A crucial part of selling any condo, co-op, or townhouse in New York is the open house. When done right, it can solicit multiple offers and more than cover the costs of it. When done poorly, it can end up being a waste of both time and money. If you’re going to make it work, you have to have it well planned out and organized.
With the right combination of timing, marketing, and advertising, you can see your investment pay off big.
What is an Open House?What is an Open House?
If unfamiliar with the concept, an open house is a block of time when a property is available for viewing. It typically runs for 1-3 hours and is usually held on a weekend afternoon. People can walk in and view the property for themselves to get an idea of what living there would be. The listing agent will be present at all times to show people around and answer any questions.
However, many buildings in New York, especially co-ops, do not allow open houses or have restrictions. Some require that two agents be present at all times; others only allow open houses by appointment, and others still have no limits whatsoever.
How to prepare for an Open HouseHow to prepare for an Open House
Every part of the plan for the open house should be well thought out before you advertise the date. Go through each of these areas, and you’ll be able to plan and execute the best open house possible.
What is the best time for an Open House?What is the best time for an Open House?
The first thing to decide is what the best time and date is for hosting the open house. Sunday is the most ordinary day, a legacy of the days when the real estate section of the Sunday newspaper drove most of the traffic. You’ll want it to be a time when you can attract the most potential buyers, so stick with Sunday from 11-5 pm, the most popular time slot.
The only exception to the Sunday rule is if it falls near a national or religious holiday. If that happens, you should maybe consider either skipping the weekend or try a weeknight open house. After work hours on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6-7 pm can work but know that weekday open houses can be, hit and miss.
Marketing and advertisingMarketing and advertising
When it comes to advertising, start with a simple sign. Have it not just on the door of your unit but also on the doors leading into the building. If the building has a doorman, make sure you keep him in the loop to greet and direct any visitors adequately.
Most importantly, if you don’t have any online advertising, you effectively don’t have any advertising. A right listing agent can help you with this and put the word out to other brokers who could be willing to send potential buyers in exchange for a co-brokering commission.
If the building requires appointments to make sure, this is highlighted in the listing. A potential buyer may get in, but a door attendant can be challenging to work within this situation.
Consider Home StagingConsider Home Staging
Last but not least, get the apartment set up for the open house. It would help to hire a home staging expert for this. They can recommend what changes are needed that will make the home appeal to the most buyers.
All clutter and personal items should be stored away so the place looks as neutral as possible. The whole point of an open house is to help visitors envision what living there would be. It’s hard to do that if you’ve got family photos and other personal items lying around. Every room should be, deep cleaned and any defects, such as a crack in the wall, should be amended or covered up as a last resort.
If you can do just this much, you should be able to make the most of your open house. With luck, you’ll get multiple offers that could even lead to a bidding war, more than justifying the expanse of the staging and marketing.
How to Host a Successful Open House?How to Host a Successful Open House?
If you’ve decided to pull the trigger and, you or your broker will more than likely be hosting open houses regularly until you have a contract signed. Moreover, you’ll want to make sure your home is in top-notch shape and looking its best, so you stand out above the competition.
You may not have given your place’s appearance much thought, but primping goes a long way when it comes to your living space. While the list below might seem like universal work right now, I can assure you it’s necessary. In other words, keep your eyes on the prize –– an asking price offer –– as you check each item off the list and move one step closer to a sale.
Know your buyerKnow your buyer
Your broker can help you determine who your market is. If your apartment appears dated and isn’t appealing to the right age group, you’ll need to make a few changes to secure a sale. Knowing your buyer could mean losing grandma’s rocking chair or a few other tchotchkes temporarily, which brings me to number two.
Clean the house, and I don’t mean vacuum. That comes later. Your living space shouldn’t be cluttered or crowded, and if it is, pare down to the essentials and store the rest.
Rent a storage unitRent a storage unit
If you don’t have basement storage or space for a family member, you’ll need to rent an outside storage unit for the duration until your home sold. Don’t stuff closets and drawers. Potential buyers will; open closet doors and look in every nook and cranny to see how you’ve lived in your apartment, so they, in turn, can imagine themselves living in the space.
Make repairsMake repairs
That leaky faucet? Does that floorboard squeak? Repair anything in your apartment that doesn’t work well. You’ll want the last thing ever in tip-top shape when lookers start traipsing.
