Lets take a minute and talk about some Open House etiquette for those homeowners and buyers !! I am an agent who believes it is better to hold an Open House and have only 1 or 2 people attend than not have one at all and possibly miss out on a prospective buyer for my client. Every agent has their own opinion and way of running their business if you want your agent to have open houses on your behalf you must discuss it prior to listing your home with them. If they don't agree with your opinion simply move onto an agent does !!
Lets take a minute and discuss where a homeowner should be during an open house and their is only 1 correct answer and that is OUT ! You should trust your agent to protect your home and its belongings during an open house, if you don't have that comfort level I would suggest re-thinking why your trusting them to sell it at all. Buyers will always feel like they are intruding on a homeowner when they are present during an open house, it's human nature to feel a bit awkward judging someone's home with them sitting in the living room ! I won't try and say that some buyers aren't a bit nosey during open houses they will open up a fridge or medicine cabinet, but you never know what parts of a home are going to be important-if your agent sees them going a bit extreme with being nosey we of course put an end to it.
I am always amazed by the difference between what one homeowner will do to prep their home verses what others will do. I want to take a minute and set up some general guidelines of what you should do to help your home present well !
- Vacuum & Light Dusting - Don't go crazy with the cleaning products and waxes many times the smell of those cleaning products can be overwhelming and the sticky waxes can make surfaces feel dirty to the touch. Swiffer Dust Pads are really the best thing to use for a bit of light dusting they don't leave any marks or and it's quick and easy !
- Empty The Appliances - Sounds silly but the most common thing a buyer will look inside of is washing machines & dishwashers, run them thru a cleaning cycle before your open house it doesn't need to be sparkling as if its a brand new appliance just clean.
- Laundry - Always the enemy and impossible for it to ever all be clean I know this because I think in my entire life all my laundry was clean once in 30 years. Just make sure none of it is sitting in the washer or dryer, put the hampers in the closet or invest in some that have covers so they aren't so visible, simple fix but you'd be amazed how awkward a conversation can feel in a laundry room surrounded by strangers dirty clothes !
- Bedrooms - I sometimes feel like a mean mom when I arrive at an open house, your bedroom does not need to look like its not being lived in BUT you do still need to make your bed and clear the debris off of the floor !
- Garbage - Put it out in cans that have covers !! There is nothing like a funky smelling garbage pail to turn a buyer away from a otherwise gorgeous kitchen, or showing off your perfectly kept backyard while trying to combat the flies that are circling your garbage.
Just as important as what the house looks like is what your buyers will receive when they come to your open house. Ask your agent to show you what they will be setting up in your home to give to prospective buyers, make sure all the information about your home is on the hi-lite sheet. I also give out town information for those buyers who are not from the area. You want to make sure your home is memorable for every buyer that comes to view it ! I also have Virtual Tour DVD's this way the buyers can share it with their friends and family as if they were walking them thru it in person !
Many buyers feel a bit overwhelmed by the agent who is hosting the open house, this is why I recommend that you work with a Buyer Broker !! When you have your own Broker you still can attend open houses but your agent should give you a large stack of their cards to hand out to the agents of the homes you see. You will no longer need to sign in other than your name, your broker becomes your middle man to deal with the listing agent! Now, as a courtesy to both your agent and the listing agent if your working with you own Broker don't wait to tell us that until your leaving ! We won't treat you any differently but during busy open houses we need to know so we can focus on those people who have no one working to keep them fully informed.
Buyers also need to take somethings into consideration when your attending an open house, I don't care if you come by yourself or bring your entire family the more the better ! But, when you bring your children please keep an eye on them ! This is mainly for their safety, but also for the homeowners belongings that may be interesting to a child to want to pick up and play with. My job as the listing agent is to show you the house, not watch your children while you mosey around the house. If you are bringing your child I always recommend having yourself and another adult with you so that someone is able to keep a close eye on them. I am a mom a very rambunctious 4 year old and I understand that they will touch things, and open and close cabinet doors because they are curious but you still must keep an eye on them.
You will also want to come up with a plan of how to remember the open houses you have attended, I usually recommend that my buyers shoot me a text or an email so I can track them for them. If your opting to not use a buyers broker than you should have a folder or some place to organize all of the hi lights sheets and information your going to receive. Remember we are limited on the amount of space we are given on websites so sometimes there will be important information on those Hi Light sheets that aren't listed on the Multiple Listing Service. It will also give you a place to keep the information you find out about the towns your looking, such as school information this way you can find it all in 1 place !