real estate feeding frenzy in 5 steps
I edged between a very pregnant woman and her very vocal mother-in-law. Reaching the refrigerator, I extracted my Tupperware container of chocolate-chip cookie dough. Yes, I was baking cookies at a real estate open house. Yes, it is a cliché. But seriously, how many real estate agents have you seen actually baking at an Open House? (I’ll bet zero.) And oh, those fresh-baked cookies are sooo good, with the gooey chocolate…but I digress.
I turned from the refrigerator with the container of cold dough in my hands. As I made my way to my cookie sheets, a hand reached out and grabbed a gob of raw dough. I couldn’t believe it. I paused, a little dumb-struck. In that brief pause, other hands began reaching in and scooping up chunks of dough, dive-bombing the Tupperware still in my hands.
Nobody said: may I please? It was every man and woman for themselves. I didn’t really mind, because the cookies were for them anyway, baked or not. But the psychology of it fascinated me. In what other scenario, if one is a guest in another person’s home, would it be OK to grab raw food from the hand of one’s host?
And here is the crux: they were not guests. They were competitors.
As a Realtor in the ever-changing East Bay market, my own strategies for a highly successful home sale are constantly fine-tuned. What worked well last year will probably not work well today. One must also keep a close eye on one’s neighbors, because the market is a collective organism. Buyers view homes from a comparative perspective. Each home for sale is in direct competition with other homes, while each buyer is competing with other buyers – and the competition can, at times, be fierce.
So how to create an Open House with a “gotta have it” vibe in today’s real estate market?
1. Start with intelligent choices
Make intelligent choices about preparing the home for the East Bay real estate market. First you and your Realtor must assess the overall structural and cosmetic condition of the property. Then you must make key decisions. Certain changes will dramatically increase a home’s emotional and visceral appeal. Other changes, though costly, will result in no net increase in value. It is crucial that you make the right choices to instantly grab and hold a buyer’s attention, without pouring money down the drain.
2. Capture the right visuals
Once we have created the maximum impact for the minimum budget, it is essential to capture the right visuals. As a Realtor, appropriate photographic images allow me to tell the story that we want potential buyers to hear. In today’s East Bay real estate market, buyers form first impressions, and even fall in love, before their first visit. All information your Realtor provides to potential buyers receive will subconsciously color their level of desire. When done correctly, that information will create the appetite necessary for a highly successful outcome.
3. :Position” the home for the local real estate market
Perhaps more important than anything else, you must price the home strategically. In the East Bay real estate market, the asking price and the selling price are two very different animals. As a Realtor, I cannot overemphasize importance of the relationship between the two. To attract a frenzy, you must intelligently and strategically “position” your home. This means making the house the leader of the pack, relative to the asking prices of other homes currently on the market – not relative to selling prices of similar homes. I put much careful thought and expertise into this key step, and my clients are consistently astonished by the results.
4. Spread the word
Your house is the debutante, and the first Open House is the ball. You don’t want to just open the door when the ball begins. You want to invite the kingdom far and wide, and give all suitors a chance to arrive. There is a whole cascade of events that should occur prior to the moment that showings begin, at precisely 2:00 on Sunday. At that moment, if you have prepared correctly, you have a huge pool of eager buyers. These buyers have already reviewed detailed information about your home. They have already decided it’s a great real estate investment. They have already imagined themselves as part of the story. And now, they are ready to fall in love.
5. Create an atmosphere of desirability
You open the floodgates, and the fun begins. Unlike the Open House around the corner, with only a few listless lookers poking around, Buyers pack your house from wall to wall. Every visitor instantly feels an atmosphere of desirability. The mood is vibrant, excited, and let’s face it, a little aggressive. Everybody wants to see everything all at once. One person hears another praise the yard, and suddenly it looks even better. Somebody gasps at the view, and now everybody must have that view. People begin modulating their voices so others won’t hear how excited they are about the kitchen. So people prick up their ears even more. The frenzy begins.
It’s basic human psychology. As a Realtor, I have seen this fact played out countless times: everybody wants what everybody else wants. Seeing other people get excited about something has a strong impact on how we feel it. When we get swept up in the herd, with everybody is stampeding in one direction, we want to stampede too – be it a sale at Filene’s, or a real estate Open House. Once our competitive instincts become aroused, we can’t stop ourselves from joining the fray and fighting for the prize. Even the prize of raw cookie dough.