We admit we are nosey neighbours when it comes to some open houses in our neighbourhood but for good reason. Yes, we have the “stop the car” moments when the “for sale” sign just happens to show up and we just have to go inside. It’s not often homes in our area go up for sale as we live in an area where people don’t tend to leave.
Most of the homes were built about 15-20 years ago and the area is becoming quite diverse in demographics since we moved in. Back a few years ago most, OK almost all of our neighbours were either a bit older than us or retired seniors. We bought our house from a senior couple who were downsizing their home and moving into a rented condo. Funny how some people go from owning a home to renting a home later in life.
Needless to say, everybody knows everyone in our small neighbourhood which can be a good thing or a one of those situations where you want to go bury your head in the sand. Over the last year or so as the silent and baby boomer generation start to move out we are seeing younger families move in from the Generation x to the Generation Y also known as the (millennial). The prices of homes in our area have gone up exponentially in the last 5 years since we moved in.
That’s no big surprise though in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which is considered the Canadian Mecca for many Canadian citizens, permanent residents and illegal immigrants because this is the area where all the magic happens from manufacturing to finance, fashion to the top Canadian stars and then some.
We are looking at about a $100,000 increase on our home if we were to sell today in just over 4 years of living here but in reality it’s only becomes a number when you actually live in the house.
What are Open Houses?
Open houses are great if you are looking to sell your house quickly as it opens your doors to those who want to buy a house just as fast. An open house is when your Realtor opens the doors to the public for viewing in hopes to make a sale or market an impression on potential buyers.
When we see a “For Sale” sign our nosey neighbour radar goes off and I say that jokingly to have a laugh but it’s more so for our own benefit that we go to an open house. When we are out walking and run into neighbour the chat always seems to centre around the neighbourhood and houses for sale. They are just as nosey as we are, even the men.
What some neighbours secretly talk about to us when a for sale sign goes up in our neighbourhood- Are they getting divorced? Maybe, they got better paying jobs? Are they building? Where are they going? How much are they going to sell it for? You get the picture, although it’s mainly the folks who have been around for many years who talk. We typically don’t give a hoot what the “personal reasons” are about why someone sells, but some do.
I’m betting that almost everyone who lives in a neighbourhood and sees a “For Sale” sign at some point opens the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or the agents listing site to see how much the house is selling for and what it’s got inside. For some the MLS site is like a daily drug because they are constantly looking and comparing homes in their city.
For us, we often wonder what precious gems our neighbours are hiding (walk-in pantry, swimming pool, gourmet kitchen) inside their homes and what they have done to improve their homes. We are nosey by nature plus we want to make sure our biggest investment, “our home” is on track to potentially making us some money down the road when we sell.
Investing in the best home improvements comparable to our neighbours is important so it’s not money wasted on renovations that we could have used elsewhere. The problem is we don’t have a crystal ball when it comes to the housing market so how do you strike a balance. Some people say renovate how you like and spend as much as you want, even if you don’t see the return on investment which is hard for us to do.
We had one of the cities top agents come through our home to give us tips on how to get the most out of our renovations when the time comes that we want to sell. If we are in a house that we know is our final home that would be a different story, but that’s not likely the case at the moment. Nothing screams “buy my home now” then a home that is well maintained, clean and up to date.
As a couple we are far from wanting to keep up with the Joneses but we do like to make sure our home like I mentioned earlier is keeping up with comparable homes in our neighbourhood in line with market value and assessed value . There’s nothing worse than renovating a home and finding out it was a waste of time and money because we over-renovated.
Benefits Of An Open House
- You get to see the property in person
- You can inspect the property up close
- You can meet the listing agent
- You can potentially talk to nosey neighbours
- You can ask questions to the listing agent
- See what you like and don’t like in a home
- Sellers get to hear the positive and negative about their home that potential buyers tell their agent
Are open houses worth it or are they becoming a waste of time? An article I recently read pointed out that the only people through local open houses are local neighbours and the odd potential buyers. Any time we see a house with an “Open House” sign even if it is a brokers open we head on over to take a look, maybe they are right.
A brokers open is where the listing agent holds an open house mainly for other agents in hopes they may have a potential buyer. A friend of ours who is a Realtor says, “hosting an open house is not always an easy task especially when there are many people coming through and you want to make the experience one to remember”.
Realistically, the real estate agent isn’t going to toss out a potential buyer even if they think they are just being a nosey neighbour. We try not to let the agent know we live in the area but if they ask we are honest and tell them exactly why we are there. We roam around the house and I check everything and I mean everything that I can. I’m pretty sure they may think I’m an undercover inspector.
