Preparing for an open house is a true team effort. Your encouragement and guidance are essential for the client to understand the scope of what needs to be done, but the actual preparations are in the client’s hands. Both of you will benefit from an open house that presents the home at its very best.
Here are five starting points for building teamwork for a win-win outcome:
1. Educate sellers about the importance of first impressions
People selling their homes typically aren’t marketing professionals and are in need of guidance. Sit down with your client beforehand and educate them about the importance of first impressions. In many cases, people hardly even use their front door and may not know what it is like to walk through that entrance.
Potential buyers form emotional reactions almost immediately, and these reactions are at the core of purchasing decisions. Homesellers need to remember that trivial details, such as a dying houseplant or a burnt-out light bulb, can discourage a potential homebuyer on a subconscious level.
2. Encourage clients to rent a storage unit
In most cases, good home staging requires the removal of furniture. In order to create spaces that feel open, rooms should not be crowded and walls should be free of family photos and excessive artwork. Closets, basements and garage areas should be partly emptied so that they give off the impression of ample storage room.
Present this suggestion to clients as a way of getting a head start on packing, and point out that a storage unit will relieve the anxiety of trying to make a crowded home look appealing.
3. Provide an objective walk-through
Everyone becomes accustomed to their own clutter, and after a while, stray objects simply blend in with the background. Clients may have every intention of cleaning up their homes, but they may be blind to the garden hose looping across the driveway or the dog toys scattered in the backyard. A conscientious agent can walk through and provide objective feedback, pointing out problem areas and providing supportive encouragement to the client as they tidy up.
4. Discuss the ROI of hiring professionals
Busy homeowners may already feel so overwhelmed with the logistics of financing and moving that they throw up their hands when it comes to tasks such as washing a dirty roof or pruning unkempt shrubs. They’re already removing their emotional investment in the home as they prepare to leave it and may resist the idea of pouring hours of labor into sprucing it up.
Drawing on your experience with conducting open houses of all kinds, you can point out the positive financial return on paying for professional help. You can even print articles like this one from Porch.com on the ROI of staging. Encourage overwhelmed clients to hire a house-cleaning team or a professional landscaper, and reassure them that it will be money well invested. You can even offer a list of respected local vendors so your client doesn’t have to search for them on their own.
5. Gently insist that clients and pets stay elsewhere
It’s surprising how often clients believe they should be present as guides to their open house. They feel responsible for pointing out all the wonderful things about a property. Do they want potential buyers to know about the rare birds who frequent the bird feeder or the exotic tulips that bloom every spring?
Make a list together of these extra-special features, or even ask your client to create a small photo album to illustrate the benefits that may not be obvious. Once the seller has provided every important detail about the house, help them plan an outing that includes their pets. All pet dishes and toys should also be removed for the day. Open house visitors should not be reminded that animals have been living in the home, because it may lead them to assume the presence of allergens or extra wear and tear.
Real estate professionals face a delicate task when it comes to helping clients prepare for open houses. Sellers can easily feel overwhelmed or judged. The home-staging process involves making the house look better, while also removing evidence of the seller’s own personality.
Sensitive and successful agents must provide clients with encouraging reminders of how great their home is while making the changes necessary for the open house. At the end of the day, if you can explain the very real financial benefits they will enjoy from a beautiful presentation, they will most often comply.