Take Inventory before AND after open houses!
My kids have grown up listening to my stories regarding the incidents and experiences I have had in real estate. They grew up laughing and now as they get older, they keep saying, “Dad, you should write a book about all these experiences!” So, here I am writing a blog. Each experience is so unique on it’s own that I figured I would share one per blog…and…put a little serious tidbit in each one. Here goes: Lesson Learned For Realtor: (Hmmm… I will share what I learned at end in order to not “spoil” the story. It was a typical sunny day and the seller felt that an open house was necessary for her home to sell in the next few weeks. Typically, I would disagree. You see, less than 2% of homes are sold directly from an open house. However, this property was on a well traveled road and maybe, just maybe, it would create some additional interest in a down market, so I agreed. I did explain to the seller that the winner in most open houses is the Realtor as they will gain some additonal buyers as clients for themselves but very rarely will that home be sold directly from it. Ok, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, ” I will do an open house since we are in a down market, buyers are searching for homes now for the upcoming school year and I want to let everyone know that your home is for sale,”I stated. “However, since I am a Realtor that likes to “think outside the box”, let’s make this a HUGE open house.” “Absolutely!” They exclaimed! I proceeded to use the following week as preparation and advertised the open house everywhere that I could, some free avenues and some paid avenues, and then I mailed out handwritten invitations to all the neighbors on the block. I spent the last two days prior to the open house knocking on all the neighbors’ doors personally inviting them to the open house and encouraged them to think of anyone they may know that would like to see this home and help me in the task of choosing their new neighbor. It was proving to be a great success. I had balloons with helium tied to the exterior sign. I had left invitations at the nearby businesses and I had purchased some appetizers and lemonade. This would be a terrific open house. I called the sellers which had decided to spend the day at a lake about two hours away since I had told them it would be best that they were not in the home. I was assured they understood this so I was confident that this particular open house would not fit into the typical and common results for open house. This open house would change the statistics. As I entered this beautifully decorated home, it looked perfect. It was clean, tidy and ready for the open house. I proceeded to start turning all the lights on. As I walked by the breakfast counter I noticed a yellow piece of paper. “Dear Steve, Thanks for taking care of everything. We hope you find everything in good order. Please just make sure that “Fluffy” doesn’t get out. We left food and water for him and he is in the garage.” “No big deal,” I thought. The open house went well and we even had a possible buyer for this home. We had about 25 people through there which is a great result! Pleased, I placed all the leftovers and all my items back in the car. I proceeded to open the garage side door and placed a chair in there. Then, I drove to the corner to get the directionals that I putd there. As I placed the sign in my back seat, a cocker spaniel jumped in. “Oh no, Fluffy! You got out of the garage!” Fluffy then jumped out from the back seat and ran. “Great!” The street is quite busy and this would not be easy to explain to the sellers! I started to run and chase Fluffy. I wish I had the Dog Whisperer’s number on speed dial because this dog thought I was playing. Each time I got about two feet from him, he would run! I went back to the car and got some of the leftovers, no luck! I started to run towards him, but he would just run faster. Finally, I decided to get in the car and open the door. Fluffy finally jumped back in the car. I drove back to the house and let him back in the garage and left quickly! Phew! The day is finally done! I went home jumped on my couch and relaxed with my wife and kids. I knew the seller would be calling soon so I enjoyed the moments I had. Promptly at 7pm, my phone rang. The seller asked, “How was it?”. I let her know it went well, and gave her the details. “Hmm, is there anything you want to tell me?” “Umm, not sure what else to say,”confused as to what she was asking but wondering if she had heard about Fluffy’s getaway.” “Well, I stuttered, is everything ok?” The seller began to laugh and said, “I just wondered how when I left, I had 1 cocker spaniel and now I have 2!” Lesson Learned: Count the animals when you get there and again when you leave…. Update: About 6 months later, we realized that the owner never did find the rightful owner of the stray cocker and also realized that the “Fluffy” I found was not a boy… Home did sell and Fluffy and the new dog became parents to an additional 4 pups! Thank GOD the seller loved cocker spaniels! Serious Tidbit: Open houses are not necessarily the best marketing direction to take. However, if you do choose to do one, be proactive and invite neighborhoods, create Facebook events,etc. Next Blog: Make sure your Seller is DRESSED FOR THE OCCASION!