Can I Be Honest? The Art of Crafting an Open House Questionnaire

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When was the last time you heard a friend talk excitedly about filling out a customer service survey? Or a colleague who bragged about their street poll participation?

Unless there was some kind of freebie involved, our guess is never. So, when it comes to attaching a questionnaire to your open house, it’s natural if your gut instinct is to protest the idea.

But when you host an open house, you’ll need to squeeze some productivity out of it from any angle you can. This can be a challenge when 63% of agents don’t always recommend open houses in the first place.

One indirect benefit of these events? The chance to collect honest feedback about your residence and how it shows—and unless you’ve got a bunch of gabby visitors, they’ll be unlikely to express their opinions over coffee.

We’ve outlined 8 great questions to include in your open house questionnaire (which your agent can send out via email after-the-fact or hand out at the event) and how to harness raw criticism to your advantage.

A doormat mentioned in an open house questionnaire.
Source: (Lisa Fotios/ Pexels)

Question #1: What are your first impressions of the property?

First impressions last, and you’ll want to know what immediately stands out to potential buyers when they step into your home. Hopefully, their initial reaction is positive, but if it’s not, this feedback should be the first priority when it comes to making changes to your home.

Small things like a worn doormat, old mailbox, or overgrown lawn can knock off major first impression points. If visitors were less than impressed, focus on the features they found problematic. Maybe this means a fresh coat of paint to the front door, a new window box with plants, or deodorizing the house from any noticeable smells.

“[One of my seller clients] had a dog, and the buyer didn’t mention the pet but made a comment about the smell of the carpet in the living room,” recalls Eddie Blanco, a top-selling agent in Hialeah, Florida. He encouraged his seller to strip out the carpet, and invest $1,500 into laminate flooring.

“And boom, the house sold. She got that $1,500 back and then some.”

Swapping out the carpet on the property meant buyers were welcomed by fresh new flooring, rather than reminders of the owner’s pet friend (reminder: not everyone’s a dog person!)

Question #2: What did you like most about the property? What did you like least about it?

If you get feedback on what buyers love about your house, play up the features they gushed over.

Did they comment on the airy, open concept kitchen? Consider adding more photos of this space to your listing and use kitchen staging techniques to make the heart of the home shine. What visitors love about your property might be different than what you enjoy, so getting a different point of view can help.

The reverse goes for least enjoyed element of your property. Frequently, these things can’t be easily changed, like the location of the home or the number of bathrooms, but even this feedback can be incorporated into improvements.

“So look, if they’re saying the rooms are small, you’ve got to ask a seller if they’re willing to do a few things,” Blanco says. If negative feedback revolves around the size of the rooms, you could:

Making a house feel more spacious doesn’t require dramatic renovations. When in doubt, less stuff is always more: “Take all the stuff off the nightstands, leave one lamp on there, one book, and get rid of all the other stuff,” advises Blanco.

Question #3: How does this house compare to others you’ve toured?

It never hurts to hear about the competition, especially if they’re comparable to your home. Your agent will already have scoped out nearby recently sold properties with a comparative market analysis, but asking visitors to talk about how your home stacks up to others gives you additional free research on the neighborhood.

It also can give you an idea of what buyers in your market are looking for right now—whether it’s hardwood floors or white-and-gray color schemes.

Source: (Pxhere)

Question #4: How do you feel about the size of the rooms?

While this question might be touched on above, it makes sense to ask specifically about the size of the rooms. At face value, this feedback might seem worthless—you likely won’t renovate based on seller feedback—but this insight can be particularly helpful when it comes to staging.

Feedback like, “The living room felt small,” means you need to address the furniture and staging in this room. Consider removing additional couches or chairs, as well as art on the wall or decorations. You might even consider repainting the room to play with scale and perspective.

Question #5: On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being dirty and 5 being pristine, how would you rank the cleanliness of the property?

For the purposes of an open house, your house needs to be cleaned to perfection. “I’m talking about a level of cleanliness that none of us actually live in,” says Blanco.

Everyone’s understanding of clean is a little different, so averaging out the responses can give you an idea of how the property is perceived. Numbers came in lower than you thought? Hire a cleaning service to do a deep clean.

Higher than you imagined? Pat yourself on the back, and then be sure to keep the house sparkling throughout the showing period.

Question #6: How true is this statement? “I think the pricing of the property is fair.”

With this question, give buyers a range of answer choices from which to select, such as: “Very true, Somewhat True, Neutral, Somewhat Untrue, Very Untrue.”

While you might not directly change price based on this feedback, it’s a good indicator of how much perceived value is in your property. This won’t necessarily gauge who among the surveyed can buy it, but will give you an idea of what people think the property is worth.   

If your response rate averages out to “very untrue” you’ve likely overpriced your home, or visitors are having a hard time finding the value in it. Consider reworking your real estate listing, or yes, even coming down in asking price to fit the expectations of buyers.

Question #7: What could be done to make you buy this property today?

This question has the potential to bring you the harshest feedback, but it can be constructive.

Maybe the buyer would consider the property at a lower asking price, or if you threw in a home warranty or pieces of furniture in the home. Regardless of what they say, one of their demands might be agreeable to you.

Source: (Pxhere)

Use one of these digital tools to send out your questionnaire

Once you’ve decided on your list of questions, your real estate agent can use the emails you collected at the open house to send out the questionnaire to visitors.

While the response rate of an email could be lower than that of an in-person survey (according to Survey Anyplace, the average response rate for emailed surveys hovers around 33%), the answers are likely to be more truthful over the net. The buyers don’t have the added pressure of being in the property as they fill it out, and the anonymity of the emailed survey can lead to more honest answers.

If you’re feeling ambitious, check out SurveyMonkey’s set of real estate questionnaire templates and build yours from scratch, with some help.

If that’s too much to handle, we’ve rounded up some templates that can make sending your open house survey a breeze.

If you’re hosting an open house, take it one step further with a follow-up questionnaire. Gathering feedback on your home is helpful, and while the open house might not lead to a sale, the feedback could lead to an action item that improves your listing to future buyers. Don’t be afraid to ask buyers what they think about your home—you might be surprised by what you hear.

Article Image Source: (Kelly Sikkema/ Unsplash)