“Open days can be very useful, however they are something that we do not see as much of in central London.” says Jamie Hope, Director at Maskells Estate Agents. “It is hard to vet buyers and with many of our clients having extremely valuable contents, they are understandably nervous about having simply anyone walk through their house.
At Maskells we do however operate a system of ‘property launches’ in central London which can produce a lot of interest. Buying agents often represent the best buyers in the prime market. As such when a landmark property is coming to the market or being sold away from the open market, we will offer prominent buying agents the opportunity to view the house, often with caterers being involved so that they will come en masse and see the house, spend time in the property to get to know it in order to report back to their clients. We know all the key buying agents meaning that this has huge value to our clients selling property as quite often, the best buyers will emerge often before the property reaches the open market.”
James Robinson, General Manager at Lurot Brand says that “Viewing days only work if the agent gets them right and knows to watch out for the scammers”
Here are James Robinson’s pros and cons of viewing days:
- All the buyers get to see the property otherwise, if it is a good and well-priced house, it will more often than not be snapped up by the first buyer to offer the asking price (making the vendor feel the agent has under-priced their house).
- All the offers come in at the same time so the vendor can compare each buyer’s financial situation, offer level and timescale which suits them.
- If there are similar bids there is a strong chance that the competition will drive the selling price up by going to best and final offers etc.
- Having agreed an offer the timescale to exchange can be kept to a minimum by using the under-bidders as pressure to reach a fast, and legally binding, exchange of contracts.
- Orchestrated well this is the best strategy to achieve a rapid sale at the highest price in any market.
- Getting the pricing wrong can be catastrophic. It needs to be attractively low but not so low that it doesn’t show in the internet searches of the buyers you actually want.
- If the asking price is too high no one will turn up for the viewing day as they will see from the particulars it is too expensive.
- A failed viewing day can taint future marketing.
- Ringing. If the agent is inexperienced or naïve the property can end up being ‘ringed’. This is where a professional buyer submits a succession of very high offers, using different named buyers to blow out the other bidders. The highest offer will be massively high and will win the contract for the crook who then drags out the buying process until all the other buyers have moved on or bought elsewhere. He then reduces his offer on the day of exchange (gazundering) stating that the survey was bad or that the property was down valued by the surveyor. Believing that he has other buyers the agent declines this ‘low’ offer and moves onto the next highest bidder and the same thing happens again and again. An inexperienced agent wont twig that all the high offers have been submitted by a group of buyers who are in cahoots and finally advises the seller that this is obviously the true market level. This wheeze removes all the other buyers from the negotiations and allows the house to be bought well below the market value. This scam rarely goes detected.”
Rory McGougan, Director at Hanover Private Office comments the the positives include in a bull market are that “open days can provide a well-managed opportunity for numerous parties to view a property, and can create an atmosphere which encourages multiple parties to make faster and stronger decisions about potentially purchasing the property. They are time efficient, and be held at specific times, perhaps over a weekend where all decision makers for the purchase can be present.”
He suggests that among the negatives are that an open days “can often make a property (depending on its size of property and frequency of viewings) feel smaller than it is. A buyer will get less 1:1 time to ask an agent questions. Some buyers will immediately reject a property being shown to multiple parties at an open house as they do not want to get in to a competitive situation.
Try to get the agent’s attention, be positive and attentive to any questions you ask because you want to make them think you are the only ones there; this should be before the viewing and after (when it’s booked in and when giving feedback). Aim to arrive at the start of the day or the end, but stick to your time slot. If the property is right for you then give the agent a call at the end of the day and ask a few more questions, see how the other appointments went and find out what you can about the vendor’s expectations and ask to be kept up to date with any progress and when offers need to be submitted.”