The Open House Showing: Quaint Relic of the Past or More Important Than Ever?
By Andrew Mitchell
Now that you have made the decision to sell your home, there are a hundred other important questions to ponder. How much should you ask for, given current market conditions in your area? Should you refurbish parts of the house (or renovate certain sections entirely)? What kind of a timetable do you want to establish for the sale? How should you stage the property? One by one, you will sort through each of these matters in consultation with your real estate broker. And once you have those ducks in a row, your marketing strategy will come increasingly to the fore.
A good broker will have all sorts of terrific ways of drumming up interest in your property, but you will doubtless bring notions of your own to the table. Many of us remember attending or hosting open house showings as children – but are these still necessary in the age of the internet and the ubiquitous cell phone? This article explores some of the most important factors to consider before deciding for or against the open house.
1. Create a sense of urgency
If you are lucky enough to attract a large crowd of viable buyers to your open house, the results could be very much to your liking. In that situation, any visitor who falls in love with the property will know the she or he has competition – and that sense of competition can play a key role in pushing the eventual sale price beyond even your rosiest expectations.
2. Less hassle for the homeowner (staging)
Your broker will guide you through the process of maximizing your home’s attractiveness and “curb appeal”, but maintaining that idealized look on a consistent basis might prove difficult, if you have uncooperative (and messy!) children and dogs running about the place. Opting to show the property via weekend open houses, rather than on an appointment basis throughout the week, might be the most practical means of ensuring that visitors always see the house at its best.
3. The element of surprise
Although not a very frequently observed phenomenon, open houses do occasionally transform casual passersby into serious buyers. The hope here is that your inviting property will provide the final enticement necessary to convince your visitor to make the leap and enter the real estate market. Again, this happens quite rarely, but the act of walking through your rooms and halls could certainly do more to create an active home seeker than even the most attractive internet listing.
Your broker can certainly make good use of the data that comes to light as a result of an open house. You may discover that your price is too high, or that aspects of the home (i.e. fixtures, tiles, floors, etc.) will require a little more investment on your part. On the other hand, the broker may discover that many prospective buyers are willing to meet your initial price – creating a very profitable negotiating position.
1. Unwelcome visitors
When you open your house to all comers, you cannot control who shows up. Many of the visitors might not be serious about buying a home at all. Some of them could be rival home sellers, checking out the competition in the neighbourhood. Worse, people on the block might just wander in to take a pointless peek at the interior of your house. Others could actually be thoughtless enough to damage your property or track mud through your freshly staged home. These latter problems are unlikely to occur, but one thing is certain: an open house limits your broker’s ability to ensure that only viable buyers cross your threshold.
2. Possible inconvenience to the homeowners
Whether your broker shows the house via appointment or an open house, she or he will strive to give the visitor a sense of the property’s future possibilities – rather than its current role. This means that you and your family will want to be elsewhere while the showings are going on. That might be easier to arrange for short periods than for the extended stretch of time generally allocated to an open house. On the other hand, it would provide you with lots of great excuses for taking family trips or visiting the in-laws.
3. Sending the wrong message
It would be terrible to stage an open house and receive no interest at all – but there’s an even worse scenario. Suppose you attract only one visitor, and that visitor is a serious buyer – a buyer who now believes that there is no competition for your home. If that buyer decides to make an offer, your broker will be hard-pressed to negotiate from a position of strength.
Ultimately, the question of whether to stage an open house is probably best answered on a case-by-case basis. There may be very compelling reasons to do so in your area. Or the strategy might be deemed ineffective or even detrimental to your home selling process. Either way, you will want to explore your options with the help of an experienced real estate broker. To discover more about the tools and the skills I can put at your disposal, I invite you to set up a no-obligation consultation by calling me directly at 514-425-6262.
Andrew Mitchell is a Chartered Real Estate Broker with Vistacor Realty Group, an independent real estate agency serving home sellers and buyers for over 24 years. Thinking about buying or selling real estate? Follow him on Twitter @Montreal_Homes, call him directly at 514-425-6262 or visit his website at www.andrewmitchell.ca.