We don't make it a practice to do open houses much anymore. There was a time when opens were like Hollywood movie premiers - so much traffic you could hardly keep track of who was coming and going. Sadly, those days dissipated over the past several years.
Open houses got relegated to the Web-based world. For several seasons I wandered through my properties listless and dejected, during open houses that seemed to never end. I finally gave up, thinking the open house was past its useful life.
Or so I thought.
This Sunday I was so busy during my open that I failed to catch the end time and trailed nearly 40 minutes behind in picking up signs and closing shop. Folks lingered, asked questions, looked carefully and had genuine interest in pursuing the property. In fact, the first few might have had even greater interest if I hadn’t scared them a bit with my excitement!
It was a thrill to feel so useful, productive and positive. It was a joy to give a client update that didn't start with a prolonged "Welll...." and then a sorry report about the economy. This was a great open house!
Some of our steps to prepare for this open included:
- waiting a full 75 days before opening. We did mailers and a brokers' open, signs and a holiday announcement, but we waited to get some showings, feedback and even a price change before opening up. This built interest and made the open seem more exclusive and exciting.
- picking a weekend with little to watch on TV. Open houses don't fare well against American Idol premiers or sporting events. This timing matters.
- putting signs up closer to open time, rather than well in advance. Folks have so much to look at, listen to, etc., that prolonged exposure seems to dilute effect. People are more impulsive, whether we like it or not, and want immediate satisfaction. See the sign; go to the open right now.
- spending time with each visitor lingering near the door. I think people were attracted by the sight of others coming and going. It's very human, isn't it? Wanting what others want?
I think, for sure, the nature of the open has changed and that's o.k. As long as we adapt, reclaim and own those changes we're sure to see a healthy and successful return of the tried and true Open House.
Carmen V. Rodriguez - Broker Associate
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage