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New: Of Sharks, Birds, and Open Houses

Posted on Apr 22, 2007



It’s a beautiful day in Bothell, WA. I could give you the specifics (57 degrees, light breeze, blooms are budding and the birds are chirping), but it’s enough to say that the sun is shining. Any day in the Puget Sound with a shiny orb beaming down on you is a beautiful day – no matter the temperature or wind speed.

For prospective home buyers, it’s a great day to look at open houses. As a Realtor, it’s less than ideal. I think I would rather sit an open in the rain than in the sun, knowing that professional obligations aside, the weather would keep me from doing something more personally fulfilling. I can’t help but feel a little jealous working on a day like today – my clients, meanwhile, are taking their daughter to the park to play while they soak up the sun under the shade of a good book. I’m more envious of those that are chasing a little white ball on manicured greens, and I can’t help but think that many of these Columbia-clad golfers are my peers, who merely chose their 9-iron over sitting an open.

I haven’t noticed that my traffic goes up on nice days anyway. I think that the people that are hungry for a new home are looking no matter the weather – nice weather might only lure away the passive buyer to less socially intimidating options. I was a first-time homebuyer once – and I remember being nosed like chum at every open that I went to. Many buyers share that same feeling, and I still can’t help but see an a-board for an open house and think of it as leading to the feeding pool for the sharks.

I think it’s the memory of that feeling that keeps my inner-shark at bay. I know that many Realtors require visitors to sign a registration before entering the home, or employ any one of a hundred other methods to pry information from visiting buyers in the home to expand their call-list. Not me. The door to my listing is open, the music is playing softly in the background, and I’ll rise when someone enters, offer my name and my help and then tell the buyer to take their time walking throughout the house. Other agents must think I’m crazy, but there’s a rhyme to my reason…

I work today – this glorious, sun-filled day – for the benefit of my seller. Open houses can be (and have been) a wonderful way for me to meet new clients, but ultimately the reason I’m here instead of on the golf course is because of a promise I made to my seller to sell their home. Assaulting buyers at the door doesn’t aid this cause – an obnoxious agent will only rush a prospective buyer toward the nearest exit. I would think that my seller would want them to linger, to find at least a moment’s peace within this structure that they call “home.”

So here I sit. Waiting for the next buyer to come through, when I’ll offer my name and my help and then tell the buyer to take their time. Perhaps because of my silence they’ll hear the birds chirping, notice the blooms budding, and think to themselves what a beautiful day it is – a beautiful day to look at open houses.

P.S. The next potential buyer to come through was a friend of Phil Mickelson’s – scouting for Phil before his visit next week. Come on by Phil, I’d be happy to represent you!

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