As a realtor, one of the things I do is hold public Open House opportunities for homes that are currently listed for sale. In our area these are normally held on Sunday afternoons, and anyone who’d like to take a look at the house may stop by. Usually the Friday newspaper publishes lists of the coming weekend’s public open houses, giving the home’s location, listing price and the hours for the open house.
I’m often surprised by the low number of people who take advantage of these public open houses. Granted, on a beautiful day there may be more interesting things to do, but visiting a house or two really doesn’t take much time. Of course, the realtor who’s hosting the open house is hoping that someone will stop by who has a real interest in purchasing a house in the near future. However, lots of people stop by and aren’t interested in buying a home right away, and most realtors are glad to meet these types of people as well. Sometimes people are just starting to think about buying or selling, sometimes people want to see what kind of homes are available in their price range, and sometimes they’re just nosey. But don’t think that open houses are just for people who want to buy a home.
If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next year or so, you should be going to open houses too! Why? So you can see the prices and the features of similar homes in your area. Why? So you’ll have a realistic idea of what your home’s listing price should be. True, any realtor will be glad to do a “Comparative Market Analysis” for you, and suggest a reasonable listing price for you. However, don’t wait until you’re ready to put your home on the market. Start to see for yourself what buyers will be seeing when you do list your house for sale.
After all, everyone who’s buying a home wants to get the “best” house at the “best” price. If a seller is looking to buy a house for about $500,000 he/she will look at several homes to see what $500,000 will buy in a specific town or neighborhood. Although each buyer may have a specific list of “must haves”, each one will be interested in things like the condition and age of the kitchen and bathrooms, the size of the rooms, etc. A buyer isn’t going to buy the first house they see for sale. A buyer isn’t going to pay $500,000 for a home that needs a new kitchen and 2 new bathrooms if he/she can get a similar house in the same area that has been recently renovated and updated.
If you go to one or two open houses every weekend, in 3 or 4 months you’ll have visited one or two dozen homes. At that point, I’ll bet you’ll have a much better picture of the local real estate market than you have right now. Searching on the internet is fine, but we all know that the pictures and the listing description are going to show only the home’s best features. You, on the other hand, need to know both the good and the not-so-good.