How Much is Going Overboard for an Open House?
Or, Are You Not Doing Enough?
Home showing etiquette is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Depending on the market you’re in and the type of clients you’re dealing with, you may have to do very little to show the home, and in others, you may have to go all out. This can be a bit tricky when it comes to deciding how much to invest in showing a property (or, how much your seller should invest) and when to hold back. At the end of the day, some homes show themselves and some don’t, and it’s your job (depending on which agent you are!) to make the magic happen.
But, when are you doing too much and when are you doing too little? Here are the dos and don’ts of home showing.
Do: Offer Snacks and Refreshments
Don’t: Throw It Together
It’s definitely a good idea to offer some snacks and refreshments to people at the showing. At one point in time, many agents would even bake something in the oven, but that’s not as common as it once was. Having some drinks available—like coffee, tea, juice, and water—along with some snacks—like pretzels, crackers, fruit, cheese, etc.—can go a long way. If you’re working in an expensive market, you may also want wine bottles, champagne, etc. Some even do parties, but only you know what’s appropriate for your market.
What you end up putting out for people is not so much the what, but the how. Out some effort into. It may seem easy to grab some juice boxes, bags of Cheez-Its from Costco, and wine-coolers, but take that extra time to make sure you can put together a little presentation. This can tell buyers a lot about the effort that’s going into selling the home. And, it makes people feel comfortable and welcome!
Do: Make Sure the Home Smells Good
Don’t: Go Crazy With Scents
A home should always have a pleasant smell—or no smell—when potential buyers come in. Smell is pivotal to our other senses and how we remember a place. A good smell can invoke a good feeling, and a bad smell can do the opposite. But, sometimes, no smell at all is the way to go. If a home is not quite pleasing your olfactory nerves, then consider lighting some very neutral candles about thirty minutes before people arrive. Air fresheners can be too strong and too obvious. Of course, if the smell isn’t going away, then something may be going on.
Do: Make the Home Tranquil
Don’t: Blast the Music
To go off of scents, some agents will play music during open houses. But, it’s not a shopping mall. While some light music (that’s barely noticeable) can perhaps help cover up unwanted noise from outside, it should be very calm music that makes the home feel peaceful and relaxing (think: cafe music). Again, it should be very subtle. Do not blast the music, whatever you do, and don’t put anything with lyrics that may make some people uncomfortable! NAR has a suggested playlist here, but perhaps not every song will make sense for your showing, so listen to it beforehand and/or add your own taste. (And, try to avoid using Alexa so other people don’t start trying to change the music).
Do: Stage and Decorate
Don’t: Accessorize Too Much
If the situation/market calls for it, staging a home can be a great way to attract serious buyers and move the process along quickly so that the home is more competitive. But, in most cases, it’s a good idea to call in a professional, unless you have some solid experience with this—especially because if you do end up investing in it yourself, there are ways to do it that don’t require you to spend a lot. It’s important to be thoughtful in your staging, as accessorizing too much (for instance, putting up too many lights or decorations during the holiday season) can send potential buyers right back out the door.
Do: Highlight the Front of the Home
Don’t: Make it Look Cluttered
When potential buyers drive up (or, walk-up) to the home, they should like what they see. First and foremost, it goes without saying that what they see shouldn’t be too different than any listing photos they’ve already seen online (so, go easy on the editing). Most people are eager to see the inside, but the front of the home will be their first impression and set the mood for the rest of the experience.
Therefore, make sure the walkways are cleared, there’s no garbage waiting by the curb (obviously, some of this may be out of your hands), and keep the windows clear. If there’s a porch, make sure it is swept and tidy, and there’s no need to put tons of potted plants outside (but some flowers may work for curb appeal depending on the season). However you’d keep a house normally, that’s the way to go!
Do: Make Visitors Feel at Home
Don’t: Don’t Follow Them Around
When you do a showing, it can be tempting to lead your buyers around the house (or, in some cases, follow them). But, under no circumstances should you do this, unless you’ve spent enough time with them already to know that they prefer being walked through the home and told about the features. So, say hello and tell them some quick facts about the home, and let them be on their way. Tell them to take as much time as they need and you’ll be around to answer any questions if they have them.
Keep in mind, though, that there is a bit of a talent that comes with this. Although you should give clients space, being too quick to stay back can have you come off as lazy or uninterested. So, just tread carefully when you do this and make sure you are still showing interest and concern.
So, what do you think is too much or too little when doing an open house or showing? Let us know in the comments below!