By Jesse McCarl
Broker previews will work wonders to sell a property, and open houses will work wonders to build your network. We’ve shared secrets to a successful open house as well as themes to make your listing memorable. Today, however, we will discuss the easy-to-fall-for pitfalls that could ruin your open house!
Focus on Smell
This is an easy pitfall to succumb to. Your instinct in to create a warm, homely scent for the property you’re trying to sell. You go out and find some cozy candles at Bath and Body Works and overwhelm the property with a cacophony of smells. No, no, no! Buyers can burn their own candles, they don’t need you to force your own fragrences on them while they’re trying to explore the estate. If anything, they’ll assume the blend of aromas is to cover up something they aren’t supposed to be smelling.
Try Instead: Just focus on cleanliness. As long as they know the place doesn’t have any mildew, rot, or other scent-triggering problems, they’ll have no problem with a bland-smelling open house.
Again, fight your gut on this one. If it’s a blazing summer day, you’ll want to make the house freezing. If it’s a cold winter day, you’ll want to crank the heat. This can be distracting. You want everything about an open house to seem neutral so that the buyer can project his/her own preferences. This goes for temperature, too.
Try Instead: Set the thermostat to cool or warm, not cold or hot. Somewhere between 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit should suffice.
The biggest turn-off to any potential buyer is the presence of the homeowner. This is one of the most important ways that a real estate agent comes in handy. Potential buyers should be free to explore the property, ask the tough questions, and immerse themselves in the rooms. They won’t be able to do any of this if the homeowner is breathing down their necks. They can’t ask difficult questions if they’re greeted with defensive answers.
Try Instead: If you really want to set yourself apart as an agent, pay for your clients to be out at a long lunch or movie so that they don’t need to be at the house. Tell them you’ll call when it’s safe for them to return. If they argue, remind them that such protectiveness is exactly why they shouldn’t be in the house.
Pets… And Everything Associated
Little Buddy is adorable and obviously he would work wonders to sell the house. Except not so much. Something the human race has failed to understand since the beginning of time: No one else cares about your pet. So put the pet in a kennel or at a friend’s house for the day.
Try Instead: You don’t want to just get rid of the animal. You need to hide any traces of the animal. Multiple homebuyers report that a litter box at an open house is a major turn-off. Like we said above, you don’t need some fancy odor replacement, but you do need to make sure the place is clean of pet stains, dander, etc.
Like smells, many potential buyers will think music is involved in the open house to cover up something else such as road noise, loud piping, or neighbor commotion. You think you’re setting a tone, but you’re likely creating a distraction.
Try Instead: Maybe there’s a logical reason to have noise that kills any awkward silences. Maybe the local football team has a game you can put on the TV. But even if you find an audio substitute for elevator music, you still don’t want that noise to fill every room. Let a majority of the house sit in silence. This will force dialogue about the property, which is where you really shine, anyway!
All of the items on this list are things that agents could understandably think will benefit an open house, when really they only distract buyers and hurt the likelihood of a new prospect. This makes them all very dangerous pitfalls. Let us know any other ways to ruin your open house that you’ve discovered in the comments below!