Open Says Me

I hadn’t worked a “real” weekend open house for a while, so last Saturday, I decided to inaugurate a nice new listing and what I’ll call a  hopeful, New Year, by going “retro” with what has always been a traditional staple of real estate marketing.

I hope my open house was as entertaining for those of you who visited, as it was for me.  I had a great time. Some part of me had forgotten how interesting it is to publish an ad, put up a sign, open the door and just see who decides to wander through on that particular day.

For me it’s like throwing the yarrow stalks and reading the I Ching. Is who comes through really coincidental? Are there deeper meanings that can be drawn from these chance meetings?

What are people looking for? What do they have to say? What are their stories?  What kinds of questions do they ask? What does their presence say about the larger marketplace we live in? It doesn’t really matter if they are actual buyers, part of the entourage of family experts that often accompanies, just curious neighbors or dedicated lookie loos indulging their hobby and/or feeding their jones.

As it usually is with the universe:  When you put something out there you almost always get something back – if you pay attention in the way the Buddhists call ‘beginners mind.’

Call me old-fashioned or maybe just old and out of touch,  I think there’s still room for a kinder, gentler version of the weekend open house.  You know, something much more relaxed, gracious and conversational in tone than those all-out frontal assaults we sometimes get blasted with by over-hyped Agents.

I say “we”, because I  make a point of going to open houses whenever I am out of town. far enough away, so that I can be incognito and experience real estate from as much of a non-Agent’s perspective as possible. Nothing better for honing your craft and hopefully becoming a better human being than making a conscious effort to put yourself in other people’s shoes.

Open houses don’t have to be all about “picking up buyers” as though they were invitations to a happy hour singles bar,  strangers looking for other strangers to entice and shack up with in the purchase of a new home.  Open houses don’t have to be about cornering people for their names and addresses so that they can become part of an ever-expanding empire of spam.  And of course, it isn’t really necessary to follow folks from room to room, pointing out the painfully obvious while callously pushing past the delicate boundaries of their personal comfort zones.

The more you talk, the less they grok  (google it, younger readers) about the essence of the property in question.  The larger you loom, the smaller those rooms get. The more invasive your shadow, the less light there is that seems to filter in through the skylights and those nice big bay windows that are beckoning.

Open houses don’t need to serve lavish spreads of gourmet food or drink.  They don’t have to emulate bingo night and offer free raffle tickets and trips to Hawaii.  Forget the guys in the clown suits waving signs. Leave the helium balloons back at the office.  We don’t all have to be filling the funnel and selling the sell every second of every day.

Open houses can simply be open.  Open for the experience of the house. Open to whomever comes through.  Open to whatever connections get exchanged. Shallower. Deeper.  It’s all good.

In the end, whether Sellers of properties truly understand it or not…homes have to sell themselves. Agents can market them, but they can’t sell them to people who don’t really want to buy them.

There may always be a mythical notion, woven into the culture, that sees the real estate agent as a used-car salesman. The fear that somehow, he/she is going to talk an unsuspecting buyer into an $800,000 Toyota Camry they didn’t plan on driving off the lot. In some ways I’d love to be able to say that I have enough Svengali-like mojo stored up from years of success, to hypnotize a stranger into dropping some really, really serious cash on something that doesn’t speak to them on a much deeper level.  But it ain’t so Joe. It just ain’t so.

If any of you want to come by and join me this weekend,  I’m open for it again.  Click here and get the scoop.


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