Preface: I am a REALTOR in Massachusetts, however, the below information does not constitute any legally biding actions or determination; rather this is all my personal opinion.
When it comes to an open house many believe they will make or break the sale of a home. The question is, who believes what? If you ask a seller, nine times out of ten, they will tell you they want an open house this Sunday and every Sunday going forward until the house is sold. As a Realtor, I and everyone else can attest to hearing this on a consistent basis. The problem is that open houses dont typically sell houses. According to the National Association of Realtors, only about 2% of people that come through and open house will actually make a purchase. Open houses are great for getting ideas, learning or seeing an area for the first time and sometimes even brings out the nosy neighbor crowd. Realtors dont mind doing open houses because they are great tools to meet prospective buyers. Not everyone coming to your open house will already be working with an agent, so you have the potential to add buyers to your client list, but of course, this doesn’t help the sellers who you are working with and hosting the open house for. Dont be fooled by what you see on HGTV. Not all homes can be flipped in three weeks and not all open houses have fruit, snacks and an offer two hours after the open house ends. These reality shows are incredibly unrealistic and set many false expectations for both buyers and sellers.
Sellers Open House Responsibilities
Sellers do have responsibilities of their own for the open house. One of the most obvious and important ones is to clean up. An open house is typically the first impression a buyer will get of your property. That means that you should have the house in as perfect shape as possible down to every detail. Depending on the situation and what the property may look it, it may be beneficial to hire a professional cleaning crew to come in before the open house and really spruce the place up. Keep in mind to change trashes and remove anything that can cause a fowl odor such as baby diapers. You might want to invest in some Glade plugins or various other scented devices to create a neutral or pleasant smell.
Sellers should also pay attention to what they leave out. This can apply to personal items, bathroom items, valuables and jewelry as well as family photos, art and collectibles. The fact is an open house can have dozens of people, plus their agents, plus their kids. With so many people and usually one agent, maybe two its tough to keep eyes on everyone and everything. To avoid a possible problem you should lock up anything and everything you hold dear in a safe or take them with you when you leave. I specifically mention any medications and/or weapons MUST be removed from the home prior to any open houses, this is in everyones best interest and seems fairly obvious.
Perks and Bonuses
I had the luxury recently of listing a home in which one of the owners was a fantastic baker, decorator, diy-pinterest-project extraordinaire. What this meant for me was an open house with a nice twist. She baked treats for the guests, had different areas throughout the house with beautifully decorated snacks, etc. Another agent in my office recently did an open house in conjunction with a mortgage broker and actually had Fondue! These perks at open houses can certainly make you stand out as agent, but can also make the house you are showing stand out in the buyers mind. The sellers rarely care how you sell their house, as long as you sell it (within legal means, of course). Sellers are typically willing to play a role in their open houses since they truly believe the open house will sell their home. Be an involved seller and you may see faster results, but be an understanding seller as well and realize on top of you the agent has other clients to attend to an an open house every weekend is not just taxing on you and them, but it may simply be overkill, spreading them out a few weeks apart, after the initial one or two, may result in better turnouts with new groups of buyers.