Written by Suzie Wilson
Most home sales do not come about as a result of an open house. In fact, only 7 percent of home sales result from holding one. So why should you put yourself to all that trouble? The answer is money. A successful open house can mean the difference between a house that sells quickly, above offer and one that languishes on the market for weeks. A home that shows well can generate a bidding war. Here are a few helpful suggestions on getting the most out of your home with a successful open house.
Put your best foot forward
If you’re going to be showing your house, you want it to look its best. Pay special attention to the exterior. You’ll never get another chance to make a first impression. Curb appeal is half the battle, as you want to make the buyers stop their car in their tracks. It doesn’t matter if your interior is top-notch if no one makes their way indoors to see it. So, clean up the outside and give your house a fresh coat of paint. Spruce up the lawn and power wash the driveway. Install new exterior bulbs, so your house looks great at night and put out some colorful annuals for a cheap and cheerful welcome in the daytime.
Create the illusion of perfection
Your buyers probably won’t have a lot of imagination. When they look at your home they may not be envisioning all the ways they can make it their own, so you’ll have to do that for them. Start by maximizing your space; eliminate clutter and personal items. You may need to rent a storage unit for the duration. Try to make your home attractive to as many people as possible. This is not the time to flaunt your personal style. Go traditional. Repaint interiors in muted neutral tones that coordinate with a wide variety of furnishings. If you decide to remodel in advance of open house day, the best places to get a return on your investment are the kitchen and the bathroom.
Even if you’re selling the home “as -is,” it doesn’t hurt to invest in new towels and accessories to make these rooms feel more modern. You may even want to hire a professional stager to arrange your furniture aesthetically. You want to make your house into a model home. Today’s buyers have access 24/7 to images of beautiful homes on television and the internet, and you are competing with those lofty expectations. Your home is a stage set, and you want your buyers to be able to see their lives unfolding happily within these walls.
The next step is photography. Work with your realtor to arrange someone who can show your home in all its glory. Most buyers will research your home online before they see it in person, so make sure everything they see makes them want to see more. You can arrange to have 360-degree photo tours online, so that the buyer can experience “walking through” your home from the comfort of theirs.
Set up a strong web presence, noting all the pertinent information about your home. Find out the ages of all systems and appliances. Make note of any recent updates or remodeling you have done. Remember, you’re selling the fantasy of living in your house, so play up all of its advantages. Is it in a great school district? Close to shops and public transportation? Whatever its strengths, you’ll want to let the buyers know about them.
Get the word out
If you do not advertise, the world doesn’t beat a path to your door. Make sure your realtor is posting your pending open house to multiple social media channels and the MLS. Tell all your neighbors and friends. You might even want to send out invitations. The neighbor may not want to buy your house, but he might want to tell his son about it. Put out signs leading from major intersections, directing traffic to the open house. The more highly visible signs pointing the way, the better. One lonely balloon on a sign on a street corner isn’t going to cut it. You want the buyers following the trail like eager beavers on a scavenger hunt. Their reward is your fantastic house.
On the day of the open house, you’ll want to stay at a discreet distance, but be within easy reach of communication: keep your phone turned on. A prospective buyer may need to know the depth of your well, or the height of your crawlspace. Make sure the environment is as welcoming as possible, with plenty of light and warmth. Take any pets to the sitter for the day, and make sure the house smells amazing. Fragrances and smells have a powerful impact on our emotions; your house will seem more inviting if it smells of baked goods, for example. These can do double duty; bake some cookies and offer snacks during your open house. Put out iced tea and lemonade. Happy people are more likely to make offers, hungry or thirsty people are likely to rush through and leave.