Theft with Open Houses
The down-side to an open house is potential theft when you are not home. Potential thieves would think nothing to go through all your bedroom drawers and personal belongings if no one is watching. I’m sure if you are a homeowner you have been to many open houses in your time. You can safely at some point one or more agents didn’t hold your hand in every room you went in during a walk around the house.
As a homeowner I would be nervous if something was stolen in the house which I’m sure happens every single day. I’d be inclined to install webcams in the house so I can see exactly what is going on. It’s my house after all. Who knows if your ex is wandering through looking for that one item you simply didn’t want to give him or her. I bet I’ve got you thinking now, haven’t I.
As a seller a good real estate agent will walk you through your house and tell you what you should and should not keep out on display. I’m sure they have heard horror stories or have been involved with them at some point in their career.
If you opt to sell privately through a for sale by owner I would at least expect an Open House Check-list to be part of the marketing package you receive to make sure everything that needs to be done, is completed.
Have you ever lost something valuable to theft from an open house you had?
Leaving the Open House
Once we have had our walk around the house and talked to agent we get his/her card and we leave the house. Immediately we start comparing notes. We are like a couple of erratic robots dishing out data…(OK, not really that bad, I’m dramatic)
- Did you see the mould?
- Do you think they got permits?
- The floors were installed incorrectly
- I can’t believe they would do that to the basement
- This house is overpriced
- This house will sell fast
- They replaced the vanities and have heated floors
- Everything is outdated in that house
- That kitchen was amazing, did you see the granite?
- I would love to have a house like this
- In our dreams!
Again, here are two people (us) who want to make sure they are renovating their home in a comparable fashion without breaking the bank. This leads me back to is it worth the time and money for the homeowner and the listing agent to hold an open house? An agent can sit at an open house for hours with no potential buyers walking through with money spent on snacks waiting to make a sale.
Time is money as we all know and it’s the same for the homeowner. The homeowner has to make sure the house is cleaned and in tip-top shape and arrange to be somewhere when the open house is happening. Hopefully not out shopping spending money they didn’t intend to spend in the first place. Crikey, that would make it even worse.
Marketing A Home For Sale
If all agents get is nosey neighbours through the house that have no intentions of buying the home only comparing what they do or don’t have in their own home what is the point? With all the technology we have today buyers can now market a home online so potential buyers can get a realistic 360 degree virtual tour and schedule an appointment if they are serious about buying a home.
Heck, some houses you can pull your car up and tune in to a specific radio channel and listen to all the features the home has to offer. We did that when we were looking to buy a home and it was pretty cool although we felt like a couple of street stalkers. I know that when we put our home on the market we won’t care who comes through it as it’s no longer “our home” it becomes a “house” but we will take all the precautions necessary to protect our valuables.
Some agents or homeowners may think it’s a waste of time but is it really? We went to an open house in our area and we knew a couple who lived out-of-town that was looking for a home over 2000 sq ft with a pool that was well maintained. It’s difficult when you live out-of-town because you don’t want to drive in to look at houses one by one so it helps to have friends or family in the city looking for you.
They wanted to buy in our subdivision as it was a sought after area, close to a school but not near all the craziness of our city which can get pretty hectic. We had a look around the house for them (see we’re not always nosey for own good) and when we got home we called our friends to give them the low down on what we thought. I’m sure that open houses only account for a small percentage of sales in the buying and selling game of homes but it does count for something.
Needless to say the house had a “Sold” sign on it a week later after scheduling an appointment because they liked what we told them about it.
Benefits of an Open House For A Real Estate Agent
Word of mouth marketing is one of the fastest ways to get a message across to people, heck even with this blog. As an agent an open house is your shining moment to network and get to know people who do take an interest in being nosey. It’s not every day you get to talk to potential customers face to face and build a relationship in a mere 10 minutes of conversation while handing out business cards.
It is all about business after all and building your client base. If someone wants to buy our house and is genuinely interested and comes to an open house I’m happy. If someone is being nosey, I really can’t control that short of only accepting appointments risking that I lose a sale by not opening my home to the public, so I focus on the things I can control. I’m betting many agents will say at some point in their career they have met potential clients at an open house or made a sale down the road because of an open house.
So, if you think an open house is a waste of time it’s your call but you never know who will come into your home and how it will benefit you as a homeowner. An open house can either make or break a sale, so for potentially one of the biggest investments of your life, is it worth it to you?
Do you go to open houses when you are not looking to buy?
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Photos Courtesy of : Home for Sale by kjnnt and walking upstairs by Ambro /Freedigitalphotos. net, Outdoor Area by Photostock, INterior design bedroom by nokhoog_buchachon, modern kitchen by Michelle Meiklejohn