Clean upClean up
Scrub every inch of your apartment. And if you hate to clean or it’s not your forte, hire a professional cleaning service to get the job done right.
Be sure the halls are tidy.Be sure the halls are tidy.
If your public spaces are dirty, ask your super to clean them, or take a broom yourself. Be sure your front door is clean and has a fresh coat of paint.
Let go emotionallyLet go emotionally
Takedown family photos and think of your apartment as an item you’re selling and not your home. It’s best to detach yourself emotionally from the get-go.
Buy fresh flowersBuy fresh flowers
Flowers add color and life to any room, so before each open house, head to the nearest bodega, purchase a bunch and arrange in a pretty vase.
Light a fragrant candle or use air freshenerLight a fragrant candle or use air freshener
Everyone wants to live in a fresh-smelling apartment. Light a candle with a subtle fragrance to match the season in which you’re trying to sell.
Adjust temperatureAdjust temperature
Run the air conditioning in the summer or at any warm time of the year, and if it’s the dead of winter, be sure your digs are warm and cozy.
Bake cookies or serve something cold to drinkBake cookies or serve something cold to drink
I don’t recommend turning the oven on if it’s July or August, but nothing makes any home smell better than cookies fresh out of the oven. In warmer months, try serving iced tea or lemonade to your open house guests.
Top Open House Myths Discussed and DebunkedTop Open House Myths Discussed and Debunked
Open houses are a bit of a controversial topic in real estate. Ask ten real estate agents their thoughts on open houses, and you’re likely to get ten different opinions. As with most things, there are pros and cons to open houses. Understanding them will decide to do one or not a lot easier if you are a seller who thinks of whether to do an open house or not; these myths you need to dispel.
They’re hard to doThey’re hard to do
The most common objection people have to do an open house is the effort and money they believe it takes to do one. How much time and effort you put into it is entirely up to you. Your agent will know how to market a property based on the current market and the neighborhood, knowing what’s essential and what can be left out. For even more comfortable and better results, it also helps to hire a home staging expert.
You don’t meet serious buyers at open houses.You don’t meet serious buyers at open houses.
Another big objection people have is that open houses only attract noisy and curious neighbors. No doubt, you will get some of those, but most people who take the time out to see an open house have at least some interest. It only takes one serious buyer, and if you can get enough people through the door, you’re bound to find at least one.
They never result in a crime.They never result in a crime.
It’s not all good. Open houses have many benefits, but as with almost everything, there are pros and cons. Thievery does happen, and it’s hard to protect against when you have over a hundred people passing through in a day. The only real way to protect against this is to have most of your objects stored away. A home staging expert will typically have furniture and ornaments of their own, which can be put in place for an open house. It will usually be recommended anyway as a way to make a home look more stylish and modern.
They’re necessary to sell a home.They’re necessary to sell a home.
Open houses are a great way to attract buyers and get the market buzzing about a property. However, don’t let anyone tell you that they are essential. In the digital age, most buyers now look online. If they see a property they’re interested in, they will call their buyer’s agent or schedule a showing directly. An open house won’t always be required, so don’t ever feel pushed into it if you have doubts.
An open house is not effective.An open house is not effective.
There’s a flipside to that. While an open house is not always necessary, it would be wrong to believe that they’re never effective. Those who think so point out that if there is no offer, then the ROI is zero. While this may be true, it overlooks the in-person feedback you can get. Feedback can be used by you and the realtor to modify the property for future events.
The 2017 NAR report on home staging found that 49% of buyer’s agents cited home staging as affecting a buyer’s view of the home. Not a huge number, but that and other statistics in the report show that open houses are far from ineffective.
Do’s and Don’ts for Sellers Hosting OpensDo’s and Don’ts for Sellers Hosting Opens
There are many rules to follow when it comes to Open Houses. Here are just a few of the dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when hosting an Open House.
Open House Do’sOpen House Do’s
Do: Make sure the home is clean, uncluttered, and showcased in the best possible light. A surefire way to dissuade buyers is to present your home as messy or unmanageable. It’s a great excuse to clean and declutter anyway, so take advantage of the opportunity. You’ll also have less to pack when you start boxing up your belongings for moving day.
Do: Make yourself scarce during the viewing. While you’ll be curious and may be anxious about the Open House, it’s best that you let your agent handle the; viewing without you there. They’re professionals, and they know what they’re doing to showcase your home to the right buyers.
