Market Madness [part 2]: Handling the Hassle of an Open House

Last year, my wife and I put our home up for sale. It was our “five-year house” and we were in year 11, with two growing boys and a dog crammed into a home the size of an average two-bedroom apartment. In part 1 of this series, I detailed how we took our first steps in selling our house.

Market MadnessThe next step was actually showing the house. While we were lucky that most of our showings occurred in good weather during the summer, it was still a tedious process.

First, our agent booked showings as soon as our listing hit the Multiple Listing Service and various real estate agent websites. She told us that we should expect a lot of activity and interest within the first two weeks, and then it dissipates from there, with most of the activity essentially expiring after the sixth week. And boy, was she right.

We had a flurry of showings the first week, seriously testing our ability to keep our home in “showable condition” with a house full of active boys and an excitable dog. One of the keys to success was the decluttering we initially did, effectively removing most of the non-essentials that often make up the normal mess. The other was the 12-hour prior notification rule we established with our agent. That gave us just enough time to prepare our house — and our dog — for guests.

One positive from this whole situation is that while we were cleaning and decluttering, it gave us a great opportunity to create a home inventory of all our stuff, which will be helpful when we update our insurance in our new home.

Individual showings were fine, as we’d make sure to leave the house for 30 minutes or so, giving the potential buyers enough time to look around. But the next step was a bit more difficult: The Open House.

Open House

Our first open house was planned for the second weekend our home was on the market. But more to the point, we ended up doing  five or six open houses during our extended time on the market…that’s where the good fortune of nice weather played an important role.

While leaving your home for two to four hours during an open house is a minor inconvenience, doing it a half-dozen times with two kids and a dog during a busy summer full of sports and activities can be disruptive, to say the least.

It’s a situation many home sellers may run into, and while going to a kid-friendly restaurant or birthday party center isn’t an option with a dog in tow, we came up with a great solution: On most “open house afternoons,” we took the whole family to the local forest preserve park and enjoyed some quality family time in the great outdoors. On rainy days, we kept the dog at home in a secure pet carrier, and took the kids to local museums.

Making the best of what can be a difficult aspect of the selling process can help your family handle an extended selling cycle. I can say with confidence that putting a little thought into the time we needed to be away from home during open houses made all the difference in both our morale and our ability to work through a longer-than-expected selling cycle.

Check out parts 3 and 4 of Market Madness in coming weeks for more insight into selling your home.