Preparing to Sell


We’ve all heard the rules about what to do and what not to when you’re preparing your house for market and that strange period when you must invite strangers into your (soon to be ex) home to judge it: Put the oven on low and bake some bread (here’s a secret, heating up some supermarket pastries will give you the same effect with half the fuss), put on some coffee, clean away the kids toys and take the dog for a walk.

All of these are completely valid and might be that defining factor that turns your house, into “my house” in the eyes of a buyer.

But what if that doesn’t work? What if you perform all the magic tricks but you still fail to find a buyer? Well you could look across the pond to our American cousins and their rather nifty open house viewing system. This is as simple as it sounds: you work with your estate agent and book out a period of time at your home, two to three hours should be enough. Your agent arranges for potential buyers to visit during this period and then extra staff are laid on to answer buyer’s questions. You could even provide some very light refreshments, all with the express goal of creating a feeding frenzy amongst potential buyers.

It doesn’t sound particularly nice, and for some people it definitely won’t be the right way to conduct your business, but the reality is that you’re trying to sell your home, not find a new best friend, so why not make the incredibly competitive market you’re working in, work for you. Open houses generate real buzz, especially if you’re living in a prestige property. You may well get a couple of curious snoopers, but hopefully your agent will thoroughly vet everyone to winkle out the timewasters. Open house viewings can generate a huge amount of increased interest, often leading to multiple offers, sometimes over the asking price.

For the right house, in the right location, there are an estimated 8 to 10 buyers per property in London. This means you could, potentially, find yourself with a queue of people (and we don’t mean metaphorically) outside your door. Without stating the obvious, this puts you in a very strong position, but it does mean you might have to make some difficult decisions when the offers do start rolling in (and they will).

If you are lucky, and your own plans for moving are going well or are not under strict time constraints, you may have the luxury of choosing who you want to sell to. Do you want a family to move in? Do you want to keep the property from being rented out? Small points and these should definitely not be deciding factors when it finally comes to decision time, but it’s definitely worth thinking about if you choose to hold an open house.

Conversely, Open House viewings are very useful if you’re looking for a quick sale, as they do create competition, and you will likely get several offers at asking price. Just don’t skimp on the coffee or croissants.