By Vanessa Roman
Technology has changed the way property is bought and sold; most people use the internet to start the search for a new investment property or to check out the competition before deciding to list a property for sale. It only makes sense to change your strategy to suit online demand.
But buying and selling property is still very much a people business and I believe there are valuable opportunities for investors, sellers and agents to connect at open houses.
When you're starting your hunt for a new investment property, you may need to look for ideas of what you want. Listings online or on paper only tell you so much. Getting a sense of a property's space is one important aspect, but so too is the neighbourhood.
If there is an open house in the neighbourhood in which you want to buy, I recommend attending. Even if you don’t love that particular house, it's an opportunity to see what your budget will buy in the area and to question the real estate agent about the local scene and amenities. If you are lucky, you may even overhear comments from other attendees about the property, neighbours and neighbourhood.
Doing research on the many housing styles, neighbourhoods, and by questioning several real estate agents in the area will also help you better define your needs and housing wish list when it’s time for you to put in an offer.
When I started my career in real estate, open houses were one of the agent’s tried, tested and true methods of selling a home and meeting potential new clients. I met a huge variety of people during those open houses – from the nosy neighbours and open house junkies to first-time lookers and potential homebuyers who later became my new clients.
The "looky-loo" type of house buyer does exist at open houses. But that shouldn't be used by agents as an excuse against open houses and that shouldn't deter investors from going to an open house to learn more about the property and the neighbourhood.
There may be people who are just attending an open house for a laugh or to pass the time, but for every one of those types, in my experience, there are more attendees who are genuinely looking for a new property or for ways to improve their own before listing it for sale.
Adapting sales strategies to meet the changing demands of the online market is one aspect of real estate success, but so is connecting with people. Open houses are a great way to do that because you never know when you’re going to walk into your next investment property.
Vanessa Roman is the host of HGTV's Reno vs Relocation. She is also a licensed real estate agent who divides her time between Halifax and Toronto.
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