Members of Minnesota Realtors dish about what really happens at open houses and if buyers are out of touch with reality, thanks to HGTV.
What are the top three things buyers are looking for in a house right now?
It really is about location, location, location. Affordability and move-in ready homes are close behind.
Open houses can show the true colors of people. Are Minnesotans well-behaved?
Generally speaking, yes. In this world of home cameras and security, people are cautious about what they say in and about someone else’s home. Some actually ring the doorbell and wait for you to answer or turn off the lights by habit.
No, really. What are some not-so-Minnesota nice things people have done?
Making a mess of the bathroom and letting children run wild — some have children who must jump on furniture or pick up breakable things — are the main infractions. And not taking their shoes off at the door. Sellers are warned to not leave sentimental things out that fit easily into pockets or purses, but sometimes things still go missing. And please don’t bring your pet.
Is it worth it to have an open house, or is it mostly nosy neighbors going through?
Most Realtors say a resounding yes. Having an open house pushes your listing to the top of the search results on the major real estate websites and also helps motivate buyers who may be on the fence about writing an offer because they are worried they might miss out. Many experienced agents will tell their sellers that homes do not sell at opens. Some have found that not to be true, especially if the home has something very special about it or is one of a kind. True, there are a lot of tire kickers and neighbors, but it is an important part of the marketing.
Are buyers more demanding (or less realistic) in the HGTV era?
Yes. A recent National Association of Realtors statistic says 70% of buyers are disappointed that the homes they viewed “didn’t look like the ones on TV.”
But most are aware that the local market is different and are open to listening and learning.
What are some of the more outlandish demands from buyers you’ve had?
There are buyers who expect the house to be perfect, even replacing trim boards if just a small piece is missing. Or the ones who expected to get 20% off a new listing in a market where homes were attracting multiple offers and often going for above list. Once, a finished basement wall had a small bulge in it and the buyers demanded the seller tear open the wall to see why (the sellers did not agree). And several ask for the sellers’ personal property to be included in the purchase — even priceless heirlooms and antiques.
Moving on to sellers, have you ever walked into a house and said: “I can’t sell this?”
Every home will sell at the right price. Sometimes you have to find out what that price actually is or be patient for the correct buyer. However there have been plenty of times where a Realtor has thought, “this is going to be a challenge.”
From that nude painting to impossible personalities, are there any deal breakers when selling a house?
Unrealistic buyers and sellers are the common thread. Or a truly unmotivated seller. Declining showings, or making a home present poorly, are great ways to prevent buyers from taking interest in a home. But one Realtor had people walk away because of animal heads on the walls.
We’ve heard of houses with some “interesting” features. What are some of the strangest you’ve seen?
For one Realtor it would definitely be the stripper pole and swing. And one house left an alligator in the bathtub during a showing.
Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies sway buyers, or is that an old wives’ tale?
Buying still has an emotional element to it. Sometimes smells can be a positive experience that puts people at ease. Air fresheners, on the other hand, can be problematic and turn away people with allergies. But all agree: the agents certainly don’t mind the treats.
Answers by Jason Miller, Premier Real Estate Services, St. Cloud; Amy Peterson, Edina Realty, Coon Rapids; Dan Wagner, Coldwell Banker Burnet, Rochester; Brandon Doyle, Re/Max Results, Maple Grove; LeRoy Bendickson, Edina Realty, Mahtomedi; Bob Clark, Lynskey & Clark, Stillwater; Denise Mazone, Mazone Real Estate Group, Golden Valley; Pat Paulson, EXIT Realty Metro, Minneapolis; Todd Walker, Coldwell Banker Burnett, Eden Prairie. Answers edited for space and clarity.