How to make the most of selling via an open house

Q: I’m trying to sell my property – should I hold an open house? What are the benefits and what’s the best approach?

A: If you’re selling your property, an open day can be a great way to drum up interest and competition quickly. It gives buyers the opportunity to view the property but it also allows them to see their potential competition, which is more likely to encourage them to act quickly when making an offer. This means that your property is unlikely to languish on the market, which can happen with a more traditional sales approach.

Do ensure that you give at least a couple of open house viewing days or slots as hosting only one open day can sometimes limit your market if buyers aren’t able to attend. You don’t want to give such a limited window of opportunity that potential buyers miss out. Equally you don’t want buyers to feel too rushed or pressurised. I’ve seen estate agents put undue pressure on buyers and it can lead to buyers getting carried with their initial bids in a panic, only for them to get cold feet later down the purchase process when they’ve had time to properly reflect on their offer.

If you’re a buyer, an open day is a useful opportunity, but it can also be quite stressful, especially if you find yourself in a confined space with a lot of competing buyers. In most cases, you also won’t get to actually meet the vendor so will have to find other ways to leave a good impression. As a buying agent, we take a different approach; we will always try to get our clients into a property ahead of the open day, giving them the opportunity to walk around in private, without the heat of the competition, as well as giving them the chance to meet the vendor which can provide a significant advantage.

However, if you choose to go it alone as a buyer without representation of a buying agent, the estate agent will be present so it’s good to get in touch the day before to let them know that you’re coming and to introduce yourself once you get there. This shows that you’re reliable and helps to make you stand out a bit more. A lot of sellers will ask for the selling agent’s advice on who they think comes across as the best buyer, so it’s good to get brownie points with the estate agent.

If the open house results in a sealed bid situation, which many of them do, a good tip is to wait to put in an offer until fairly close to the sealed bid deadline in order to get a better idea on how many people are bidding. You could also ask the agent for more information on the other buyers and, whilst a lot of the time they won’t disclose much, it is worth asking.

Lastly, don’t try to second guess what other buyers are going to offer; instead focus your attention on what you can afford and what the property is worth to you, then write a great offer letter subtly highlighting why you’re a better buyer than the competition.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.