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Open Houses

If you hire a broker to sell your house, one of the first things your listing agent does after you've signed the listing contract is tell the local brokerage community about your property. One extremely effective way to get the word out is to schedule a brokers' open -- a special open house exclusively for local real estate agents.

Agents generally work with at least four or five serious buyers at any given time. A brokers' open is amazingly targeted marketing. No guarantees, of course, but don't be surprised if the first brokers' open leads to a sale. After all, having 50 agents tour your house is the equivalent of showing it to 200 or 250 motivated buyers.

Although your house obviously won't appeal to every one of the agents' buyers, you can bet it'll press hot buttons for a few of them. Well-priced, attractive property almost always generates immediate showing requests. With the advent of cell phones, agents don't even have to wait until they get back to the office to call their clients about your property.

Most areas designate one particular day each week as Brokers' Tour Day during which agents and brokers tour newly listed properties. If many new listings enter the market the week of your first brokers' open, some agents won't see your property due to scheduling conflicts with brokers' opens on other houses. Whatever the reason, the way around scheduling conflicts is to be sure that your listing agent schedules at least two brokers' opens.

Weekend open houses

We start by noting that folks usually think of public open houses as Sunday open houses. That idea is prevalent because most houses are held open on Sundays. However, no law says that you can't hold a Saturday open house every now and then to scoop up people who can't come to a Sunday open house. Nonetheless, we refer to all public open houses from now on as Sunday open houses for simplicity's sake.

Compared to brokers' opens, you have lower odds of making a sale directly by holding a Sunday open house. But if you're trying to sell your house without an agent, you won't have access to brokers' opens.

After you open your house to the world at large, not everyone who walks through the front door is a legitimate buyer. You get Lookie Lou's trying to pick up some decorating hints and curious neighbors who always wanted to know how your house looks on the inside. Unfortunately, other than an address, open house signs don't contain a wealth of specific information to help qualify prospective buyers.

In a perfect world, nobody steals. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect. Leaving small, easily portable valuables lying around during open houses is an open invitation to thieves. Figure out a place to put them so they are out of harm's way.