Open House signs antique? like typewriters?

After returning to an “open” business environment after three months, the future of Open Houses seems to be bordering extinct. Or more accurately obsolete, like the typewriter.

Can you write with a typewriter? Yes, but why would you? Can you have an Open House? Yes, but with all the restrictions necessary and appointments required, why would you want to go?

Open House Pivot

Pivot is a word often used to express the dramatic and rapid changes impacting the real estate market due to COVID19. Some changes were underway but became accelerated, like virtual selling.

Others, like Open Houses, have completely “pivoted” to something other than what they were.

The non-committal and casual nature of Open Houses was a way to explore local real estate without an agent, or appointment.

Virtual Open Houses were a work around during our COVID19 shut down, using video previously taken or with the owner’s cooperation via Zoom video conference.

The new standard is to present a virtual Open House on Zoom with the agent guiding a tour of previously recorded video or navigating the Matterport 3D layout. Appointments are required, and if you “stop in” late you miss the video tour.

While it’s better than nothing, and a way to get a “peak” at the interior of the home, it’s not the casual easy way to explore real estate that we have enjoyed for so long.

Virtual Selling – the new standard of practice

In today’s market, virtual selling should be a standard of practice. I’ve sold homes virtually using video since 2008. It doesn’t make sense to book an appointment for a video tour that I already have access to, or should.

Every listing should provide a video tour. For my sellers I do a marketing video, think of it like a movie trailer;

Then I do the actual walk through video which takes you through the home as if you are there.

The home buying process has “pivoted.” Home buyers used to wait to interview and hire an agent until they were ready to buy. Now it’s best practice to do that at the beginning of your search.

Likewise, your pre-approval is needed early in the process as it’s required along with a COVID19 form to book showings.

Open House Standards Due to COVID19

Now that physical Open Houses are allowed, understandably there are awkward restrictions. As an example, here are highlights of a current brokerage’s Open House guideline for agents;

1. Sales associates and all open house visitors must wear a mask.
2. Social distancing rules should be maintained.
3. Disinfect all high-touch areas prior to and between each group of visitors; provide hand sanitizer if possible.
4. Sales associates should limit open house attendance to one group at a time to maintain appropriate distancing and accompany them through their tour to minimize unintended touching of surfaces. Additional groups can be asked to wait outside and to maintain social distancing while doing so.
5. Maintain a record of everyone entering the property, including name and E-mail address or cell phone number.

COVID19 is “here to stay” – we must adapt

The Economist recently published – COVID 19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt :

“The worst is to come. Based on research in 84 countries, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reckons that…without a medical breakthrough, the total number of cases will climb to 200m-600m by spring 2021.”

We cannot just return to “business as usual” as the battle against this pandemic is far from over.

Protecting buyers and sellers from unnecessary public exposure and utilizing current technology to present a virtual buying experience is now a necessary standard of practice – not just an option.

While our local market is now pushed to pivot in this direction, it’s long overdue in terms of providing the highest level of service to our clients.

Home buying is a journey – not a transaction

I provide information, support, advise and guidance from early exploration of the market through negotiations and closing as my personal standard of practice. Sometimes the answer is to not buy, which is perfectly fine. It’s all about what’s best for you!

The rush to provide virtual Open Houses has been a push to generate “leads” or meet prospective buyers. Open Houses have always been more of a networking opportunity for the agent than a true selling tool for the home owner. Virtual Open Houses provide marketing exposure for the agent but present an awkward experience for buyers.

Virtual Home Buying Service

Using virtual selling expertise, I create video walk throughs of properties throughout the home buying process to narrow down selections and fine tune the home search for my clients. That way, the showings we book in person are in reality 2nd showings. This saves time, protects home buyers and sellers from unnecessary exposure and streamlines the home buying process.

Open House Signs – an antique?

When I sold luxury real estate on Kauai, my open house signs were often stolen and used for fighting rooster sheds, an illegal but popular local sport.

One way of repurposing them but not a big demand on the Main Line!

While I haven’t thrown my Open House signs away, they are in the back closet for now! My ‘go bag’ is full of video equipment instead.

