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RISMEDIA, April 17, 2008-Illinois real estate isn’t selling like it used to and that means sellers and their agents are being more proactive. According to RE/MAX real estate agents around Chicago, a slower economy means more open houses than ever in Illinois.

“To see what we mean, just take a drive through almost any prime residential neighborhood early on a Sunday afternoon. Count all the ‘Open House’ signs there are,” says Jim Merrion, regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois.

“In the last 18 months there has been a higher inventory of unsold homes. That has contributed to an increase in the use of open houses as a sales tool. It is an effective way to get the word out in the immediate neighborhood about your property. Also, your neighbors can be your best sales team because they know people – friends, family, and colleagues – who might like to live nearby,” he said.

More People Going Online to Find Open Houses

“I’ve seen a shift in buyer behavior over the last five years,” said Carrie Georgitsis of RE/MAX Signature in the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago.

“They are doing more on-line research, which makes it easy to find open houses listed. When they like a property that has an open house scheduled, they will go to the open house. Then, if they like the property, they will come back with their agent for a second look.”

Open Houses Motivate Potential Buyers

Karen Hilgers of RE/MAX Blackhawk Valley in Andalusia, Illinois finds that an open house can be a good way to motivate hesitant buyers who are already interested in the home. “It lets those interested buyers know they may suddenly have some competition, and that can be all you need to get an offer on the table,” she said.

Open house are also one of the few ways to attract “impulse buyers,” the kind of buyer who sees a house for sale, takes a good look at it and falls in love with it, notes Marrion.

More Time for Open Houses in a Slow Market

Open houses are more common now than they were three years ago in a slower Chicago real estate market, according to Judy Kratville of RE/MAX Brokers in Westchester, Illinois.

“A few years ago, you might get 12 or 15 different buyers, couples or singles, at an open house. Now, the average is closer to three or four,” she said.

“I’m not a big advocate of open houses, but in this market I’m doing more of them,” said Gwen Broughton of RE/MAX Showcase in Waukegan, Illinois. “Sellers want to see you doing everything you can to get their home sold.”

More Tips from Illinois Real Estate Agents

– Sunday afternoons are the best times for attracting visitors to an open house.
– Mail post cards to invite neighbors and prospects. Also list in the local newspaper and on Websites.
– Be sure the home for sale is as clean and neat as possible for the open house.
– Empty the garbage cans, clean out the closets, get rid of the clutter and polish the bathroom fixtures. Think model home.
– Real estate agents should attend open houses and get valuable feedback by watching and listening to potential buyers.
– Think of creative ways to attract word of mouth marketing that could lead to a sale.

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