So we had our first two…

So we had our first two showings yesterday. It was a little surreal, leaving the house, knowing strangers would be walking through, coming back to find closet doors open and lights turned off that we'd left on. I think I was out of the country when we were selling out last condo, so I missed all of that. It's strange.

I do like hearing back from the realtors with info on how it went. Apparently, the first people liked our place a lot, but just listed their own place and need to sell it first. I checked out their place, and was a little weirded out to see that it's almost identical to ours in finishes and the like -- just a two-bedroom instead of a three-bedroom. Same cherry cabinets, same granite counters, etc. and so on. I guess that's not so surprising, given fads in realty/design, but still a little strange. I'm looking forward to living someplace at least a little different next time around, but I guess some people just figure they know what they like, and want more of it.

The second set liked our place a lot too, but were disappointed that it didn't have a bike room, since they're big into biking around town. Which, admittedly, has frustrated us too -- we talked with the building about putting in a secure bike area when we moved in, but most residents seem to prefer keeping their bikes in their apartments for added security. Ours end up on our balcony, which is a bit of a nuisance, or in the fourth floor hallway, which we're not really supposed to do. I don't know if this is important enough to these buyers to make it a deal-breaker on the place. (I'd kind of think that if it was, they might have asked about that before setting up the showing, but maybe not.) They could also store in the fourth floor foyer, where we currently have a treadmill; that'd be a good place for bikes, not intrusive.

Sadly we're going to have grey, rainy weather for our open house today, which is not ideal. Our place looks so pretty in afternoon sunshine, when the light really makes the Brazilian cherry floors glow. At least the heavy thunderstorms are supposed to hold off until tomorrow, so hopefully it won't be raining enough to keep people home. We're going to drop off Kavi and Ellie at Jarmila's and use this time to look at those houses in Oak Park.

I'm wondering if there's anything else I'm supposed to do for this open house. I'm trying not to get too invested, since evidence seems to suggest that open houses very rarely sell homes. And "a National Association of Realtors study found that their success rate is a mere 2%" (although another article said 7%, so I'm confused). But at the same time, there are questions like this one from a realtor: "Finally, has the advent of the information age (e.g., access to all sorts of property data online) improved your opportunities for actually sales resulting from open houses because more people (Gen Xers and Yers) are doing research themselves and showing up at open houses unrepresented? " Kevin and I are certainly seriously interested in the homes we've been seeing through Oak Park open houses; we're hoping we can buy without using a realtor, so open houses are a huge help to us. They must be to at least some other people too, right? Lovely people who would like to buy our condo!

So, I ought to make an effort, right? Fresh flowers are in all the rooms, although now I'm regretting a bit my choice for the kitchen island -- a very elegant branch of eucalyptus pods, which is looking a little grey now on this day -- wish I had gone with an exuberant bunch of lilacs or cheerful tulips or some such instead. Although the eucalyptus should last for weeks, which is the very sensible reason I picked it. Should I bake cookies? Light candles? Lord knows I have enough tea lights and tea light holders to scatter around the place, but would that actually be a good thing? Set the gas fireplace going? Do I set the dining table? We have a lovely runner on it right now, but I hadn't planned to put out placemats, linens, or tableware.

And then there's emotional staging. How about setting out a bottle of wine and two wineglasses, to suggest to the buyers that if they move in here, they'll get sloshed a lot? Our eight-dollar shiraz should make them feel casually elegant, right? Would our 'Menage a Trois' label be too suggestive? :-) (I actually do like this wine, so if you're not a wine snob, you might want to try it.)

Do I really need to hide the valuables? Not that we have so much of that...

Addendum: E-mailed Mitch to ask about staging questions; he said candles/fire would be nice, and re cookies: "Cookies -- your agent will eat them all, thanks, so make them."

Heh. :-)

5 thoughts on “So we had our first two…”

  1. I admit that I do sometimes go to open houses in my neighborhood just out of curiousity, when I am not looking to buy at all.

  2. I’m toying with the idea of listing my place…The realtor I spoke with told me that she would come in & stage, so I wouldn’t need to worry about remodeling too much. We were sitting in the dining room at my bare, farmhouse table & she looked around and said, “We’ll put a tablecloth here and set the table…”

    And I just thought, eww. I never do that..even for parties. And I can’t see anyone who is drawn to my place being suckered in by a nice tablecloth & some Pier One napkin rings. There’s so much more to it than that.

    My point is, I think you should decorate/stage to attract the kind of buyers you want to draw to the home. I’m a believer in letting energy & attraction do its work, and if you just let it be Mary Anne, Kevin & Kavi’s Casa d’Amour, the right buyers will be drawn in naturally.

    Truly – even if the props are off, and there’s a ring in the toilet. The right buyers will only see one thing: Home.

  3. They say open houses don’t work, but I think they only said that once the markets started booming. If you ask old real estate agents, they may say something different. Certainly in the 80s open houses were seen to make a huge difference.

    Don’t believe the statistics. It’s sort of like looking at the stock market stats for 2003-7 and assuming the market would go up forever. It’s hard to predict the paradigm shift.

    None of which means I believe open houses will sell houses. It just means I believe the stats are likely faulty and hardly anyone remembers anything more than about 3 months ago.

  4. I was a real estate agent. I can tell you the Open House works – for getting the real estate agent more business. As for selling your home, the first few definitely draw the curious neighbors. But the thing is, those curious neighbors have friends and family who may want to live in the same area. What better recommendation than that of people who love the area who are enchanted with your home?!

    As for the cookies, candles and the rest. It is nice to have the smell of fresh baked bread or cookies in a home. But you want to be careful, because if you over cook either just a bit, then your home will smell terrible. The fireplace is a nice touch, but we are going into summer and a fireplace would just make it seem hot mentally. On an overcast day like yesterday, that would have been fine.

    Set the table, don’t set the table. Doesn’t matter. They aren’t coming to eat. It’s more work for you. The thing I have found is that there is a buyer for every home. You truly never know what that buyer will be attracted to. All you can do is put your best foot forward and pray the gods of home selling and mortgage closing smile upon you.

    I once had a house that was painted a nice, neutral taupe outside. The homeowners were so excited about painting it before it went on the market. I showed up and it was…BLUE!! I thought, “Great! They have just screwed me out of selling this house. NO ONE is going to want a blue house!!” Do you know, we were sitting at the closing table when the young wife who bought the home said, “I have always wanted a house with blue trim and a blue door. As soon as we drove up, I knew that was my house.” If that hideous home sold, yours will fly!

  5. Hee–good story re blue house. I’m especially amused because one of the things I liked about the house that I just bought is that it’s blue…. I would’ve liked it even more if it were a brighter blue, but in that neighborhood I’m pretty sure that won’t fly. Anyway, the color of the house wasn’t my main criterion, of course–there were plenty of ordinary neutral houses that I liked fine–but the blue made me like it even more than I otherwise would’ve.

    But I realize that I’m an atypical buyer; I’m posting to corroborate your point (that different people have different tastes), not to contradict you about the general desirability of blueness.

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