Today is the Ultimate Open House event in Dayton. What does that mean? Basically it means that the Dayton Area Board of REALTOR®s is participating in the NAR Nationwide Open House Day, in which REALTOR®s are encouraged to hold their listings open. As a guest, if you go to an open house, you have the opportunity to sign up for a drawing for gift certificates from Lowe’s. As a buyer, there are a few things to keep in mind when looking at open houses- dual agency, for example- and you can read about those issues, here, but mostly open houses are an opportunity for buyers to take a leisurely stroll through a property that they’ve always wanted to look through. Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Sunday, if you love to look at homes. You can search the MLS for Open Houses in Dayton, today and on any given Sunday, right here. But this real estate column is about stories, so I thought I’d share a few quick and funny open house stories.
Realtors are taught about open houses and how to woo buyers, and what to say, and there are many philosophies about working or not working open houses. I really enjoy open houses, they are fun for me as I really enjoy talking houses, but they don’t all go as planned. One of my first opens was in a small brick ranch home. I did everything I was told to do- invitations to the neighbors, mailed fliers to potential buyer markets, did a little staging, brought cookies… Yes, we are encouraged to bring refreshments to feed our guests. I brought those iced soft cookies you can buy at Kroger- you know the kind? They are so festive, aren’t they? I set them out on a decorative plate in the kitchen and they looked nice. The house looked great, but I was nervous. The first two guests politely declined the cookies, although they liked the house well enough. Then a family came through. Mom, Dad, and two kids about 8 and 5. The children keyed in on the cookies right away and whispered to their parents. Mom and Dad were busy, distracted, looking at the floor plan, but they asked me and of course, the kids could have cookies! That’s what they are there for.
The family wondered off through the home, the kids picked out their bedrooms, as all kids do, we said polite things to each other and they left. A few more lookers came through and I hit a lull in the activity. I wandered back through the home, checking to see that everything was still in order and that’s when I noticed the floor. A little Hansel and Gretel trail of cookie crumbs and crushed icing bits was evidence that someone was enjoying my refreshments. I followed that trail back to the kitchen for paper towels to clean up the mess, and that’s when I saw the true recipients of my carefully planned hospitality. Ants. A small army of ants had descended on the kitchen floor. Irregardless of my plans for the house that day, the ants were determined to feast. I spent the rest of my free time at that open house on my hands and knees cleaning the most minuscule cookie crumbs out of carpet, and wiping the kitchen floor between guests. That was the first and last time I served crumbly cookies at an open house.
At another open house, the family prepared the home beautifully- freshly mowed lawn, lovely colorful flowers in pots by the front door. They even watered the grass to make it glisten, then they left. I arrived, opened the lock box and tried the key. It didn’t work. This in not so unusual really. Many keys have to be jiggled and wiggled and finessed to coax the lock to release, but no amount of working and reworking could open that front door. Let’s try the back door? Nope. Now it was close to the start time, and I needed to get into that home. It was a lovely fall day, so the owners had left the kitchen window opened. I don’t want to put this image in your head, but yes, I was a middle-age woman in a skirt and heels, using a lawn chair to climb up, pop the screen and clamber through the kitchen window. A childhood spent as a tomboy saves the day!
Next time you are at an open house, be nice to the agent. Who knows what lengths they’ve gone through to get there?
Photo credit: Teri Lussier, used by permission.