Wednesday, December 14, 2016

7 Tips for Holding an Open House During the Holidays

Many people think that winter isn’t the ideal time to put your Lexington home on the market. What can you do to make your wintertime open houses appealing amongst the holiday parties and events?
Here are 7 tips for holding an open house during the holidays.
1. Market early, market broadly, market creatively
Remember that the people who venture out in the wintertime might be the most serious buyers of all, so you should be extra-prepared to host a stellar open house. Start event marketing as soon as possible, and be sure to feature it in your blog and social media messages. If there’s a nearby holiday fair or festival, put up your signs in that area to attract even more attendees
You never know where a buyer can come from, so think creatively. Why not invite the neighbors into the home an hour early for a sneak preview and turn it into a holiday block party? Let them have a look around; maybe they’ll pass the word along to family and friends. You never know: People often host out-of-town relatives during the holidays, and perhaps some of them are interested in moving closer to family. If a buyer is relocating, they might be already planning a trip to your area, so make sure you post your open house information to as many online outlets as possible.
2. Stay safe outside…
Keeping the driveway, curbs and walkways clear of snow and ice is not only a safety tip, it makes the home approachable and inviting. Solar lights along the walkways illuminate the path for visitors, and a layer of sand keeps attendees safe when the walkways ice over. Knock any icicles off the overhangs and brush off any precarious clumps of snow that could fall on an unwitting buyer. Set a timer on the porch light to ensure that buyers can easily spot the house number. On the porch, provide a welcome mat for wet or muddy feet, along with a floor runner and coat rack in the entryway, to help keep the floors clean and dry.
3. …And inside
Although beautifully wrapped gifts and collectible seasonal decorations can create a festive ambiance, these items are prizes for sticky-fingered baddies who sometimes target open houses. Keep all valuables out of sight, including jewelry and prescription drugs. If you decide to have seasonal items as part of the décor, wrap empty cardboard boxes and use mass-market decorations as decoys — but keep it tasteful; you want buyers to focus on the features, not the festivities.
4. Update the exterior
The dead of winter is no time to paint the exterior of a home, but you can still make some off-season updates in preparation for your open house. Wash the paint or siding with warm soapy water to immediately spruce up the outside. Polish the windows to keep them bright and clean, and allow more natural light to shine through.
Prune the shrubbery and trim any tree branches that might be laden with snow. Not only does it make the home look maintained, it’s a safety measure against potential damage caused by limbs cracking under the weight.
5. Incorporate minimal seasonal décor
While most people will not be offended by seasonal décor, there’s sense in not going overboard with it: Less décor can be more elegant, doesn’t distract buyers from seeing the real features of the home, and is easier to clean up after the holidays. A tasteful evergreen wreath on the front door adds style, and a few white lights inside the home offer simple, but classic sophistication. Remember the shrubbery trimmings? Repurpose some of it as décor by arranging it in urns on the porch.
6. Keep it cozy and inviting
Vacant or not, it’s a good idea to keep the thermostat set at a comfortable heating level. Buyers aren’t likely to look around very long if the home is freezing; plus, you don’t want them wondering if there’s a problem with the heating system.
A plate of cookies and mugs of hot cider or cocoa are great incentives for buyers to stay and explore the home. Twilight comes sooner in the winter, so leverage as much natural lighting as possible by opening the curtains for daylight events. For security and curb appeal, use timers on the inside lamps. A crackling fire and candles also help to light up the home and add warmth.
Keeps scents to a minimum and stick with one; having pine, gingerbread, peppermint and vanilla scents battling each other can be overwhelming and might make visitors think you are trying to cover up bad odors.
7. Timing
You and your agent have to work around each other’s schedules, and it might be extra challenging during the holidays when weekends can be jam-packed with get-togethers. Holding an open house at a time other than a late weekend afternoon might better accommodate everyone and attract more traffic. Consider a weekday evening — perhaps catching the attention of commuters heading home. If you decide to keep your open house on the weekend, earlier in the day — when you can take advantage of natural light — is better. Try a Saturday morning and offer brunch snacks and have cartoons playing for the kids. Another idea is to hold it during a football game and give the event a tailgate party theme.

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