Written by Andrew Goodman
Question: My house is about to go on the market and I was curious to get your take on open houses. Are open houses really worth it?
This has been a hot topic lately so I’m glad you brought it up. I am a firm believer that nothing works all of the time, but everything works some of the time. (Basically, doing something is better than doing nothing at all.)
But I don’t believe open houses are absolutely necessary.
Open houses are a great way to bring in buyers that want a quick glance at your home. It is a way for you or your realtor to get in front of the buyers and really explain the pros of the home.
No realtor, besides hopefully your own, will be able to describe and explain your home better. Some buyers that do not have a realtor enjoy touring homes on their own. Open houses make it convenient for them to do so without having to schedule a specific time with your listing agent or the seller. On top of that, open houses are also a known time for a seller to make sure the home is in pristine condition. Sellers can touch up, clean, decorate, and or stage the home the best way possible ahead of time in preparation for the open house — unlike having last minute realtors come through to show the home with only a one- or two-hour notice.
The biggest creator of problems in having an open house is whether the agent will be focused on selling the home or focused on finding new clients.
This has been an issue for what seems like forever. Almost every agent that has ever held an open house will tell you they met a new client at one — and that they found the client a new home that wasn’t the open house where they met.
This is not a real issue if that buyer wasn’t interested in the home in the first place. But how do you know for sure?
I have held many open houses and talked with agents who have been in the industry for more than 20 years. Together, we can count the number of buyers on one hand who purchased that specific home being shown off in an open house. Those buyers usually buy other homes.
Open houses can change with the market conditions. With our current seller’s market, many buyers have been willing to pay a premium so the sellers will cancel the open house.
Some listing agents advertise an open house in hopes to give a sense of urgency, which in most cases isn’t just a sense but a reality. In a buyer’s market, you tend to see open house signs all over the place — agents are holding homes open in hopes to attract any buyer.
I personally don’t recommend holding open houses right away, unlike most agents.
Most agents hold open houses the first weekend the property comes on the market. The reason for my philosophy is that most buyers have realtors these days, so why should we get in their way?
I’m not a fan of stepping on the toes of an agent for a buyer, nor am I fond of making the buyers uncomfortable when viewing the property. Most buyers don’t like being watched when viewing a home, so why would a buyer feel comfortable being watched at an open house? Sellers and their agents will know within the first week whether the home is priced correctly or if an open house is needed because of the activity on the home.
Let the thousands of realtors work for you. Let them show their buyers the property when it’s convenient for them and in the way they are most comfortable. If a buyer is not represented, and is in fact a true buyer, they will contact the listing agent. If they are just a window shopper or nosy neighbor, you don’t need, nor want them wandering through your home and looking at your belongings in the first place.
In a nutshell, an open house is a great tool. But that tool may not always be the tool that is necessary.
If your home is advertised and priced appropriately you will obtain great results. Be sure to consult your realtor to decide if an open house is best for your marketing plan.