Realty Collective Open House Guide For Sellers

NOTE: While the information below contains many of the best practices we’ve learned over the years, it’s important to take into account the role COVID still plays on our current real estate market.  It’s always best to connect for the most current info!

Rule 1: Timing

When it comes to the open house, how do you know whether your agent is doing it right—from picking the optimal time slot, to advertising in the right places, to showing up prepared? Make sure you ask these qualifying questions of your agent when you interview them. You want someone that has a plan to execute.

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! The Sunday open house tradition was established back when the Sunday real estate section of the newspaper drove most of the traffic. 

With virtually all open houses advertised online these days there is some increase in Saturday open houses. However many brokers take Saturdays off so, there’s a resistance to changing it. 

Your goal is to be where the buyers are so stick to Sundays. 

For the same reason, pick a popular time slot: 

Buyers are out in droves from 11-4. In particular, 11-1 to 2-4 may be the most strategic choices, while the 12-2  the most strategic choices, while the 12-2 slot and to a lesser extent 1-3 may lose buyers to the lunch hour. The time slot you pick should overlap as much as possible with nearby properties at the same price point, to encourage buyers to include your property  in their itinerary. Be aware of all open houses—not just in a 10 block radius but north and south too, because buyers will either hit them all, or split up and reconvene at the end.  

Ideally, your place should be shown at the time it gets the most natural light: For instance, east-facing apartments show best in the morning or earlier in the day. 

Exceptions to the Sunday open house rule: If it falls too near a national or religious holiday, or on a long weekend, you may want to consider skipping a weekend or trying a weeknight open house. 

After-work open houses—Tuesday or Wednesday from 6-7 o’clock–are more common in the summer when many people go away for the weekend. They may also be a useful year-round Sunday supplement for apartments located in midtown or downtown, convenient to offices. 

Duration We recommend that an open house should last around one to two hours, tops. 

One of the biggest mistakes is hosting a four-hour open house. It takes away from the exclusivity and allows people to make casual visits once they look at everything else. That is, If they don’t go to brunch in between. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Timing 
  • Sunday are the preferred for open houses with exception of major holidays
  • Overlap your open house with other  scheduled open houses  
  • Be specific with the time of day – try to ensure that there is a ton of natural light available to show the space
  • After work open houses Mid week and after 6pm for holiday weekends
  • Duration 
  • Recommended time for an open house is about 1 hours to 2 hours max 1.5 hours is the sweet spot

Encourage other brokers to send their clients even if they can’t make it!

Part 2:

Tip #3-Out of the house! You, your dog and your dust bunnies!

Clean and Declutter your space and stay away during showings!

Leading up to your first open house  we hope that you have started taking steps to clean, declutter and stage your apartment.  Do not wait until the last minute to do a deep clean, purge or  hide your personal things. So you should be focusing on your  routine maintenance and making sure you place looks the photos on the internet!

Your place needs to be thoroughly cleaned before each open house; don’t forget the inside of the refrigerator and deep scrub the bathroom. Change the cat’s litter box and check for burned out light bulbs and schmutz on the windows.

You should also temporarily stash any personal effects that survived the staging purge. For each owner we work with, we recommend they have a few boxes to store their stuff.  One for toiletries, one for magazines, etc. so you have a place to stash.  Before each showing we ask they box everything up and put the boxes in the closet, under the bed or anywhere that the items can be out of sight. It’s a pain to do, but the best ‘shows’ are when the apartment literally looks like nobody lives there so that potential buyers can project their own lives onto the space. The goal is for your place to look like an open canvas, ready for the buyer’s stamp. 

More tips: 

Remove rugs and bathmats with curled-up edges, a visitor could trip, fall and possibly blame you. 

Tactical ambiance : Beyond basic cleanliness, your apartment should appeal to both the senses and imagination: 

  • Check for strong unpleasant odors and address them–but don’t over correct. Lighting scented candles or burning incense immediately raises a red flag to a buyer. Baking cookies or even warming cinnamon sticks in the oven is a better way to handle this. 
  • Blast the a/c in the summer and have bottles of ice cold water on hand for visitors. In the winter, make sure the heat is turned up high. 
  • Make sure any background music is playing softly and has multi-generational appeal. He also suggests setting an inviting dinner table so that visitors can imagine themselves dining there. 
  • Turn on all the lights and open the window coverings, unless you face a brick wall. 

Go away, and take the gerbils, dogs and dust bunnies with you! 

If there was a universal lament among brokers, it was about uninvited guests:  You, and your pets. 

Nor should you stake out the lobby and stalk buyers on their way out 

The biggest mistake sellers make is loitering in the lobby and trying to chat up people who visited the apartment. Buyers go to an open house to have a hassle-free experience, and getting accosted in the lobby by a gregarious (read: nosey) seller does not bode well. 

We say your pets—all of them, except possibly fish—must go too. Your beloved animal companion does not want you to sell their home, doesn’t care about your real estate goals and may even make a point of their displeasure and lack of decorum by peeing on a buyer’s leg. 

No one wants to buy where birds fly and lizards slither. Moreover, a large snake is literally the kiss of death. No one wants to think about how and what they eat and people can’t shake the creepy feeling that its offspring or relatives are hiding somewhere in the apartment. 

Hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs?  Your kids think they’re so cute. Your buyers think rodents. If you can’t find a temporary foster home, at least make sure the cages don’t smell. 

Curious about more selling tips? Join us for our next FREE Selling In Brooklyn workshop!

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