Manhattan to the Main Line

While the migration of New Yorkers to Philadelphia is not new, post COVID-19 we are seeing some interesting shifts in demographics.

The New York Times recently reported on Where New Yorkers Moved to Escape the Coronavirus.

Prior to COVID-19, the largest demand in Philly from Manhattan luxury buyers was for Center City condos and townhomes with easy access to Amtrak’s 30th St Station.

For example, amenity rich condos like The Residences at Ritz-Carlton in mid-town Philly that resonate with a Manhattan luxury lifestyle – but less expensive, quieter and a little more friendly.

Why Philly? In 2018 The New York Times article, Leaving New York to find the American Dream in Philadelphia, highlights a migration of artisans, chefs, immigrants and business owners to Philly from New York. All with a dream in mind.

Settlement Day at The Stables – 2013

As an example, learn first hand “Why Philly” from my clients who purchased the first PASSIVE-Certified luxury home at THE STABLES in Northern Liberties.

They were originally looking at traditional offerings in Society Hill, but were fascinated with this more creative, cutting edge option.

Seven years ago, my clients moved from Manhattan to Northern Liberties where they purchased the first PASSIVE-Certified luxury townhomes in Philly

Remote luxury homes on the Main Line in areas like Gladwyne and Bryn Mawr are seeing a huge uptick in demand from Manhattan buyers.

While once criteria was “walkability” to train stations and shopping, but post COVID-19 New Yorkers are looking for privacy, acreage, flexible living space as highlighted in my recent article “Top 5 new features to sell your home post COVID-19.”

I had the honor of recently helping my Manhattan clients purchase this luxury Merion Station home during the COVID-19 shut down.

365 Meadow Lane in Merion Station offered the perfect mix of historic architecture and renovated interior living space. Going to Manhattan 2-3 days a week is easy with a short drive to 30th Street Station.

Another successful Manhattan to Main Line relocation

“Susanna is a total gem. We started looking for homes in early 2020. We had not yet found an agent, but struck up a conversation with her at an open house.

My husband and I immediately noticed how real she was: she was truthful and did not try to “sell’ us, either on the home or on her as an agent. As a result, we asked her to represent us.

Throughout the process, she was incredible: she educated us about the different neighborhoods, prepared fact books for each weekend that we looked for homes, and made sure she never wasted our time showing us homes that were not a fit.

At the end of the process, we found the perfect place. I can honestly say, it was all because of her. I cannot express how amazing she is and how rare as an agent: kind, thoughtful, realistic, honest, easy to work with.

I would work with her in a second if we ever needed to again, and so cannot recommend her more highly.”

If you’re looking for a luxury home or weekend retreat on the Main Line, contact me for off-market options. It’s my pleasure to help.

How do I transition a traditional home to attract today’s luxury millennial buyers?

Millennial home buying trends have become a hot topic in luxury real estate. Millennials include anyone born between 1981 and 1996, and they’re quickly becoming a dominating force in real estate. In 2018, millennials represented the largest cohort of home buyers at 37 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report.

This group now outnumbers baby boomers, and what they’re looking for in a home is drastically different than what their parents wanted when they entered the market.

Now more than ever, luxury buyers are viewing time as a luxury. How does that translate?

Homes need to be move-in ready. It’s not just about the money. The time it takes to renovate is too “expensive” in terms of what it takes away from quality of life.

So how do you transition a traditional home with stately architecture to attract a modern millennial buyer? My LIVE broadcast guest, Christina Henck, owner of award winning Henck Design shared some valuable tips and insights:

When we talk about “less is more” it relates to a key design element we artists called “negative space” – that’s the “blank” or “empty” space on a canvas surrounding an image, or the space between and around elements of a sculpture. The negative space is as important in design as the “positive” space (image, element – or in this case furniture).

Check out the clean design and flow created in the “negative space” in this luxury home.

The “negative space” creates a visual flow as well as a physical flow for walk through traffic on home buyer tours as well as videos.

Both are important elements of creating the kind of “sizzle” you want to drive buyers to take action!

Let’s talk! Please book a private consult on my calendar, and we’ll look at your home through FaceTime or Zoom and discuss ideas to maximize the market appeal for today’s buyers.