The debate continues about whether open houses are effective for marketing St. Cloud homes. Yes, sales do still originate from them, but the percentages have been declining since social media and online listings changed the way St. Cloud prospects look for their next home.
Whether an open house is likely to garner qualified traffic is a decision that clients and I work out together on a case-by-case basis. The choice has to do with the nature of the property, its location, history, and the state of the current St. Cloud market. Some properties are much better suited to being shown on a one-on-one guided tour basis, where questions can be answered and strong points pointed out; others shine in any circumstances.
When it’s decided that an open house looks to be a productive event, preparing the property will be nearly identical to that for any showing. The only difference is that more prospective buyers will not have any idea about the house—they will not have seen any photos or taken a video tour. For the owner, then, preparing begins with projecting how those prospects will take in the property. This is a list of the six approaches that are most often cited as being keys to preparing for open house success:
1. First Impression. Most commentaries point to the perennial first impression as being decisive in how the entire open house will be experienced. “First impression” is defined as the prospect’s takeaway from what happens during the walk from car through the entryway. It rates extra attention, so in addition to making it as inviting as possible (via landscaping and paint touchup where it’s needed), if the route unescorted visitors should take is ambiguous, strategically positioned arrow signs make your welcome explicit (in fact, a “Welcome!” Isn’t a bad idea, either).
2. Clean clean clean. “Clean” can include not just sparkling floors, sinks, and countertops—it means clean air, too: a few clean-scented floral plug-ins make it easy.
3. De-clutter. This could also be #2. You could argue that if a crowd shows up, clearing open space is even more important than usual (but it’s really important always!)
4. Stash personal items. This is 85% true; but the goal is to create the impression that this home is ready for its new owner. Massive family photo displays should be packed away, but a few personal favorite décor items can add a people-friendly touch.
5. Light and bright. Curtains open, lights and lamps on.
6. The rest. The last of the “Top 6” tips is hard to determine—there are many candidates that are cited with equal frequency. Setting the dining room table used to be a leader, but formal dining rooms are disappearing fast. Setting out a local information sheet with great nearby St. Cloud restaurants and shopping venues is certainly a good idea for those new to the area. Being mindful of temperature control is important when weather might drive visitors away, as is buying new towels for the bathrooms and setting out cookies and lemonade, water or tea.
St. Cloud open houses are just one of the many ways your home can be offered to the public when you decided it’s time to move to a new place. All of them start with an easy first step: calling me!