An open house can help to sell homes

OPEN houses can be an important tool in selling property but are only now gaining ground in the UK despite being popular with overseas vendors. Mark Newton from Newton Fallowell offers some tips on when and how to open your home.schemes.

Common sense says it is smart to expose your home to the largest number of possible buyers, and enticing buyers to preview a home can be a difficult hurdle to jump. International real estate agents report that around 20 per cent sell directly through an open house.

An open house is where, for a limited time, a buyer opens their house to the public.

An open house is usually supervised by the managing Estate Agent, who will also follow up on serious leads post-event. It may last anywhere from half an hour to three hours, depending on the location of the house, the availability of both agent and vendor, and accessibility.

Owners may wonder who an open house targets. Naturally, potential buyers actively looking for property are likely to be interested, however, in reality most visitors will be curious locals.

Where is the value in this? Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. A property viewed first-hand will be discussed in wider circles increasing the market exposure.

There are several strategies for increasing the appeal of your property for an open house event.

Make certain the house is spotless and ensure it is easy to find. Temporary signboards directing buyers to the property are essential. One of these signs should be at the busiest intersection closest to the property and every few blocks from this point, ending at the house.

Remove all vehicles from the driveway and ask your neighbours to assist by not parking out front.

Open curtains, blinds and window coverings to let in as much natural light as possible and turn on every light, except those that produce noise.

You may choose to play soft music in the background to help set a relaxed mood. If your collection tends towards rock music or techno, refrain as not every buyer will share your taste in music. The same goes for scents. Do not under any circumstances use air freshener as many people are allergic to synthetic odours.

Your agent should present high quality colour flyers and if you have blueprints for improvements or additions, make them available so buyers can see the potential. If you choose to be there to greet visitors, be upbeat, cheery and treat every visitor as a potential buyer. Find out what people are looking for and show them how your home fits those requirements.

Finally, ask for feedback. This may give ideas on improvements or concerns you can address with future buyers.

Bear in mind also that not every home is suitable for an open house. For an exclusive property priced at the upper end of range, an exclusive approach is necessary to attract suitable buyers. If a property is difficult to access, hard to find, or requires a more personal approach to explain certain features, it may be wise to allow viewing by appointment only. Discuss this with your agent to determine the best approach for your home.