With the Open House over, we came back to the house filled with excitement and fear. We wondered how we would be judged.
You know it’s the house they’re looking at, but you feel that it’s you they’re inspecting. You bought the house many years ago because it felt right. As you lived in it and your kids grew up in it, the house became your home. You fixed some things, you took down the old wallpaper, you painted the rooms the colors you wanted, and the kids added their finger marks to the corners that they grabbed on to when they were running through the house.
So to you the house is a comfortable old shoe that fits well. Even though the house has been gussied up, polished, and staged, it is still your home.
So it is with some trepidation that we returned to our “old shoe” house after the Open House had ended. First, we looked at the stack of cards from real estate agents who brought their clients through to check the house out. There was a nice stack, meaning we had a good turnout.
Then we looked at the guest register to check out how many of our neighbors were willing to admit that they had walked through the house. We walked through the houses of our neighbors when their houses were for sale – we expected the same treatment.
Of course, what we were really looking for was a nice signed offer for our asking price, or maybe more. That didn’t happen.
Our agent reassuringly told us we had a great turnout and a lot of interest. This is a standard line real estate agents tell you. It’s something they learned at real estate broker school in the “how to keep your clients from freaking out” class.
So we went back to living in the house, staged as it was. Our broker’s job was now to follow-up with phone calls to other real estate brokers and people that expressed more than a passing interest in the house. She would also field phone calls from agents who visited and wanted to test and see what the “real” price was.
The usual silly offers came in. These are the infamous bottom feeders who would like to get your house for about half its asking price. I guess the thought processes is that if you kiss enough frogs you will find a prince. We turned these offers down with a simple “no thank you.”
Instant Open Houses
The scheduled weekend Open Houses were followed by what we came to call the “instant open house.” These occurred during the week when our agent would call and say, “An agent is bringing their client over in 30 minutes to walk through your house.” That gave us 25 minutes to get dressed, neaten up the house, get in our car, and get the hell out of there.
So, when we got the call, we went into dress and cleanup mode until we got the thing down to a nice 20 minute drill. Being on call for a quick getaway made us live a lot neater because we were always thinking that in the next half-hour a stranger might be at the door.
Sometimes we would go to the park and have an impromptu picnic. Sometimes we would drive around visiting the local sites. There was one trip to the library. And a few trips to local Starbucks where we would slowly suck down a Vente and a snack while checking email.
More open houses
After about the fourth open house we began to reflect back on those silly offers and think that maybe that’s what we were going to end up with. And we began to take it personally – they don’t like our house, they don’t like us, we’re total failures, and we’re going to end up retiring in place.
Then, when there was a flurry of visitors during the week, the roller coaster went up and we started thinking “This is it. This is it.” When no offer came in, the roller coaster went down and we were back to feeling like we would never get out.
The ride ended when, after the fifth open house, and about a dozen instant open houses, two offers came in.