April 26, 2014 -- intro: In a housing market that has never been hotter, real estate agents still have to pull out all the stops to market high-end properties to potential buyers.
Real estate agents have long relied on open houses to show off listings. But when it comes to luxury, million-dollar homes, they're now using pimped-out, over-the-top open houses to help get buyers in the door. From coast-to-coast, brokers are throwing glamorous cocktail parties to make sure their most luxurious listings stand out.
Maribeth Lynch, a real estate agent in suburban Boston, is known for throwing extreme open houses. For her, open houses are about "illustrating the lifestyle" and connecting with people.
"For me, it's about the networking opportunities that we all have," Lynch said. "It's just an energy that happens when you have an event, any event, whether it's an extreme open house or a cocktail party, it just happens. People talk and the next thing you know they know somebody who knows somebody and I just feel that it's our job to connect the dots."
"Nightline Prime" followed Lynch as she threw together a lavish open house at an estate in Shrewsbury, Mass., that she had been trying to sell for months. The asking price was $1.35 million -- more than double the price of the average home in the area.
But even if the open houses don't land a buyer, Lynch still thinks they are worth it, saying her goal "is to expose as many people to the property, in an elegant way," as possible.
Lynch shared with "Nightline Prime" some of the amenities she uses at her extreme open houses:
quicklist: title: Champagne on Icetext:The wait staff will greet potential buyers at the front door with glasses of bubbly.
quicklist: title: Exquisite Catered Foodtext:From an artisan cheese and wine pairing set up in the kitchen, to chocolate-covered strawberries in the bathrooms, Lynch hires a catering service to have aperitifs served or placed all over the house.
"The caterer is very much part of the entertainment," Lynch said. "People love food, they love drinks, they love that whole connection of pairing up food with the different areas of the home, so our caterer was first thing I booked and from there, we started to think about the different attributes of the property we wanted to highlight."
quicklist: title: Harpistmedia:23476354text:Having soft music adds "comfort and elegance" to a home, Lynch said, so a harpist was brought in to play as guests wandered from room to room.
The harpist Lynch booked, Felicia Pomerenz from Gilded Harps, said she wasn't surprised to get an open house gig.
"In fact, we do this a lot," Pomerenz said.
quicklist: title: 'Movement' Instructortext:For the Shrewsbury estate's open house, Lynch had a yoga and Pilates instructor come in and set up in one of the rooms to demonstrate that it could work as a yoga studio or exercise space.
"We felt like, as we were looking at the different spaces that we wanted to highlight, this felt it had the vibe of a very healthy, clean feeling to us and we thought it would be the perfect place for the homeowner to practice yoga if that's what they were into," Lynch said. "So we're demonstrating different uses for the area."
quicklist: title: Psychicmedia: 23476259text:Lynch had a psychic come in to do readings for the guests and to make predictions on whether or not the estate was right for them.
"I've often said as a realtor if I couldn't sell houses I would be … a matchmaker, because that's really what we do, and it's amazing when you know that buyer is right for a house, and when that happens it's flawless, it's awesome," Lynch said.