Do: Spread the news to the neighbors. Let your neighbors know that you’re hosting an Open House and make them aware of the date and time. They may know someone looking to buy a new home, and you’ll make them feel included in the process. It’s also helpful to give them a heads-up about why they might see strangers in the neighborhood that day.
Open House Don’tsOpen House Don’ts
Don’t: Create any distractions in the home. There are some tricks that home sellers sometimes enlist to add to the appeal of the home: lit candles, fresh-baked cookies, fresh flowers. But some sellers go to the extreme and employ some unsuccessful, over-the-top tactics. Live entertainment is fun and can draw a crowd, but it can distract from the real purpose of presenting the home to a serious buyer.
Don’t: Invite your friends to stop by. An Open House is not an invitation to a party. Again, the intention is to sell your home; this is a serious business transaction; be dealt with as such. Only invite those friends who have expressed serious interest in purchasing your home. And let your agent handle any interaction with them in regards to the price and sale. That age-old adage of mixing friends with business also applies when selling your home.
Open House of HorrorsOpen House of Horrors
Let’s start by saying that not everyone agrees on what is appropriate, and some do not care. However, that said, whether you care or not, it’s worthy of giving it some thought on how one might react to entering an apartment in a particular scenario. It is time to face it: the more people your home appeals to, the better price it will likely sell for or, in some cases, sell. Unless you want your apartment looking like a “going out of business” sale, taking care of some of the items below might find you a Buyer.
Sex Toys are UsSex Toys are Us
“Fifty Shades of Grey” displayed in the bedroom can satisfy your taste for exhibitionism and reveal your passionate soul, but you might want to reconsider. Is it necessary to leave your furry handcuffs or feathers on the bedside table and something that resembles a vibrating device for a neck massage? If you are selling a two-bedroom, there is a good chance for potential buyers with a young child might becoming. Sometimes less is more.
Animal HouseAnimal House
We love pets, but sometimes it can be a bit much, like three cockatoos, even though they say “Hello!” all together at the same time and are beyond cute. Coupled with a cat, you mostly have a “Tom and Jerry” situation. No doubt, unique, but, if possible, better to avoid. How about not leaving the cat or dog food out, or, maybe, just giving the litter a cleaning?
Light a match, open a window, or if you have to, Febreze for the life of g-d. Candles are readily available and elevate your open house. Perhaps, if you want to take it to another level, most of us love chocolate chip cookies baked fresh.
Dutch ovenDutch oven
Whether you have taken on the role of the Big Lebowski or decided to rent your place to marijuana enthusiasts, keep in mind that smoke sticks to everything in the apartment and can be overpowering unless you just rolled one before shopping for a home.
Storage is necessary for New York City; everyone needs more, but turning your living and other rooms into a storage facility usually is not an excellent idea. Space is equally important as storage, so finding a balance might be a great place to start.
The StalkerThe Stalker
Maybe you have finished your apartment to the nines; it’s worthy of a feature in the Architectural Digest, but please let your agent do his/her job with a little space. Having an owner sitting in a rocking chair or following you around the apartment is creepy, and a great way to alienate a potential buyer.
All sellers try to maximize their capital upside, but this should not be at the expense of having your place cleaned before opening your doors to the market. There is nothing worse than walking into a dirty bathroom. How about washing the dirty bathroom mat. It doesn’t cost much, and cleanliness always goes a long way. Excellent Green Cleaning is a company we recommend, not the cheapest but the best.
Master ChefMaster Chef
Just because you love food doesn’t mean you can cook. Many find out the hard way by sending photos of dishes to Gordon Ramsey on Twitter only to get roasted on how shocking the plate may look. Many of us want to be Anthony Bourdain or the next “Master Chef,” but we’re better off keeping our day jobs in reality. Keep this in mind, before storing your food experiment in a clear container in the fridge instead of a plastic garbage bag. Many buyers like to open a refrigerator.
Bad JuJuBad JuJu
Don’t stuff your pets and animals; taxidermy does not sit well in an apartment. Let go, and let them RIP. Religious symbolism can be a bit much for those of another faith. Antique furniture can also be cumbersome and cause negative energy, researching on how to rid your home of bad JuJu is recommended. Have you been looking for a home and walked in on any surprises? Share your stories below.