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Open house

Open house is a term every homebuyer and seller should know. Bankrate explains it.

What is an open house?

An open house is when a seller opens his home so that potential buyers can view it without an appointment. Buyers can ask questions of the real estate agent on hand and get information about the neighborhood, including schools, parks, churches, hospitals, and any upcoming development projects.

Deeper definition

An open house might be the first time, and possibly the last, that potential buyers will see a home. If they like what they see right away, they are likely to linger. The idea of an open house is to get as many eyes as possible on the property without the need for individual appointments. Preparing a home for a showing can be labor intensive. A house needs to be shined and polished only once for an open house, compared with multiple times for individual appointments.

Follow these suggestions for creating the best possible open house:

  • Emphasize the importance of first impressions. Sellers may have become so accustomed to the sights and smells of their home that they are unaware of how it appears to other people. Things like dirty carpets or dying houseplants can discourage a homebuyer on a subconscious level. If items out in the open are in poor shape, buyers may wonder about problems lurking beneath the surface.
  • Conduct an objective walk-through. Real estate agents are encouraged to delicately point out issues that will turn off buyers. Their suggestions may include a thorough cleaning, decluttering, and simple repairs.
  • Encourage the use of a storage unit. Only when someone begins to move do they realize how many things they have accumulated. Sellers should pare down their home to what they absolutely need and store the rest until after the sale. With less clutter, the space feels more open and appealing.
  • Insist sellers and pets stay elsewhere during the open house. As soon as buyers realize that sellers are present, they become self-conscious about looking through the property and may not stay long enough to become interested.

Open house example

An open house is a great way to start selling or looking for a home. Among the advantages are:

  • Draws in visitors in a variety of ways. A well-advertised open house gives friends, family and neighbors an opportunity to invite anyone they know who might be interested in the property. Proper signage will also lure visitors who might not have otherwise found the home. Open houses can pull in buyers who do not know how to begin the homebuying process and need guidance.
  • Allows sellers to set the scene. Ideally, any home on the market is staged to look like a model home: spotlessly clean, well-appointed, organized, and judiciously designed. Just knowing that there is an upcoming open house can be enough to spur sellers into sprucing the place up, inside and out. Many sellers bake cookies shortly before an open house in order to make the house feel homey. They play soft music, place fresh flowers on tables, and otherwise create a space that potential buyers want to spend more time in.
  • Allows buyers to compare and contrast. Buyers interested in a particular area of town are able to see more than one house on a busy open house weekend. This allows them to get a better sense of what is available and to compare how much they can afford on their budget. It also gives sellers the chance to make their property stand out from everything else on the market.

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