I was asked to sit down in an Q & A recently with fellow brokers, buyers, and sellers to discuss many topics. One of the topics that came up for discussion was the pros and cons of OPEN HOUSES. Here are some important points to consider whether your a buyer or seller.
Moderator: What are the pros and cons of open houses for sellers or buyers?
Hong McDonald: Well, it depend on who is your target audience. Let's first talk about sellers. In Park City, there are two types of open houses in general. One is the Broker Open House, organized by the Park City Board of Realtors. It occurs every Wednesday between 10:00 - 3:00 depending on the neighborhood. This is a great opportunity for list agents to host the open houses so other brokers and sales agent can preview it for their clients. I always have food, because everyone is hungry and like to eat, resulting in a very high turn out to my open houses. Some of my favorite menu includes "Champagne, Mimosas, and Quiche", "Beer, Brats, and Burgers", "my famous Zuppa Toscano". When not serving food, I offer cash drawings. It benefits the sellers as many other agents from all brokerages come to preview the house and then call their buyers to schedule a showing.
The second type of open houses are Public open houses, often done on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in the summer months, but almost every day during the winter months as visitors are in town every day skiing or snowboarding! This is great exposure for the seller's home as well, because every time there's a walk in, or a buyer who comes in to look at the home, it's someone who might fall in love with the home and put an offer.
As a benefit to the buyers, it's a great opportunity to see the home without having to schedule a "showing time". If you're working with a licensed agent, I would recommend that you let the person doing the open house know that you're working with another agent so they know you're already represented.
Moderator: What are some risks, recommendations, concerns you would offer to buyers or sellers in regard to open houses?
Hong McDonald: When you're a seller, as with any listing, and especially with open houses, here are eight (8) things for you to do before you list your home.
1. Put in a safe all financial, confidential, banking information, bills, personal paperwork in a locked filing cabinet. Do not leave any information including mail in the open.
2. Put away all valuable jewelry, watches and prescription medicine. Anything including artwork, valuables which someone can put in their purse or pocket should be in a safe in hidden drawer.
3. Make sure all doors and windows are locked at end of the day, and end of any showings. You always want to check that every day. If your home is vacant, or have only occasional use, make sure you remind your broker/agent to make sure doors and windows are locked. I have seen cases where people who poses as buyers come through, unlock a back door or window, and then come in later in the day/week when no one is around.
4. When possible install a camera or motion sensor if you're listing a property that has valuable art, furniture, accessories, or is in a remote location.
5. Keep your front yard looking great. The first 30 seconds of a buyer's impression of the house is most important. So spruce up the yard, paint exterior, put flowers on the porch, turn on all lights for showings and open houses, so when a buyer drives up the driveway and walks in the front door, it makes a great first impression!
6. Buy a bluetooth speaker or sound system and have some soft rock or soothing music for open houses or showings. All humans react to visual impressions, but a positive auditory response will help trigger positive results.
7. Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies. One of my best secret for first impression is to baking cookies (I make my own!). If in a pinch, put a tablespoon of vanilla extract in the oven on 150 degrees during the open house and serve store bought cookies. My experience shows that people will stay longer to talk, take a longer look around the house, and be more open the possibility of "that" house when they have a cookie in hand, or in mouth.
8. Hire a licensed real estate agent who will do the work. It's not just listing it on the MLS. It's about doing open houses consistently, helping you stage the house for a great first 30 second impression, and having a positive relationship with other brokers/agents. Find someone who works real estate full time, hows committed to your success, and who has experience to guide you along this process.
Moderator: What's one mistake sellers make when interviewing and hiring a list agent?
Hong McDonald: Sellers often think they can save (or sometimes make more money) when they hire a discount agent. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for". To get top dollar for your home, hire a agent who is committed to putting in a lot of hours of hard work because that's what it will take. Doing open houses, calling fellow realtors to talk to them about the house, putting in time to find the best marketing in place for your homes (and it's not always print ad), and networking all takes time.
Moderator: One last question, I heard you know a little bit about feng shui and staging? Can you help sellers?
Hong McDonald: I know enough to be dangerous (laugh). There are some feng shui concepts that I bring into the homes to help it sell for higher price, and faster. Staging also helps, so I can consult on that too.
Moderator: Thank you Hong McDonald for your time and expertise. Hong McDonald can provide sellers free comprehensive analysis of their property, or recommendation on how to list and sell their homes, and/or buyers with a current market report. For all your real estate needs in Park City or Deer Valley Utah, call Hong McDonald at 435.901.0533 or firstname.lastname@example.org