Mike Hartshorne of DFH Real Estate Ltd. said open houses can offer a level of convenience for both sellers and buyers that private showings may not.

HOMEFINDER: Open houses offer flexibility for buyers and sellers

You never know who might fall in love with your home

Sometimes it can be tough to attract potential buyers and separate your home from numerous other listings.

A common tool realtors and sellers choose to show their home to potential buyers is an open house. This tool may not be for everyone, says Mike Hartshorne of DFH Real Estate says, but it’s definitely a marketing strategy about which sellers and their agents should have a conversation.

Where private showings are limited to one potential buyer at a time, open houses can be helpful in generating a lot of traffic through a home that is new on the market.

This can make them more convenient for potential buyers who may have trouble scheduling private viewings or just want to browse on their day off.

Buying a home “can be very busy and stressful in a hot market,” Hartshorne said, adding open houses can help take some of that stress away.

They can also be more convenient for sellers, as they are usually scheduled with several days’ notice, giving homeowners more time to prepare and make sure their home looks its best.

Often, he said, private showings are booked with little warning, making it hard for homeowners to be prepared.

Since open houses are usually scheduled for two to three hours at a time, they can also offer more flexibility, especially for buyers who have a busy schedule of private showings.

“If you’re running out of time, you may just skip something,” Hartshorne said. But for open homes, “if you’re 15 minutes earlier or later, it’s not a big deal,” making them easier to get to.

However, of that traffic generated by open houses, many visitors may not be as interested as someone who has booked a private showing.

“Some people feel it’s just neighbours or looky-loos,” he said. “You can’t really qualify them.”

Although, you never know if one of those looky-loos might fall in love with your home.

“You can get drop-ins who didn’t know they were looking,” Hartshorne said, noting he’s even sold several homes to people who had no intention of looking or buying and just dropped in on a whim.

With the mild climate on the West Shore and the rest of Greater Victoria helping to avoid the peaks and valleys in the real estate market experienced by other areas, Hartshorne said open houses usually run all year round.

Although, he said during busy holiday seasons or if the weather is uncharacteristically bad, there may not be as many. He expects a number to pop up in the spring.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: How do I make my open house more enticing for potential buyers?

Making sure potential buyers earmark attending your open house, on top of the numerous other options they might have on the go in a given day, can be a challenge.

Mike Hartshorne of DFH Real Estate said “the general impression of the home should be (that) it’s clean, in good repair and perhaps smelling nice.”

Homeowners should go through a little more effort to declutter than they would for a private showing. Sometimes putting away everyday items, such as those normally left on a kitchen counter, can go a long way toward making a home feel more open and spacious. He suggested putting away coffee makers, mixers and other appliances that may not normally go in a cupboard, to help make counter tops seem more spacious.

“By not having too many things on display, it helps them envision their belongings,” he said.

As for first impressions, he added, the front door should not show any visible signs of wear. “I always like to have something by the door.” Having a plant, flower, or enticing piece of art near a doorway can be a good idea, as often crowds can linger by the doorway when an open house is busy.

One last tip for sellers is to protect items that may be special to them. “It’s never recommended you leave valuables in plain sight,” Hartshorne said, recommending to safely store any items with monetary or sentimental value.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE Feb. 1/16  COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 539 / 351 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL,  January 2015

» 934 / 1,027 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL,  January 2015

» 2,471 / 3,283 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, January 2015

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