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Open Houses – 4 Ways to Sharpen Your Strategy

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By Joanne Cleaver

RISMEDIA, May 9, 2008-(MCT)-These are your mother’s open houses. Your grandma’s too, and that’s the problem. Brokers insist that open houses aren’t a waste of time because it is possible-though most admit, rare-that the perfect buyer strolls in and makes an offer that day.

Candid agents also say that open houses are terrific for them. They hope to sign up buyers who haven’t yet committed to an agent and hope to meet casual lookers who might buy if the agent finds their dream property.

The traditional tactics-bake cookies so the house smells homey, lock animals in the garage-aren’t enough in today’s market. Some agents are sharpening their open house strategies to attain more tangible results.

- Local cooperation. Some brokers are coordinating open houses by neighborhood or city, asking all agents who have listings there to hold open houses on the same afternoon. They hope to attract buyers who want to pack as many visits as possible into the same afternoon.

- Neighbors’ previews. If a house has been renovated or freshened, it might be worthwhile to open the doors to the neighbors. At the very least, they’ll appreciate a snack and socializing while they see the outcome of the construction. At best, one will buy the house.

Katherine Herschede, an agent with Realty Executives, held a neighborhood preview for a Fox Point, Wis., ranch renovated by Fairchild Homes, which is partly owned by her husband, John. Invitations were sent to 280 neighbors within a four-block radius. Nearly every house that Fairchild has sold, said John Herschede, has stemmed from referrals generated by a neighbors’ preview.

- National open house days. FSBO.com, a national website for owners trying to sell their houses by themselves, is encouraging its participants to hold open houses May 17 and 18. The effort will be backed by a national marketing campaign, company officials say.

- Broker open houses. Weekday open houses open primarily to other brokers are a longstanding tradition, but agents are trying harder to get other agents (who have their own posses of buyers) in the door to see houses for themselves.

Sellers should inquire with their agents about how they are leveraging brokers’ open houses, agents say.

© 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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