Sellers don’t have to let open houses daunt them

Some houses — you know, b-i-g houses — rarely are open. (Tim Pearce took this flickr photo at Alcatraz.)

Thanks to TV reality shows, some sellers may well be daunted by new takes on open houses.

That needn’t be the case.

The first thing that sellers must keep in mind is that they must not be present at an open house.

Not only does their presence tend to intimidate buyers into keeping closet doors shut, it also tends to cause mouths to shut as well.  Buyers at open houses don’t get to think out loud with a seller in their orbit, notes San Francisco broker Tara-Nicholle Nelson in one of her characteristically good posts on Trulia’s site.

Other of her tips include the following: Continue reading

The High Road: Welcome mat is not for everyone

“Hey, Sophie, it’s Sunday.  Let’s check out some open houses.”

A proposal to warm a listing broker’s heart, but that’s not where the dialog ends among members of a family:

“But what shall we do with Kimberly, Jessica and Adam?  Mom and Dad have matinée tickets to see Newsies today.”

“Well, we’ll bring them along.  And, wait, doesn’t puppy need her meds at 1 again.  It would be bad to miss a dose, I think.”

“I’ll get her leash, and we’ll take care of that on the run.” Continue reading

Out and About: Agent and seller at odds

A well-lighted cave is still a cave. (flickr photo by d'n'c)

Note: After my short break, normal frequency of posts resumes next week.

The agent grimaced when I asked at an open house how long her listing had been on the market.

“Forever,” was her one-word reply.

Checking out the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo in Morningside Heights, I was underwhelmed by the $1,616-sf duplex.  My chief objection: The lower floor is in the building’s basement down an exceedingly narrow flight of stairs.

To her credit, the listing broker in describing that subterranean space did not glorify it as anything more than a playroom, media room or perhaps gym.

The half bath is down there, and the light from window wells is negligible.  It is a cave.

As for the rest of the apartment, Continue reading

The High Road: Some brokers are . . . thieves

A broker who is a friend of mine recently recounted an anecdote that I can only hope is apocryphal.  But I believe it to be true.

He said he’s learned that some brokers are stealing names.

Those are the brokers who attend open houses, slyly snapping cellphone photos of sign-in sheets and then getting in touch with those visitors who don’t put down the name of their own broker.

Their desperate action is despicable, certainly unethical and arguably in violation of strictures against interfering with the business of another broker.

If you are a consumer, Continue reading

When you open your house, you open your life

Nick "Slueras" "Fleuras" Flueras got caught. Your thief probably will not. (Flickr photo by angus mcdiarmid)

The conventional wisdom has been that open houses work better for the listing agent than for the seller.  It’s a way to capture buyers for other properties, goes the thinking.

In Manhattan, however, open houses often provide an unencumbered path to an offer that leads to a contract.  Sometimes they benefit the listing agent either for the foregoing reason or because the agent snares a direct transaction–one in which the buyer is unrepresented and the agent can collect up to twice the commission otherwise earned.

An unexpected beneficiary could well be a thief dressed in buyer’s clothing.

Brokers tend to be pretty good about warning their sellers about the need to hide expensive items such as jewelry.  Some are less diligent than others.  Moreover, no one or two agents can be everywhere in an open house all the time. Continue reading

How an open house differs from an appointment

At an open house, buyers come and go at their pleasure.

They’ll sign their names and contact information on a sheet.  Sometimes, what they write actually is legible and even factual.  Often not.

To the broker holding the open house, that sheet is somewhat less important than the possibility of turning one of those buyers into his or her buyer of either that property or another one.  When the possibility is great, the information is verified and the broker gives chase by phone and e-mail.

(If the broker manages to sell the property to such a buyer, the commission is doubled, and the opportunity to engage in a conflict of interest is created.)

Fair enough. Continue reading