While summer is prime season for home sales and listing new inventory, listing a home during the fall and winter has its perks, too. November and December begin the busy holiday shopping season, and, for realtors®, this is the perfect opportunity to host an open house event to attract potential buyers to new listings.
Holiday open house events can embrace the festivities of the season and keep your inventory front and center. However, holiday open house events can be tricky; as a REALTOR®, you never want to isolate any buyers.
If you have a new home you want to showcase from your inventory, here’s how to host the perfect holiday open house and attract the largest audience.
Keep Advertisements Winter Themed (Not Holiday Themed)
When advertising an open house, try to embrace a winter theme instead of leaning into one specific holiday. Think snowmen, bells, and other inclusive details. You want all potential buyers to feel welcome and invited.
Make the House Smell Amazing
All realtors® know the power of scents…especially sweet scents! Baked goods like holiday cookies create sensational smells, and buyers may remember a house because of the amazing aroma. Encourage sellers to bake cookies on the day of your open house. This doesn’t mean they need to whip up dozens of gingerbread men or chocolate chip cookies; one dozen will do just fine!
If your client doesn’t have time to bake up some sweet smells, fake like they’ve baked! You can purchase scented oils or scented gels that smell like vanilla cookies, cinnamon rolls or other baked delights. Bring one (or two) and place them in key areas of the home. Like the corner of a kitchen.
Think Cozy and Comforting
REALTOR® Magazine recommends nudging up the heat a bit during an open house. Don’t create a subtropical climate, but just try to keep the house a bit warmer. After the event, remember to re-adjust the temperature so your client doesn’t waste electricity!
If the home you’re showing has a fireplace, should you use it during the event? With an enclosed gas fireplace, that could be an option; however, this is something you should discuss with your client. Some homeowners NEVER use the fireplace—it may be just something they love for looks. Log-burning fireplaces–even those with a fireplace gas insert–shouldn’t be used during an open house, though.
For the safest way to set the mood, turn the television to a taped image of a warm cozy fire.
Be Prepared for Bad Weather
Winter weather can strike at any time, and certain places of the country are more prone to the perils of Jack Frost. Before you schedule an open house during the holiday season, REALTOR® Magazine recommends checking the forecast first! What happens if weather turns and your open house day is about to be iced out? If you need to reschedule, be sure to note this on listings and make potential buyers aware of the new date as soon as possible.
When you’re actually sitting at the event and the weather gets bad, don’t feel that you need to put your own safety at risk. If you’re afraid that staying the full time will make your own trip home a danger, notify your clients immediately.
If you’re hosting an open house during really cold temperatures or bad weather, always make sure that walkways and driveways are treated with salt and free of snow and ice. The safety of everyone is the most important priority. Your client doesn’t want a homeowner’s claim because of an open house injury!
Embrace the Daylight
Winter means darker days and an earlier sunset. Don’t schedule open house events too late during the holiday season. Buyers want to see the home, and a later showing means less daylight for potential buyers to view the outside areas clearly.
Ideally, 4 p.m. would be the perfect ending point during winter dreary days. This is right before dinner, and about an hour before the sun drops down completely.
Avoid the Actual Holidays
While it might seem obvious, don’t schedule an open house on a holiday or too close to a major holiday. You likely will not see many faces on a New Year’s Eve open house or the day before Thanksgiving (or on Black Friday). Your clients won’t want you ushering them out the door when they may be prepping for family and the holiday.
Even if your buyers aren’t celebrating a particular holiday, others will be celebrating! Keep that in mind when you set the date.
Don’t Serve Refreshments
Yes, the holidays may seem like the perfect time to offer up some cookies or cider or other festive food and drinks. This isn’t a party, though. Plus, spills and crumbs will ruin the look of that perfectly staged home. Offer up smells and the thoughts of wonderful baked delights, but don’t actually serve them!
Encourage Clients to Remove Holiday Photos
One of the most well-known rules for staging a home for sale is to remove personal photos. Why? Prospective buyers need to envision living in the home; photos may leave them with the memory of the family who already owns the home. Encourage clients to remove family photos.
What about photo holiday cards received from friends? Many families hang holiday cards during the season, but these may distract buyers, too. Ideally, all personal photos should be removed during showings and open house events.
Tell Clients to Say “No” to Large Outdoor Décor
Prospective buyers want to see a yard and the home space clearly. Some homeowners love huge blow-up holiday décor; large snow globes, Santa or a big snowman may take up the yard. These items should be removed before showings or an open house event, however. Again, prospective buyers need to envision living in the home, and they need to be able to see the outdoor spaces.
The holidays are a bustle of activity; lots of shopping and errands mean many prospective buyers will be out and about. Embrace the holidays and schedule an open house event in November and December; however, just be sure to check the weather and schedule the event to end before the sun goes down. Set the holiday mood with a cozy environment (make that home a little bit warmer by nudging the thermostat) and infuse the home with sweet smells. Encourage clients to remove any over-the-top yard décor that may detract from the curb appeal and to take down any personal photos. Buyers should be able to envision their future in the home, and it’s your job to leave them with the feeling that this home is their perfect home for the holidays.