Realtors Reveal Secrets for a Successful Open House

Open houses are stressful: rooms need to look like a magazine and smell like fresh laundry, but appear approachable enough not to scare off prospective buyers. Forget old tales about cinnamon sticks in the oven and try out these fresh tricks from some of Chicago’s most successful real estate professionals.

Alan Berlow, Coldwell Banker

  • Get your house professionally deep cleaned. A once-over with the vacuum will not be enough for sharp-eyed potential buyers.
  • Clear your house of basic clutter, but also be mindful of larger distractions like artwork and pictures. “Only keep a very limited number of religious objects you may have in your home,” Berlow says. “You don’t want distractions – good or bad – to take away from the showing.

Joe Stacy, Koenig Rubloff Berkshire Hathaway

  • Make sure the outside of the house is immaculate, from the lawn to the light fixtures. “First impressions are the most important,” Stacy says. “Replace the doormat, repaint the mailbox, everything.”
  • Don’t underestimate the power of fresh flowers. Scented candles can smell too strong to some buyers – or look like you’re trying to cover up an unpleasant scent. Go natural, Stacy suggests, and pick up a nice arrangement from the store.

Lori Neuschel, @Properties

  • Have an extremely knowledgeable agent. “The attitude and aspect of an agent can make or break an open house,” Neuschel says. “They need to know more than just the repairs and attributes of the house – they need to know the schools, the community, the whole neighborhood.”
  • Make sure the landscaping is immaculate. “Flowers in pots are always a very big plus,” Neuschel says.

Annie Flanagan, Coldwell Banker

  • Put the open house on social media. “I use everything from Twitter to real estate sites like Zillow,” Flanagan says. “I also always put a print advertisement in the local paper and the Chicago Tribune.”
  • If it’s going to be a bigger open house, have the realtor bring an assistant. That way no prospective buyers are wandering around the house by themselves without anyone to share details about the home with them.

Kathryn and Kelly Mangel, @Properties

  • Use your open house as an opportunity to repaint the walls and have that fresh paint smell in your home.
  • Run a dehumidifier in the basement for a few days before the open house. “Regardless of the weather, a dehumidifier running will help the house smell much cleaner and fresher than it might otherwise,” Mangel says.

Jean Wright, Jean Wright Real Estate

  • Illuminate your house: turn on every single light and open all the shades. Make sure all the bulbs are replaced and all the light fixtures are dusted.
  • The realtor needs to be able to answer questions that potential buyers didn’t even know they had, Wright says. “They’re not just a realtor, they’re a tour guide, too. Be more than prepared.”

Lisa Miceli, Jameson Sotheby’s

  • Have professional photos of the interior and exterior taken for marketing purposes before the open house. “Market it as much as you can,” Miceli says. “Have your agent put it out on every platform available to them.”
  • Keep a sign-in sheet at the open house and make sure every buyer signs it. Then have the realtor follow up and ask if they have any further questions about the property.

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