Sunday, June 7, 2009

Open houses and the people that show up at them

So I've spent the weekend (and Saturday of last weekend) sitting at an open house that's on the auction block. Of all the repossessed homes I've been in, it's probably the nicest. It has all of it's appliances (and cabinets!), there are no holes in the walls, the carpet isn't stained a rainbow of different garage chemicals and it's really pretty clean. But it is empty. So all three times I've held the open house, I bring my table and a chair, as well as two bags full of paperwork and books. I set up my little corner with my laptop and my coffee and I spend my time either emailing listings to clients or catching up on my reading. I've started and finished two books over the three days. There's a lot of down time at an open house.

I'm not a big fan of open houses. I don't really think they help sell the house you're holding open. I personally have never bought a house I saw at an open house. I don't know anyone that has. It's probably different in this situation since the house is required to be held open so people can check it out before they bid on it at the auction. It's not so much an open house as it is a "due diligence tour" for people planning on going to the auction. But, I did put out open house signs and that in turn brought the typical parade to my door.

There are five types of people that show up at an open house.

The first ones are almost always the neighbors. They seem a little hesitant to come in. It's like they don't want to disappoint the person sitting behind the table by admitting they are just being nosy. I welcome them in and let them know that half of the neighborhood's already been through. They want to see what the house is priced at and how it compares to their home amenities wise. The neighbors are not a happy lot in this situation. Some of them have the exact same floor plan, but paid twice as much as what this one will probably sell for.

The second ones through the door are the people planning on going to the auction. Most of these are investors. You can tell them because they have clipboards, tape measures and spreadsheets that they fill out as they go. Their conversations are less about the prettiness factor and more about needs. Does it need paint? Carpet? The appliances are all here. Needs landscaping. One talks while the other takes notes. They don't generally linger.

The third ones are the people with their agents. The seem nervous about speaking with me, like they've been forewarned by their agent that I may try to "steal" them. They walk quietly through the house not saying anything either way about what they like or dislike about the house. Their agents hover around them, watching them like hawks for any sign of disloyalty. The best part about the agent/client combo though, is that they steal their own registration page. I am required by my broker and the seller to have everyone register prior to viewing the home. All three agents that brought clients dutifully filled out the registration and then at some point took it with them. WTF? I get that some agents might steal a client but my theory on that is this: If you do your job to the best of your ability and don't ever skimp on service, your client will never feel the need to get another agent. Just don't steal my registration page in lieu of doing your job.

The fourth kind of people that come through are unrepresented people that truly are in the market for a new home. Some of them need to find a place quickly and some of them are on a more relaxed schedule, but at some point they will be buying a home. These people tend to be the most relaxed and the most willing to talk to the agent. They go through the house slowly commenting audibly to each other about specific details. They talk with the agent when they arrive and after they've been through the house. They ask about the neighborhood, the commute, the schools and whatever else comes up. These are the most enjoyable guests of the open house. They break up the five hour day and make it more bearable.

Lastly, we have the salespeople. Door to door salespeople have a perfect excuse for coming to the door, it's open! You can't hide because they know you're there! I only had one sales guy show up this weekend and we quickly established that I didn't need a windshield. He lingered a bit doing his salesman thing and eventually asked about my iphone. I told him I loved it but that I had an issue with the mapping. He thought for a second and then proceeded to tell me how to fix it. Now it works beautifully. I guess I'm glad he showed up too.


K-Mom said...

Hubby and I call the first group the "Looky-Lous." Our neighbors have their house on the market and the only people that seem to be taking the stat sheets on the house are the neighbors and what really hacks her off are people scheduling tours of the house who have no intention of buying it. They just want to see what it looks like on the inside.

She has a newborn and it's quite and effort to get the house ready and get herself and the baby out the door for someone who just wants to look around.