11 Open House Blunders

March 1, 2006

1. Poor visibility. Have enough signs to help people find a tricky street and capture drive-by traffic from all major streets surrounding the home.

2. Insufficient directions. In your advertisements and flyers, give specific directions that take prospective buyers past the nearby golf course or other desirable neighborhood landmarks.

3. No giveaway. Provide an item of value, such as an article about a new coffee shop opening in the area or a new park being built. Or offer a promotional item, such as a pen, CD-ROM of other listings, or water bottle with your contact information printed on it.

4. House tours. Most people don’t need you to escort them around. Many practitioners advocate staying near the front door so that you can greet people when they arrive and debrief them as they leave. If you prefer to walk buyers around the house, safety experts recommend keeping an exit behind you to ensure you can make a quick getaway if you sense an unsafe situation.

5. No safety plan. Call a friend, the office, or a loved one to let someone know you’ve arrived at the house, and check in with the person during and after the open house.

6. An empty briefcase. Make good use of downtime by bringing office work, cards, or letters to tackle when no one’s viewing the home. Be sure to put the work down when any prospective buyers arrive.

7. No early door knocking. One of the best ways to ensure success at an open house is to show up an hour early and knock on a few neighbors’ doors. Invite them to view the home; even if they don’t know any interested buyers, you may get other listings by showing your diligence.

8. An unready house. Make sure the lights are on, classical music is playing quietly in the background, dishes are put away, the yard is mowed, drapes are open, and floors are swept.

9. Lack of knowledge about the neighborhood. You should know about the schools, stores in the area, and distance to major destinations. If you know that it takes 12 minutes to get to the heart of the city from the house, you establish credibility.

10. A halfhearted approach. Even if you have a contract, a deal can be killed by buyer’s remorse, loan problems, timing, or a dozen other factors. Don’t become so complacent that you lose the opportunity to line up other potential buyers.

11. No followup. If you don’t collect the names and contact information of the people who attend the open house, you’re losing out on a valuable opportunity to foster relationships and promote your services.

Sources: Thom Brockett, Long & Foster Real Estate, Gaithersburg, Md.; Howard Chung, John L. Scott Real Estate, Bellevue, Wash.; Jon Hunter, John L. Scott Real Estate, Seattle; Terry Watson, ABR®, CRS®, Watson World Inc., Chicago