Toronto brokerage TheRedPin.com says while the ritual of holding an open house attracts many potential buyers, they only account for five per cent of sales. Sales reps hold open houses to attract new clients, but many open houses also attract nosy neighbours and lookie-loos out for some free weekend entertainment.
“TheRedPin’s philosophy is all about customer service, so we do open houses on our listings because clients are accustomed to this norm. We’re working to shift this mindset,” says Rokham Fard, co-founder TheRedPin.com. “There are some networking benefits, but an open house is just that – open. That guarantees you will get people coming through who have no intention of buying the home.”
The brokerage commissioned body language expert, author and keynote speaker Mark Bowden of Truthplane to develop what they are calling “the world’s first comprehensive field guide for identifying ‘lookie-loos.’ ”
“One surefire way to tell who’s serious and who is snooping is to look at what, and how, they touch things. A snoop will simply push open a door, while a buyer will handle the doorknob to feel for quality,” says the company. “A snoop will lean against the kitchen counter, while a real buyer will run his hands over it. The latter indicates the buyer is already feeling a sense of ownership in the home.”
TheRedPin says, “A lookie-loo enjoys poking around other people’s homes; for many, it’s a hobby, or cheap weekend entertainment. If a visitor has kids tagging along, they are probably a serious buyer; no one out for fun would drag whining children along. Similarly, if parents or in-laws are in tow, it’s likely you’re dealing with serious buyers.”
It says someone who is seriously looking to buy will answer any questions succinctly. So if simple questions result in rambling, tangential soliloquies, you’re likely dealing with a lookie-loo.
“People who are trying to deceive will go into far too much detail when responding to simple questions,” says Bowden. “Real buyers will keep their answers short and sweet.”
Lookie-loos who get caught in the act will likely respond in one of two ways, both of which involve the mouth, he says. Some will be angry at being caught; this will manifest itself with a tight upper lip and a slightly dropped chin.
Others may instead feel amused by their cover being blown and respond with a smirk. This smirk is known as the “duper’s delight,” and is a widely acknowledged “tell” in any dishonest situation, Bowden says.
TheRedPin says a real buyer is looking for a move-in ready home that will require little work before the truck arrives. If a visitor is talking about grand plans like tearing out walls, gutting the kitchen and bathroom, or even critiquing the furniture and drapes, they are likely a lookie-loo, it says.
Couples will look for a home together, but some will also spend their weekends open-house-hopping for sport. While it seems counterintuitive, the couples who disagree and argue are likely the true potential buyers, the brokerage says.
“Searching for a home is a process,” says Bowden. “Couples discover what they like and don’t like by looking and discussing. If two people are in complete agreement, they’re probably voyeurs, not buyers.”