When I hold an open house, I always try to think of it as a cocktail party with new friends. A party where someone else has already cleaned the house for me and put away all my personal things prior to me arriving—that makes the party awesome from the get go. Really eager Sellers who still occupy a home will go to great lengths to see that every detail has been thought of! They will mow their lawn, pull weeds from and manicure the garden, pressure wash the drive way, take out all the trash, lock up valuables, lock away all medications, lock up any weapons or things that could be used as such, turn off any video filming/camera/monitoring devices, secure animals, and provide any specific instructions for showings/gate or home entry/requests to agent conducting the open house. It’s quite nice to arrive to a home where the owners make it as accommodable and sellable as possible.
If you want to sell, and you don’t clean, declutter, or put forth all efforts stated above, your chances of success have declined dramatically! Isn’t it worth a hard day’s work to get full asking price or at least the highest price possible for your home. Just think of what you could potentially make off that hard day—it could be thousands or tens of thousands! That makes it worth the risk in my opinion. One extremely important rule of thumb for the open house, is that the owners not be present. Potential Buyers must first be able to psychologically move in before they can physically do so. By this, I mean that they must be able to see themselves there. The more staged the home looks without all the “fluff” or personal belongings, the better. It allows a person to place their couch in that living space or their grill on that back deck. When personal photos are hanging throughout, toothbrushes are on the sink, and clothes are lying on the bed, it makes it much more difficult to see this as “your future home.”
And let’s not even get into the difficulties that arise with the owners/seller(s) present. I can tell you from first-hand experience that one does feel a bit rushed, unable to provide accurate/true opinions, and apprehensive to do negotiations with the sellers as to not hurt their feelings. I then questioned, where did they come up with the selling amount? Knowing that Zillow’s zestimate can be (and usually is) very skewed and incorrect from inaccuracies, I look up that amount to see if that’s where they arrived at the value. I then googled the property (and this happened more than once) to find the first link is Remax or realtor.com, and it gives me past sells information on the property which is much less than the current asking price. After that, I would pull up the property appraisers website to see what the last purchase price was and when. After all this information, the asking price for these properties was still not even in the ballpark—by that I mean not even within 10% (nor 20% for that matter). What I found to be true on all of the for sale by owner (FSBO) properties I inquired about, was that they weren’t willing to pay for a real estate agent in representation of the buyer “me” (that could mean I would forego these services as a buyer or pay the agent on my own), the listing prices were vastly over market value, and in 8 out of 10 cases the homes had been purchased during the boom 2006-2010 (where the owners over paid and possibly felt taken advantage of or “worked over” if you will).
You must know that others who had been interested in these same properties had the same or similar findings when searching the addresses. Wanting to feel 100% on the Seller’s side, I made every upgrade adjustment in pricing and even added 10% to the homes for a buffer, but I could not arrive to the same amounts. This does not mean that every FSBO is overpriced, was purchased during that dangerous boom, won’t pay for a Buyer’s representation, etc.; these just happened to be my findings as I was looking to purchase property over the past few months. I have been desperate to move from our three-
story condo/townhome with our two children under the age of four. My main requests have been for one-story (for obvious reasons like child safety and some not so obvious like knee pain) and a nice sized back yard for the kids to play. I would forego one or the other if there was a large benefit such as space, location, or access into the school of choice for my children…I did not begin my home search for research, it just so happened that I was much more aware of my feelings, the things that were happening, and the undeniable truth to most FSBO listings. For some reason, almost all homes I was interested in seemed to be a FSBO and the owners of FSBOs keep coming around me.
For instance, I met a lovely woman this past weekend while garage selling whom had just sold her home on her own, and she’d found a buyer in just weeks. Her home was uniquely large for the area, had a nice yard, and was a custom build that just took your breath away when you entered. Although I was in love with the home, I was quite impressed on how quickly she’d sold and the amount she was paid for it because it was high for that subdivision (and this area in general). This tells me and you that it is possible and these chance meetings of Buyer and Seller do happen to the advantage of perhaps both parties! I was happy to hear of her success, and even hoped for a few pointers as she may be quite the agent in her next life! She may have missed her calling, but she was retiring this fall and moving to help care for her first grandbaby! I love success stories, and I even more than that, I love being a part of that success. I will never know if I could have helped her get more for her home, but it is my assumption (and mine only) that she could’ve made a better profit even after covering my costs because it sold so quickly—that’s a lot for me to assume, so I’ll say I’d hope that I could have.
There are insightful stories on how the CEO of Zillow sold his home for much less than the zestimate, and how the founder of ForSaleByOwner.com used an agent to help sell his home after 6 months of failing from his own attempts and the agent got him substantially more ($150k) than what he was asking! If ever there were two people who wouldn’t want to make these headlines, it would most likely be these people, yet they needed a professional to assist. It goes to show there are certain situations where both sides could come out on top! I support my local FSBO entrepreneurs and I believe in them—they’re in business just like me. They are just trying to make the most of their investment like any smart investor does that has the resources and the time. If they can do it, I’m 100% in support of their efforts! I am all for them getting that sale on their own in the way I’d support anyone I knew in their own financial decisions.
I think the real value from an agent comes from us being an informed, knowledgeable, and ethical liaison between the parties that helps to facilitate a smooth and effortless transaction where both parties feel as though they’re giving up just a little to have a meeting of the minds! This is a business like any other; if you don’t have time or energy to do it, you pay someone to, and that doesn’t mean that the people who can do it on their own aren’t awesome or shouldn’t be supported. Just because I wash my car doesn’t mean that the people who own the carwash can do it better nor does it mean they should not support me in my own decision to wash my car myself, right? Good luck to all of my fellow Sellers out there…truly! And, Namaste…OPN