By Sandra Foster
Like most people with an interest in real estate, I can’t resist an open house. When I used to travel internationally, I even went to open house events in Melbourne and other exotic locations. I was never going to buy a house and live there, but it was still great fun to see how people live. We all like to see other homes, especially the neighbors’.
As a real estate agent, I encourage neighbors and others who are simply looking to come in and enjoy. It gives me an opportunity to learn what people are thinking – about the market in general, the neighborhood, the home itself. Making those connections with new people are one of the pleasures of this career.
Enjoying open house events takes planning and thought. Property owners should consider the following general guidelines so that nothing untoward happens to spoil the event, and so their home shows to best advantage:
- Never leave valuables out in plain sight. Laptop computers, cell phones, jewelry, etc should all be stored out of sight or removed.
- Prescription medicines can be a temptation – put them away where visitors are unlikely to look.
- We all know about clutter, so learn from all those HGTV shows, and your agent – depersonalize and clear out! Anything small and easily pocketed should not be left out.
- Consider sentimental items, especially breakables. I am an avid collector of antiques, and have several items inherited from a beloved grandmother, all of them fragile and irreplaceable. When I’ve listed my own home for sale, these things are put safely away.
- Bathmats, used towels, full wastebaskets, children’s toys, laundry out in plain sight – not for the open house, please.
We are used to personalizing our homes, so some of these guidelines can be hard for people to take in. Keep in mind, however, that the goal is to encourage someone else to want the home – neutralizing your personal touches makes it easier for the prospective next owner to see themselves living there. When your agent gently suggests these preparatory steps, remember it’s with a single objective in mind – selling your home as fast as possible for the highest price.
Occasionally, I encounter a visitor who resists signing in. Agents have an obligation to protect their client’s property – remember that it’s for the information of the seller. A secondary objective is to find new prospective clients, of course. But, if you don’t wish any follow-up after the event, indicate so on the sign-in sheet and the attending agent will respect your privacy.
Sandra Foster is a Sales Representative with Royal LePage/Johnston & Daniel Division and a regular contributor to the Muddy York Real Estate Blog.