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A crucial part of selling any home 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 a good combination of timing, marketing, and advertising you can see your investment pay off big.
Understanding the Open House
If you’re not familiar 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 normally held on a weekend afternoon. People can just walk in and view the property for themselves to get an idea of what living there would be like. The listing agent will be present at all time to show people around and answer any questions.
However, many buildings in New York, especially co-ops, do not allow open houses. Some require that two agents be present at all times, others only allow open houses by appointment and others still have no restrictions whatsoever.
How to host an Open House in NYC
Every part of the plan for the open house should be well taught 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.
Choose the perfect time
The first thing to decide is what the best time and date is for hosting the open house. Sunday is the most common 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 11-5pm, 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 6-7pm can work but just know that weekday open houses can be hit and miss.
Marketing and advertising
When it comes to advertising, start with a simple sign. Have it not just on the door of your unit but also the doors leading into the building. If the building has a doorman make sure you keep him in the loop so he can properly greet and direct any visitors.
Most importantly, if you don’t have any online advertising you effectively don’t have any advertising. A good 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 make sure this is mentioned in the advertising. A potential buyer may get in but a doorman can be difficult to work within this situation.
Last but not least, get the apartment set up for the open house. It would really help to hire a 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 like. 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.
Checklist: 11 Tips to Host a Successful Open House in Your Apartment
If you’ve decided to pull the trigger and, you or your broker will more than likely be hosting open houses on a regular basis 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 menial work right this moment, 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.
1. Know 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 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.
3. Rent 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 is sold. Don’t stuff closets and drawers. Potential buyers will open closets 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.
4. Make repairs.
That leaky faucet? That floorboard that squeaks? Repair anything in your apartment that doesn’t work well. You’ll want ever last thing in tip-top shape when lookers start traipsing through.
5. Clean 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.
6. Be sure 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.
7. Let go emotionally.
Take down 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.
8. Buy 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.
9. Light 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.
10. Adjust 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.
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.