Open houses don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be held on Saturday afternoons. Break the mold and rock your open house!
1. Try a unique day and time for your open house. Evening open houses are a great idea for drawing in working buyers who run from soccer games to birthday parties on the weekends. It’s also great for busy couples, as a fun stop before going home. Hors d’oeuvres and great lighting, jazz music, all set the stage for a different type of open house.
2. Team up with other homes for sale in the neighborhood for a neighborhood open house event. One stop shopping increases the traffic through your home. Realtors are often happy to cooperate with fellow Realtors to promote an event like that. You can also schedule your neighborhood open house to coincide with other neighborhood events like garage sales, car washes, or dog washes. It’s a great way to bring in more people while showing off the personality of your neighborhood.
3. Offer a drawing for a gift certificate, if allowed in your area, for your open house attendees. Offer a gift certificate for the local warehouse store, a lawn and garden store, or a local restaurant. The prize does not have to be large, just something that keeps your home in the forefront of buyer’s minds. Be sure to advertise any special buyer’s incentives at the open house, too. Check with your Realtor, or local authorities to be sure that the drawing is allowed in your town.
4. Arrange to have a mortgage professional on-site for the open house, with your Realtor. A mortgage professional can answer any questions buyers may have about the new first time home buyers tax credit, about qualifying for a mortgage, and what the payments might look like. Many potential buyers tour open houses before they have calculated what they can pay for a home. A knowledgeable, and low-pressure, mortgage rep can have a potential buyer saying “yes, we can do this!”
5. Set up a digital photo frame in your home. Fill it with photos of your home decorated for various holidays, featuring landscape shots in different seasons, decorated for a party, gorgeous views, and anything that a buyer may not see during a quick open house visit. Most digital frames allow multiple albums, so that your family photos stay private while buyers are treated to beautiful scenes of your home coming alive on the screen. The newest models also include an option for music. Consider a soft jazz soundtrack for the open house.
6. Offer a small postcard version of your home flyer. At the beginning of your listing period have photo postcards printed up with a beautiful photo of your home on the front. Consider a great shot of your kitchen, your garden, or other stand-out feature, set into a box within the front image. On the back, include the address, a bulletted list of features, and your Realtor’s name, and the web address for your listing. You won’t want to list a price on the card, so that it remains current if you choose to make a price change. Photo postcards are very inexpensive and easily designed on the internet. When you offer a glossy postcard of your home, you can bet that your home will be gracing many refrigerator doors of potential buyers.
7. Don’t settle for grocery store cookies in a plastic container. Bake fresh cookies for your open house, and provide fun and seasonal napkins for your buyers, along with a stack of snack sized plastic bags so they can take them to go. If you don’t bake, either pick up slice and bake cookies at the store. The slice and bake cookies still give that fresh baked, and homemade vibe that spells “home.” Create a cute or elegant homemade small sign encouraging buyers to “enjoy a cookie (or two or three) while you tour our home.”
8. Write a letter to potential buyers telling them what you love about your home. Leave the letters near the cookies during open houses and showings. Start by telling potential buyers what drew you to the home initially, and what you’ve grown to love about it. If you have hundreds of spring bulbs planted, and the home is for sale in October, be sure to let them know. If you have the most wonderful neighbors, and look forward to the yearly neighborhood garage sale or other events, let the buyers know. If you can hear the ocean at night when the rest of the world is quiet, buyers would never know unless they toured your home at midnight. I recently bought a home and it was a happy surprise to find that I have a beautiful water and bridge view all winter long. Buying the house in the summer when all the trees were full, I never would have guessed. Make it easy for buyers to fall in love with your home. If you use a digital photo frame, this is a great way to reinforce this information!
9. Don’t assume that open houses don’t work. When my house was for sale, two of the offers I received were from open house attendees. While most buyers find their eventual home by first seeing it on the internet, an open house is a way for them to linger in the home on their own time, without a schedule to see other homes within a short period. Open houses are also great for buyers who are just deciding to buy a home, but aren’t ready to contact an agent officially yet. An open house offers a potential buyer the chance to see a home with no feeling of obligation.
10. Offer up your home to friends and associates for seasonal open houses, home sales parties, parent meetings. Any way that you can bring more people into your home while it’s for sale, is going to increase your odds of connecting to the right buyer. At the events, keep a stack of your home postcards on a few tables, and keep that digital frame running with glamour shots of your home.