Make Your Home Shine: Tips For A FSBO Open House That Converts Buyers

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Decided to sell your home For Sale By Owner (FSBO)? In a hot seller’s market that can be a smart tactic. That’s because when homes are scarce, they often “sell themselves,” especially if they’re in top-notch condition. Open houses are traditionally one of the most popular tactics to showcase homes for sale, and while part of a real estate agent’s function is to “run” the open house, you certainly can do it yourself with an FSBO home.

All it takes is a little know-how regarding the process. Here are some tips for hosting an effective open house for your FSBO property.

Plan It Right

Know the open house schedule in your area, recommends Sarah Drennan,broker/managerat Terrie O’Connor Realtors in Allendale, N.J. If most homes are open on Sundays, you’ll want to make sure yours is too, even if you also host on Saturday. “Consider adding an hour before and after to extend your open house,” she says. This added time can give buyers more of an opportunity to see your house if they have a packed weekend home-viewing schedule.

And then post it early; Wednesday is ideal, says James McGrath, a licensed real estate broker with Yoreevo in New York City. “That’s when buyers start to get bored at work and plan their upcoming weekend of open houses. If you wait until Thursday or Friday, buyers may already have a full docket.”

Remember Safety First

As an FSBO seller, you don’t have a real estate agent to be a “buffer,” so you have to be extra cautious, Drennan says. “Don’t host the open house alone,” she cautions. Not only is that for your own personal safety, but you also want someone with the visitors at all times, so they are not wandering your home unattended. Consider friends or family and make sure they are knowledgeable enough to lead a tour and answer questions.

You also should make sure that all valuables are out of the home, and that any medications are locked up. It is truly surprising what visitors do during open houses, and an FSBO open house might make your home appear to be an easier mark for a shifty character who might assume it’s not staffed as well as one held by an agent.

Get People In The Door

Your number one goal is to get people in the door, and for that you need marketing, marketing, marketing. Some tactics to consider:

  • Make a daily post on all your social media accounts, starting a full week before the event and leading right up to the day you hold your open house, suggests Aaron Bowman, REALTOR® with Bowman Realty Group in West Hartford, Connecticut. “Use pictures and video to show highlights of your home and encourage interest.”
  • Buy a Facebook ad and create an “event” on Facebook. “It’s the best way to reach the most buyers in the area,” Bowman says. NextDoor and Craigslist are other places that would-be buyers may be searching.
  • If your neighborhood is conducive to it, do a little personalized door knocking and call on the surrounding blocks; invite them to the open house and ask if they know anyone else who might be hoping to move to the neighborhood, suggests Jennifer Murtland, team leader for Team Synergi in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Saturate the local area with signs — lots and lots of signs, like 20 to 30, Bowman recommends.
  • Another potential way to boost traffic is to offer a raffle prize for one lucky person who signs in at the open house and checks in on Facebook. “It doesn’t have to be a big prize; it could even be something like dinner at a local restaurant,” says Bowman. Sometimes the restaurant owner will even cover half, he says.

Stage Your Home Like A Pro

Hopefully you’re doing this anyway for everyday showings, but open houses are a time you especially want your home to shine. Literally, of course, as in making sure everything is sparkling clean, but also by making every effort to showcase its best features, notes Christine Diehl, managing broker at Neat Homes. She recommends making your home look as functional as possible; for example, repositioning furniture to create symmetrical conversation spaces.

“If you have a small or quirky space, find creative ways to turn it from wasteful to charming,” she says, suggesting solutions like putting a kids’ nook under the stairs or fashioning an awkward bit of basement into a yoga corner or wine alcove.

She also recommends having home tours end in the kitchen. “It’s the heart of a home so make it one where your buyers can imagine entertaining guests and feeding their loved ones,” she says. Encourage them to linger with a small selection of snacks and beverages.

Make Your Home Welcoming

Do one last walkthrough to make sure that all the lights are on and the blinds are open,and then be ready to greet your guests. “Stand by the window or get a chair and sit outside so that you can wave people in,” says Murtland. “Do not make them ring the doorbell; they might not bother if they feel as though they are interrupting you.” You want to make it clear that you are waiting for them.

Instead of asking them to sign in themselves (which they might not do, or their information might be illegible), Murtland suggests asking them for their name and contact information. That also gives you the opportunity to chat with them a bit — how long have they been looking? Are they new to the area? Have they seen anything they like? And take the chance to share everything you have loved about the neighborhood. You can even jot down a short note about your conversation topics so that you can personalize your follow-up.

And yes, always follow up. Even if they were just looking for fun, they might know someone who is house hunting. It also can be a good way to get feedback on what they didn’t like about the home, if they are willing to be candid. Without your own agent doing some gentle probing, sometimes it’s hard to get input on any changes that might make the house more marketable.

An open house is an awesome opportunity for you to put your best foot forward and hosting it like a professional can help position your property in its top light.