May 9, 2010

Neon Posterboard: Tales of the Open House

Trying to sell our house without professional representation has been an interesting experience. We are grateful for the support of my real estate guru brother, Eric, who is happy to help us along from Arizona. We look forward to buying our next house from Eric!

This weekend we decided to host an open house, hoping to lure The Buyer from wherever he or she is hiding. We posted ads on the MLS, Craigslist, and the other sites where our home is listed. Eric suggested that neighborhood signs would be the key to getting people in the door, so I devoted much of Friday to that effort.

I bought enough supplies at Wal-Mart and Home Depot for 30 signs. Putting them together was simpler and less time-consuming than I anticipated. I cut poster boards in half, then used acrylic paint and a foam brush to letter each sign.

I did all of this while the babies took miraculous naps on Friday afternoon. Tyler was a gem and helped me with the wet signs. When I finished each poster, he carried it to a place where it could dry. I was amused when I found such an organized pattern of posters in the garage.

It wasn't until after I had started painting that I realized I didn't know which way to paint the arrows. Once all the signs were drying I printed out a map of our neighborhood (plus a two-mile radius) and tried to figure out how many "lefts" and "rights" I needed. This process nearly broke my brain. I decided to do half and half. Then, after Garry got home, I used a staple gun to attach the poster boards to wooden stakes. Garry mowed the lawn and the kids played outside while I worked. We were up really late on Friday night getting the house ready to show in the morning.

Early Saturday morning, we did the last-minute things necessary to show the house. (I also had a crisis because I realized I had thrown away my last pair of contacts, which is beside the point of this post, but colored my whole morning.) Then, at 8:15 a.m., we loaded kids and signs in the car and drove around to stake them at important intersections. I drove and Garry placed the signs. It was an adventure trying to figure out which corners of the intersections were best, which signs should go which directions, which colors would stand out in each place, and how to drop off and pick up Garry without holding up traffic and/or endangering Garry's life. That process took over an hour.

Just before 10:00, we returned home to finish up the final details. We set out the cookies we had made the night before, along with a pitcher of water. We placed on the counter a stack of fliers and a list of things we love about living here. Garry set up a computer to collect visitor information. I quickly ran a vacuum over the three upstairs bedroom carpets that I had cleaned and dried the night before. Just as I put away the vacuum, the doorbell rang. Our first guest had arrived! I quickly left with the kids.

Garry stayed at the house from ten to one. About a dozen people came to see the house. Some were quite interested, some were casual lookers, and others were investers or mortgage brokers. One agent showed up and gave us her pitch. Overall, we were a little disappointed at the turnout; of course we hoped for more traffic and a solid offer! However, we were again encouraged by all of the positive feedback on the house, and pleased to learn that everyone had decided to come because of our signs. We're just waiting for the right person to come along.

At the end of the open house, I picked up Garry and we retrieved all of our signs. Retrieval was a faster process! Gavin fell asleep as we drove home. His posture expressed how we all felt, just mid-way through the day! Life is just exhausting sometimes.

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