July 1st 2014
The Real Deal
New York open houses often feature the same routine: potential buyers grab a print-out, quickly peek at the rooms, and then dash for the door before the kids get too bored or hungry. Now, brokers across the city are aiming to break that pattern by embellishing viewings with themes, balloons and sweet snacks.
Warburg’s Jason Haber last month took the concept to a new level, when he had the idea for a special “Frozen”-themed open house for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom Soho duplex with a backyard.
The idea originated at his own home one night, when he found his 2-year-old daughter, Makayla, singing “Let It Go,” from the Disney movie, which is now the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
Warburg’s Leslie Hutchings, who has the listing at 255 Hudson Street with Haber, had organized previous special open houses with him, but this was the first one geared toward families.
It took about two weeks to plan: An actress was hired (through online errand and job service Task Rabbit) to play Queen Elsa, and a cutout of Olaf the snowman stood in the hallway to point the way. The brokers sprinkled fake snow in the garden and served star-shaped cookies with pink sprinkles on “Frozen”-themed plates.
Eight staffers from Warburg were present at the 90-minute open house, but turnout was lower than expected, with about seven interested parties checking out the property.
In May, Douglas Elliman brokers Melanie Lazenby and Dina Lewis hosted a children’s party at the penthouse at the Whitman on Madison Square Park. Coinciding with the Madison Square Park’s Kid’s Fest, which was the same day, the brokers turned the penthouse into a rooftop carnival. The 6,500-square-foot unit is on the market for $23.5 million.
And in Park Slope, Town Residential broker Eric Sidman said a special open house featuring a balloon artist and an ice cream truck recently helped sell two $2.395 million four-bedroom, three-bathroom units.
“This was the first time we decided to do this,” Sidman said.
Whether it’s an ice cream truck or an actress playing Elsa, brokers are doing what they can to stand out. Across the city there are hundreds of open houses on any given Sunday, Sidman said, “but mine is the one people will remember.”