I am a freelance copywriter who happens to work with many real estate agents. This is my experience selling and purchasing my third home.
We decided during the final job interview, I would come along and we’d hit the open house circuit. That way we could get a feel for the area’s home styling and the neighborhoods.
We visited about six homes in the span of two hours, because apparently that’s all the time you get in Columbus, Ohio. Two hours on Sunday afternoon.
Generally, the open house visits went well. We got a sense of the areas we liked and the homes we liked. The style and layouts are very different from Florida and Kentucky. Basements. Furnaces. Two living rooms, two stories. And what’s with the Tudor facades?
What we saw in the open houses
All six open houses had very different presentations and organizations. Some shoes on, some shoes off. Some with water or a treat, others with nothing. All with sign-in paper forms. Nothing digital.
We walked through one home with candles burning. My immediate thought–”What’s wrong with this place?” That thought originated from my research about how candles and air fresheners are used to mask bad smells. Another had an owner that baked chocolate chip cookies for the open house. Apparently they also did their internet research.
Don’t do this at your open houses
Two things stuck out about the open houses:
- Don’t talk about the people viewing the home while they are still inside the home. Yes, this happened to us! We happened to be potentially serious buyers in the very near-term. On our way out the door, we heard the listing agent making a comment to another listing agent about us. No email or handwritten thank-you note is going to make us work with you.
- Listen to what people are telling you. Our last open house had an agent who absolutely bowled over anything we had to say. She talked TOO much and was trying TOO hard to sell us on her. I told her I’m a writer who does a lot of work for real estate agents. She pretty much ignored this comment. Then she assumed we were first-time buyers. We told her it was our third. She went on to lecture us about the home-buying process and how good it is to hear it again because real estate’s really like a triangle with the real estate agent, lender, and buyer all working together to close the deal and all the points of the triangle have to be strong and she loves to meet with her clients at Starbucks even it’s for half-an-hour to review the buyer’s process and counsel them on how it will work…. You get the point.
The open house follow-up
One real estate agent waited until the end before telling us the home had multiple offers. I understand the tactic behind this, but honestly, if there are already multiple offers I’m not throwing my hat in the ring. Don’t waste my time–we could have gone to visit another house.
Only one agent asked for our feedback on the home. He was pretty honest and forthcoming. We entertained the idea of using him as our buyer’s agent, when he asked.
Three real estate agents emailed us after our visit thanking for our attendance and offering their services. One included Ms. Chatterbox, who sent not just one email, but FOUR including sample available listings and an invite to a newsletter in a two-minute window. I don’t appreciate the aggressive push.
What have I learned about open houses? I know they are a point of contention in the real estate industry–I’ve written two blogs about them in the last three weeks.
Personally, for how we shop for homes, I found them useful for researching what we’d get at our price point. When we started seriously home shopping, we knew where we wanted to go and what to expect. As you’ll read in the future, it made the buying process go much faster having this background knowledge.
We also had one home we visited in contention when we started seriously shopping. Who knows? Someone may have landed a buyer from the open house.