Contrary to what the real estate agents would have you believe, you can hold an open house without an agent. And it can be a successful one, even leading to a sale. All it takes is proper planning and a clean house!
An open house is designed to attract as many people as possible your property, giving them a chance to leisurely stroll through without the pressure of a real estate agent. An open house won’t likely end in a same-day sale, but it will generate several good prospects. Open houses are real estate staples for a good reason…they do sell houses.
Planning begins with a good date. And, unfortunately, a good date means you have to give up a weekend. Ideally, consider having a Friday afternoon or evening open house back-to-back with a Saturday morning or afternoon. Avoid holiday weekends and avoid weekends when a lot of local activities are going on. If your town’s big in baseball, for example, plan it around the home team’s schedule. Same thing goes for folklore festivals, music festivals and other weekends that will cause prospective buyers to have other plans.
Start advertising as soon as you choose a date. You will need a budget for this, but it doesn’t have to be a big one. The classifieds of the local paper is a must for your open house. Begin running an “Open House” ad in the “Houses for Sale” section at least one week before the event. Consider going two weekends before. There’s no real benefit to advertising in Monday or Tuesday’s paper, but many newspapers include them free when you purchase ads on the weekend. Take out ads in smaller community newspapers in the towns that surround your house. Avoid big city papers unless your house is located in one. Even then, find out if the newspaper can offer you a “zone” rate, meaning that your ad would be included only in certain zip codes. Otherwise, big city newspapers are expensive and your small ad can easily be lost in page after page of listings.
Next, develop a simple, one-page flier. These don’t need to be fancy. A white, one-page 8 ½ X 11 works nicely. If you can afford color, great. If not, make black and white copies. Include a photo of the house and have a paper pocket stapled on the posters that contain small cards with the basics: the date, location and a phone number. This way, readers who are interested can easily keep the information and mark the date on their calendars later. Where to put these posters? Everywhere. See if bulletin boards are available at work, at local schools or community centers. Even some churches have bulletin boards. Also look around your community and think where renters might hang out. Ask if you can hang one at a local diner, a laundromat and the bus station.
Tell everyone. Send out an e-mail to everyone you know announcing your open house and ask them to share the information with any one looking to buy. Take advantage of free advertising like Craig’s List.
As the day approaches, make sure your house is picture-perfect. You may want to take the day before off to make sure the house is spotless and any last minute details are finished. Cleanliness is a given, but this is also the time to take care of any odd jobs that might make your house look more valuable. Touch up the paint on the porch and plant some flowers if needed. Make just some small improvements to the indoor décor. Perhaps your bathroom could use a new shower curtain and a guest towel. Run out to the grocery and grab some flowers to place in vases in the dining room, the living room and maybe the master bath.
Let your neighbors know about your open house. This is a common courtesy since your open house will hopefully generate some traffic. It also will make everyone aware of exactly who is having an open house should any prospective buyers ask for directions.
Finally, in the hour before your open house begins, light a few strategically placed candles, but make sure the scent isn’t too strong. Make some coffee and iced tea and prepare a few light refreshments. Some cookies or crackers and dip work nicely. Send the children over to a neighbor’s to play. Take a deep breath and get ready to sell your home!