The Real Estate License Professor

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The Art of a Public Open House
Weekend open houses have become a real estate must. If you prepare for yours correctly, it can be an excellent selling tool. You can either have your own open house or you can have one hosted by your real estate agent.
If you are working with a licensed agent first you should meet with he or she and discuss all the details of what's involved with an open house. At this time you should discuss with your agent all potential advertising venues, and share any special groups you belong to that might be interested in your open house. A day before the open house go through the entire house with your agent and listen closely to his or her directions on preparing the home for showings. You should have your agent prepare a professional-looking visitor sign-in sheet for collecting the names and phone numbers of guests. You agent can also leave his / her business cards and the houses info sheet close to this sign in sheet.
On the day of the open house you should either keep a low profile or leave and let your agent work for you. It isn’t always fun to hear other people’s opinions about your furniture or decorating choices. Go and relax by meeting a friend for coffee or go for a walk. If you do leave, make sure your agent knows precisely what you want and need regarding price so that if a hot prospect shows up, negotiations will stay on the right track.
An open house can be a bit more challenging if you are working with a licensed agent. The first step you should take is to place an ad in your local newspaper and on craigslist.com to announce the open house. Include very specific directions to your home. As well you should buy signs to put up in areas near your home to announce the open house. Since you won’t have the benefit of a realtor working for you, you should prepare a typewritten or laser-printed sign-in sheet so you can collect names and phone numbers of visitors and print brochures or fliers with lots of specific information about the house and how visitors can reach you. You should spend time cleaning up the house in anticipation of the visitors.
The morning of the open house you should do a complete walk-through of your home to make sure everything is in its place. If you haven’t cleaned by now (which  you should have done before.) do your best to make the property immaculate. You should also play soft background music. Since strangers will be walking all around your house you should lock up all of your valuables in a safe place. If you have pets try to get them out of the house during the showing.
When guests start showing, greet them warmly and give them your brochure or flier. Let visitors tour the property alone unless they ask you to give them a tour. This allows them to discuss your property without hurting your feelings. As visitors leave, ask open-ended questions like "What did you think of the property?" and "What did you like best about the house?" At all times you should be prepared to answer very specific questions about the house, such as "How old is the roof?" "How long has it been since the furnace was inspected?" and "What are the neighbors like?" In case you get some interest right away be prepared to negotiate.
Posted by Tom Chambers on January 10, 2007
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