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VOL. 39 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 2, 2015

Keep an open mind on holding open houses

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As long as there has been residential real estate, there has been the open house debate. Many owners demand them, while others forbid them, detesting the thought of strangers, or even worse, friends, might wander through their homes, rifling through the personal effects of the homeowners while those owners are banished to the Netherlands for two hours.

One thought often perpetrated by Realtors – some of whom might be in search of a holiday – is that serious buyers don’t go to open houses, that the visitors are mainly a joyriding group, some with sinister perversions that will rob the open houses of their souls and their belongings.

These Realtors speak with great disdain of fellow Realtors who see value in the open house.

Another consistent feeling among some homeowners is that Realtors hold houses open as bait so they can add a few bodies into their stable of potential buyers. That could be true in some cases as open hoses allow real estate agents marketing opportunities that rarely exist outside retail.

Being allowed to set up shop in the middle of a residential neighborhood and display their wares, all the while paying no rent, with the possibility that someone could walk through the door and allow the home sitter to make thousands of dollars in the next 60 to 90 days is unparalleled.

Open houses work for various reasons.

One of the most productive uses of an open house is to have the house open the first day it is on the market in order to induce a frenetic, get-it-while-its-hot environment.

For this to work, the houses must be overrun with prospective buyers, all of whom are speaking in codes under their respective breaths to their spouses or house mates while texting their Realtors.

Often this setting will provide a multitude of offers and, hopefully, at least one at asking price or more.

The first-day open house can backfire when the attendance is low and, if the would-be buyer does appear, that person knows there is little interest.

With the current lack of inventory, most open houses are filled with buyers, some of whom dismiss the house within minutes and bolt for greener pastures.

Another open house myth is that they work well in lower-priced homes, but not for those at the upper-end. The feeling is that in the $1 million-plus range, the buyer has enlisted Realtors, and that those Realtors know their buyers, so there is no need to have the open house.

Such was not the case in a $2 million home in Williamson County a few weeks ago when a couple and their three children were having a family outing and drove past the open house.

The husband suggested they stop in, and the wife feared that stopping, unloading three small children and traipsing them through a home loaded with expensive, fragile, colorful, inviting stuff all within reach of the toddlers might fall into the “bad idea” category.

He persisted, and in they went.

An hour and a-half later, they contacted the Realtor who had assisted them in four moves and told her that they found a home they wanted.

Their agent was more of an East Nashville type and could not fathom a move to a different county, but jumped in and represented his clients well. The house sold.

While open houses may be successful, they can be targets for those earlier mentioned sinister types, some of whom are quite skilled in the art of burglary, many of the crooks working in pairs with one distracting the Realtor while the other empties the medicine cabinets and jewelry boxes and, yes, they do know to open the top drawer and look beneath the socks. So, let the sellers beware.

Sale of the Week

The condominiums located at 110 31st Avenue North were dubbed the West End and completed construction in the middle of the Great Recession.

The developer self-financed the project, a half-block from Bricktops on West End, and with no lenders accruing interest and no higher power applying pressure, he was able to hold the prices firm.

At one point, there was an auction, but he would not accept low offers and decided in many cases to hold firm to his price. It worked, and now the owners are reaping some fruit from their investment in his work.

Designed to flow more along traditional lines rather than the newly popularized loft, industrial chic concept, visitors might forget that they are in a condo.

Last week, unit #705 sold for $675,000 with its 1,992 square feet and two bedrooms and two baths. Jane Jackson with Pilkerton Realtors listed the property and her almost in-law Lisa Peebles delivered the buyer.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Paterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@rcihardcourtney.com

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