This will be the guide to keep you on track and eliminate homes that do not muster up to your must-haves or priority features. Home tours are generally upbeat opportunities to be wowed by a property that initially drew you in through a photograph. Or it’s a property your Realtor thought checked all the right boxes so take a look anyway.
Another tip when preparing to attend an open house: leave the children and dogs at home. Little ones, although cute and lovable, tend to be distractions, taking attention away from looking closely at the house. In some cases, children may also push you into an emotional decision rather than a strategic approach in purchasing a home.
Try to have all decision-makers in the home purchase attend the open house. While you may like it, a spouse may have a different opinion and this could cause friction going forward. And with a swift market where homes are moving fast, the delay tin seeing the house later with all decision-makers could cause you to miss out on the home of your dreams. So a word to the wise, be prepared to buy when attending an open house.
Should the owner be present at an open house?
While it may appear to be a good idea for the owner to be present to greet potential buyers, it’s usually not a good plan of action. One of the main reasons is that owners tend to overshare details about the house or personalize the property too much and can be a put-off to buyers.
In general, information from a homeowner like the charm of creaking pipes can hurt them at the negotiating table. The buyer may hear the pipes need to be replaced and ask for thousands off the selling price.
Selling a home is often an anxious time for the owner who has developed a deep bond with the property. Whether they invested sweat-equity to either restore or update the home, it can be challenging to part ways.
The homeowner may want to be assured the buyer will take great care of the property; this is an unrealistic expectation. The new owner may love the structure or other aspects of the home, but plans to change some of the features the current owner cherished about the character of the property.
Additionally, an owner attending an open house and chatting with prospective buyers could set a negative tone which could impact an offer or other concessions. In most cases, it’s better to let buyers roam free during an open house, able to touch things, available cabinets and form their own opinion. The buyer may feel uncomfortable if the owner is present.
How do I maximize my open house?
In planning an open house, perhaps advertising is one of the best ways to promote the upcoming event. The goal of an open house is to attract potential buyers, so maximizing exposure to the right audience is key. There are several tools to help circulate the listing to qualified potential buyers and other networking channels to increase traffic
The mountains of western North Carolina are home to beautiful properties with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. In particular, the Cashiers Highlands Plateau real estate opportunities are often sought after by those looking to relocate to the area. Adding quality photos of the home and the surrounding area helps attract interested buyers.
However, reaching some of these exclusive addresses requires good, clear directions or reliable GPS coordinates. The broker should drive the route before the event to make sure directions are clear, landmarks are visible or a yard sign points the way for those unfamiliar with the area.
Suppose a potential buyer has trouble finding a secluded or private property or locating the main gate for an open house. In that case, they may consider challenges their future guests may have, and it could be a deal-breaker. Work hard to ensure everyone arriving at the front door will rave about the open house.
Great attention should also be given to the hours of an open house. An hour or two-hour window for an open house sounds like a long time to some, but it may not be enough time to get potential buyers to the property.
Consider scheduling an open house with a four-hour window, typically beginning late morning, say 11 a.m. through early afternoon, around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. The four-hour time range is often more flexible with busy schedules, especially if planned for only one day. However, if several days will be designated for an open house event, then a shorter time is adequate.
How does a Realtor prepare for an open house?
Before starting an open house event, the Broker listing the property has a to-do list, much like the seller. One of the critical steps will be to query their Realtor database and invite potential buyers to save the date. The invite will likely generate advance inquiries from those who want a sneak peek before the open house. This can be a good thing, an early indicator of the interest level of the market.
Tips for Realtors to Prepare for an Open House:
Walk the property – check for items that could pose problems, like a blocked path or slippery floor. Then, advise the homeowner of a solution.
Check for smells – such as food, perfume and pets, not just bad smells in general. For example, a potential buyer at the open house may be allergic to any or all of those smells, so work to rid the space of a foul or problematic scent.
Unlock doors – make sure all doors are unlocked so open house attendees don’t have to ask to see a space or have no key on hand. This lag time can be frustrating, and a buyer may think there is something to hide.
Let the light in – If there is great natural light, open up the curtains and let it shine through. In other areas, be sure the lights are turned on so the space can be seen clearly.
On the day of the open house, the broker should encourage everyone to sign in to keep track of the traffic. The sign-in sheet can also capture contact information and be used later to reach out to prospective buyers if a price change or a similar property is listed.
