Monday, August 16, 2021

Blog Tour: Open House!



An Insider’s Tour of the Secret World of Residential Real Estate For Agents, Sellers, and Buyers


Date Published:  May 2021

Publisher:  Canterbury Books

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OPEN HOUSE! New Book By Veteran Realtor Joey Sheehan

Takes Readers Behind the Scenes Of An Often Opaque Industry


Approximately two-thirds of Americans are involved in real estate transactions. Yet there are few (if any) books that help people understand this complex activity from the perspectives of all three types of parties involved – agent, seller, and buyer. Stepping into the breach, seasoned Realtor Joey Sheehan has written a unique work — OPEN HOUSE! — filled with entertaining anecdotes and practical advice to ensure that her readers’ next real estate transaction proceeds as smoothly as possible.

“Residential real estate is a business like no other,” she writes. “It’s not rational like other businesses because the commodity being bought or sold is a home rather than a car or a refrigerator, and everybody knows that a man’s home is his castle. People get touchy about their castles — you can trust me on this — in a way they don’t about anything else.” Sellers often believe their homes are worth more than the market will bear. Buyers can make unreasonable demands. The agents for both need to ably guide their clients through a potentially volatile process with integrity and professionalism. Sheehan’s insights and counsel help everyone work together to benefit all.

The backbone of OPEN HOUSE! is Sheehan’s Twelve Laws of Real Estate:


1: Selling and buying real property is a very touchy business.

2: Academics publish or perish; Realtors sell or perish.

3: The seller may propose, but it is the buyer who disposes.

4: At the beginning, in the middle, and at the end, it’s always about price.

5: To get paid what you’re worth, insist on getting paid what you’re worth.

6: To stay out of legal trouble, learn the facts, and disclose them.

7: The first offer is the best offer.

8: It’s not over until it’s over.

9: Time is of the essence.

10: If a party to a transaction doesn’t understand the sales contract and something bad happens, watch out—especially if you’re the agent working with the party that does understand it.

11: Never commoditize Realtors: there are the great, the good, the middling, the incompetent, and the disastrous.

12: Engage a Realtor with superior skills, because up to and including the settlement at which a property’s legal transfer of ownership occurs, bizarre problems can surface.


Carefully considering the ramifications of each of the Twelve Laws, Sheehan helps agents understand how they can provide the best service possible, grow their businesses, and avoid unpleasant repercussions, ranging from frivolous client complaints to serious lawsuits. For sellers, she explains how to maximize the value of their homes and avoid the most common mistakes, such as not decluttering and staging their homes in a way calculated to appeal to prospects. For buyers, she provides extensive advice on how to find and purchase their dream home, even in a competitive bidding war. And most importantly, she helps everyone understand the terms of a real estate contract, a document which is legally binding on all parties to a transaction.

With her engaging writing style and flair for storytelling, Sheehan has created the ultimate guide to residential real estate sales. As Robert M. DeMarinis, a former vice president at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, observes, “OPEN HOUSE! delivers because it combines a smart businesswoman’s memoir with an impish ride through her professional world—not from the outside looking in but from the inside looking out!”  Anyone who is thinking about selling or buying a home or who works in the residential real estate industry will profit from reading this witty and informative book.



As someone who grew up in an academic environment and enjoyed a first career as a scholar herself, I naturally am intimately acquainted with the ivory tower imperative to publish or perish. It did not take me long to discover that residential Realtors have their equivalent imperative. At first blush, the business seems easy. It’s easy to sign up for real estate courses, which are intrinsically interesting and well worth taking even if you’ve no intention of ever selling any properties. It’s easy to pass the state licensing exam. It’s easy to find a brokerage company willing to take you on. The hard part comes next and lasts the entire length of your career: finding business. If you cannot find business and use that business to build a business, you are toast. The five-year attrition rate for new real estate agents, which according to the National Association of Realtors is up to 87 percent, is sky-high for this very reason.

When viewed from the bottom-line perspective of sales productivity, a Realtor’s career is under perpetual assault by her numbers. If they are high enough, she is respected and well-compensated. If they’re not, her commission split with her brokerage company may be adjusted downward, which is nothing if not downright disheartening to a hardworking practitioner. It is no wonder, then, that such a gigantic proportion of real estate books is devoted to sales productivity and the particular kind of mindset that stimulates it.

Sunday Open Houses

Without an established technique yet for reeling in business, the novice Realtor will follow tried-and-true traditional methods. For decades one such method has been to host Sunday open houses for established agents with too many listings to service without help. That the public instinctually feels home selling is a trickier business than home buying would seem to be corroborated by my discovery, early on, that new agents can find it challenging to entice homeowners to list with them right off the bat. Buyers, by contrast, blessedly have no reservations about working with Realtors possessing minimal experience. My first several sales were made to total strangers, people I had met while hosting Sunday open houses at colleagues’ listings. It never occurred to these buyers to inquire how long I had been in the business, which may have been irresponsible of them but was most welcome to me at the time. We all have to start somewhere.

Hosting public open houses proved a fabulous initial way for me to solicit clients. Personally, I was never a fan of taking office phone duty, and today the internet ensures that the public will call far less than it will email anyway. Meeting people in the field, in an actual house, gives an agent a chance to size them up, chat them up, get their contact information, and follow up. With perseverance and a little luck, an agent will succeed in converting at least some of these leads into promising clients.

One of my very first $1,000,000 sales, back when $1,000,000 still bought a luxury property at a coveted address, was to a couple I had met in an unprepossessing home. I was hosting a Sunday open house for another Realtor, and Bob and Alice walked in the front door, lost and needing directions. I proceeded to give them—but not before securing the pair’s full names and out-of-state home phone number. It was a good while before I managed to sell those two a house because they were initially constrained to work with an agent assigned by the relocation company managing their move. However, the agent proved not to be up to the job, and eventually (after much low-key, persistent lobbying on my part) I was invited to work with the new general counsel of a top Fortune 500 company and his wife.

The lesson is that academics publish or perish; Realtors sell or perish.



About the Author

Joey Sheehan, author of OPEN HOUSE!, is an award-winning real estate agent with over thirty years of experience. She is affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors. After graduating with a BA from the University of California at Berkeley, she obtained an MA from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a PhD from Harvard University in Chinese intellectual history. Her first book, which was about the prominent Chinese scholar Wang Guowei (1877-1927), was published by Harvard University Press. She has written widely about both China and residential real estate in a variety of journals, newsletters, magazines, and newspapers. Learn more at


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