Buying or selling a property? Then be more open

Local agent champions American style viewings in Chiswick

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Open minded - Mark Bury of Bellengers Estate Agents

Next Bellengers open house Three bedroom flat, Kingswood Rd, W4, Saturday 25th February 11.00 am to 1.00 pm and Tuesday 28th February 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm


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Sell your property by appointment only? Not any more. Chiswick home owners are hoping for speedier sales by letting buyers wander through during evening and weekend open house sessions. Instead of taking random appointments during the week, sellers open their homes for viewings for an allotted time.

This practice combines out-of hours working with the American-style system of viewings. In California, for example, it's almost a religion. This secular form of worship takes place every Sunday in neighbourhoods all over Los Angeles, even at the ‘rich and famous’ end of the market.

This latest import has arrived in Chiswick and open-house viewings are becoming popular with both buyers and sellers. It makes good sense to locals, who often work long hours and can't spare the time during the week. Everyone benefits as it generates potential business for an agent and a sense of excitement about a property.

Two to four negotiators run the open day depending on the size of the property according to Mark Bury of Bellengers. “People don’t just saunter in off the street. Viewers are qualified first so there is some control. We held an open day recently in a five-bedroom property in Bath Road. There were four members of staff: one on registration, one showing the ground floor, one upstairs and one in the garden. We did get offers on the day and lots of interest was generated which subsequently resulted in a sale.”

An open day is a great introduction to the market and can lead to a faster sale said Mark. ‘Even if people are thinking of making an offer they don’t tend to do this straight away. It’s more likely that they’ll go away and think about it and make an offer after the second or even third viewing.’

Neighbours are also often invited to view. You do get inquisitive people mingling with serious buyers, but many also spread the word to friends, who want to move into Chiswick to live near one of the good local schools.

Open house is good news for vendors who don’t have the time to blitz the kitchen, tidy the clutter or hide the laundry before individual viewings scattered throughout the week. It can be very stressful for busy professionals and parents to keep the house shipshape. It’s much easier for owners to arrange one good spring clean so their property stays pristine and is seen in its best light.

Bellengers operates an open-house policy with regard to other estate agents as well. ‘I’ve offered other agents the opportunity to show their clients around during our open days for a share in the commission. It’s got to be good news for all concerned if it helps to speed up the sale,’ says Mark.

An open house may also lead to a sale from an unexpected source. Potential buyers can fall in love with a house even though it's not what they think they want. They react emotionally and whatever they thought they wanted goes out the window. And the only way to get someone emotionally involved is to get them inside the property.

In a process universally known to be almost as stressful as bereavement, the open-house system, seems to offer all parties the least amount of aggravation. It’s also the best option for people who can’t come during normal working hours. After all, to make the kind of money you need to buy a property in Chiswick, you have to work most of the time - right?

Annie Garfoot

February 21, 2006