And while focusing on tips of how to plan a successful open house, there are also things to avoid that are useful for sellers and buyers. A pair of comfortable shoes in top condition will serve the realtor well during the open house to cover the square footage as guests tour the property. And be sure to add a touch of hospitality with water bottles out for easy access and a decorative napkin display. The broker should also select a spot nearby to place business cards for everyone to pick up as they pass by. And remember to smile, set the atmosphere with a welcoming smile
Which day is best for an open house?
Utilizing popular online apps is the new trend to view property listings 24-hours a day, there are still buyers who prefer to see a house in person. Most are interested to see more than what is showcased in the gallery of photographs. On average, most open house events are planned for Saturdays since it is usually when most people run errands. A Saturday open house is an easy addition on the to-do-list.
However, Sundays run a close second on the top days for open houses. Although Sunday may be a laid back day for some, attending an open house after brunch is an ideal time range, usually between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
So next is figuring out how far in advance to promote an open house event. A good rule of thumb is to start spreading the word about a month or 30 days in advance but no later than a week out. The thought is that buyers looking to purchase six weeks ago have already settled on another location.
Promoting the event a month in advance allows potential buyers the time to set their calendar to attend the open house, and line up financing based on the price listed.
How do you style a kitchen for an open house?
Everyone, cooks and non-cooks alike, want to see the kitchen during an open house. This is the space where family meals are made with love and refreshments for entertaining are prepared to take center stage.
The kitchen should be staged with a bright but neutral color pallet. Simple touches could include white hand towels with either a pattern of lemons or limes. Consider adding a bowl of faux fruit to complete the image flanked by a pair of crystal champagne flutes.
In the kitchen, it’s best to avoid vibrant colors, bursts of color of particular floral designs, themes such as country hens or the smiling Italian chef. While it may be your style, the selection may date the property and be a turnoff for a buyer.
Should you go to an open house without a Realtor?
If you don’t already have a broker, attending an open house without one is fine. Are you already working with a broker? Arrange to meet them at the property and walk through together. It will be beneficial to have them on hand to field any questions that come up instead of waiting to reach them later. Or, if your broker can’t make the open house, take one of their cards to share if there are other listings you want to discuss, and your realtor will reach out.
Benefits of having your broker attend an open house:
1. They can see things that may help negotiate a better deal for you.
2. Outline the pros and cons of the property's price; if it’s worth it.
3. Keenly aware of the repairs to ask for during the inspection period.
However, some buyers may find it better to fly solo to an open house event. Have the Broker call head on your behalf if they cannot attend, so you have time to go at your own pace, look around, form an opinion and field questions without the pressure of persuasion before making a decision.
Why do a virtual open house?
There are several reasons to host a virtual open house event. One of the main reasons is that buyers tend to be more focused, trying not to miss anything as they view the screen of an open house presentation versus being in person and maybe distracted by someone else also in attendance. The use of technology enhances the ability for buyers to see what is on the market regardless of location.
Think of the virtual setting as a private tour. A virtual open house can be an excellent opportunity to showcase a property. Realtors utilize a variety of tools including professional photography and videography services to highlight a listing.
While a virtual open house can be engaging as if they are in person, there may be a few drawbacks. Covid-19 has forced brokers to adjust how open house events are conducted and have relied on technology to bridge the gap. The National Association of Realtors or NAR addressed a list of questions about hosting open house events during the global pandemic.
However, a big plus has been that virtual open houses can accommodate large groups at one time. So rather than trying to navigate other potential buyers or restrict the number of people who can view the property in person, a virtual event covers all those bases.
How do you make a virtual open house fun?
There are many ways to jazz up a virtual open house to make it fun and engaging for guests. An easy way to do this is to incorporate trivia questions to break the ice and set the session's tone.
A scavenger hunt is another way to draw your audience during the open house. Provide a list of clues for what they are looking for and let the games begin tol locate the items. Let’s see who pays close attention and finds everything during the game.
Giving key facts about the house such as; the year it was built, how many rooms are included, square footage or other details may be a game of recall. Again, it’s a fun but strategic way to keep the attention focused on the property.
Open the Doors to Success with Landmark Real Estate
Hosting an open house is a big undertaking, especially the time and expense of preparing for the big day. Planning for an open house is not something to take lightly, especially when you are serious about selling the house and must meet a specific timeline. Getting the right buyer in place at the right time is a bit of luck, but utilizing a few tricks of the trade can get the job done.
The Landmark team of real estate brokers are experts in buying and selling property throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina and the surrounding region. Contact a Landmark real estate broker to discuss marketing tools like open house events to attract potential buyers.