Yes to Year-End Open Houses
Common sense might dictate that a broker should never host an open house near year-end holidays like Christmas and New Year’s. People are too swept up with family gatherings and celebrations to spend an afternoon visiting prospective homes, right? Sarah Chamberlin, a real estate agent with Halstead Brooklyn, begs to disagree. “People still visit open houses, but it’s a different buyer profile than at other times of the year. Buyers around the holidays are often motivated by life-changing events. Maybe a new job requires a residential move, or a couple finds out that baby will make three and there’s insufficient room in their studio apartment, or a parent’s medical issue may prompt a change in residence. Granted, an open house around the holidays may garner slow traffic, but you don’t get the ‘open-house tour people.’ You get motivated buyers prepared to act.”
As the days lengthen and the weather warms, it may be time to move an open house into the early evening. “There’s no better way to showcase a home with a good view and deck than at sunset over cocktails,” says Chamberlin. Prosecco and cheese can add a nice international flair.
Mother’s Day & Father’s Day
Perhaps defying logic, open houses on these two Sundays are often very successful in drawing traffic. Prospective buyers will often show up with their parents in tow. After all, what grown adult wouldn’t appreciate feedback and/or buy-in from mom or dad? The key is to time open houses in the late afternoon, after the 12-3 p.m. parents’ brunch/lunch slot.
Dog Days of Summer
The heat of July and August may draw many would-be buyers to the beaches instead of open houses, but sometimes the residential real estate market is nearly as hot as the temperatures. Such was the case in the last few years (albeit some slight cooling off this past summer). What that meant is that buyers who might have lost out in several prior bidding wars, see less competition in these slower months, and seize the opportunity to search and nail down their dream home.
“Autumn is a great time to host a themed open house,” says Gerard Splendore, an agent with Halstead Brooklyn who likes using a Halloween theme. “It doesn’t offend anyone’s sensibilities, as might a Christmas-themed open house.” He’s been known to deck out open houses with pumpkins serving as vases for floral arrangements. He complements that decor with yellow and rust chrysanthemums, bowls of apples, and the requisite dishes of candy. The candy that disappears quickest at the open houses? Foil-wrapped chocolate balls that resemble bloody eyeballs. Gerard has also been asked at his Halloween-themed soirees why he’s not in costume. His reply: “I came as a real estate agent.”