The purpose of open houses has changed. Twenty years ago, when listings weren't splashed all over the internet with videos, tons of photos, and even 3D images; when lockboxes weren't prevalent, and it was harder to get an appointment into a home; when a buyer's agent had to go pick up the key from the listing brokerage and bring it back after the showing, open houses had a specific purpose and were relevant. Now, yes, we do have buyers who go to an open house and write an offer, but as Kevin mentioned, had there not been an open house, there is a very high likelihood those same buyers would have seen the property anyway online, viewed the home in person via a showing appointment, and still written the offer. Therefore, it is a very, very small percentage of buyers who purchase a home because they stumbled upon a property they wouldn't have otherwise known about or been interested in, attended the open house, and then subsequently purchase the home only because of the open house.
For many years prior to the smart phone, the prevalence of the internet and technology, open house were a marketing staple. But I present to you, that while there is a time and place for open houses, there are far better areas of marketing your home to effectively get a buyer. Should you have an open house to sell your home? I don't think it is necessary.
Buyers are previewing homes with quality real estate photographs, floorplans and other enhanced marketing materials and making major decisions online. 30 years ago the information that is available at a few clicks of the keypad were not readily available like they are now.
The two times I recommend open houses is when a home is brand new to the market and when there has been a major change like a price change or a serious improvement to make the house more appealing. And, of course a major marketing strategy in this crazy sellers market is to only show at the open house to begin with to build up demand.
While this is a great strategy now as the market turns it could be a strategy that backfires.
The Purpose of The Open House
Let's define the purpose of an open house. An open house should be used to expose your house to a potential buyer that can close in the next 60 days. Period. But who is really showing up at your open house?
So why do some agents push open houses?
There are two reasons.
The first being a open house gets activity for the sellers and is quantifiable.
Second, open house have been a staple of marketing and agent in a community forever. Look what the National Association of REALTORS has to say about open houses and using them to gain market exposure for the agent. No where in this article do they talk about the benefit of the open house to the seller.
Google "should you have an open house to sell my home" and you will find a split among major news agencies with many saying the open houses benefits the agent more than the seller.
Open Houses Create False Hope for Sellers
Open house create a false hope for sellers. Again open houses are great the first weekend your home is on the market especially in a red hot sellers market. But as your home sits on the market they are far less effective.
So where is the false hope that is created?
You've scheduled your open house or houses for the weekend. You spend half the night cleaning up making sure everything is perfect. You get the kids and the dog packed in the car and you go find something to do for several hours. It's work for many home sellers.
Later that day your agent calls and says their were 8 groups through the house. You think great..... thats better than the one or two showings you received all week. But is it?
The reason being is the only qualifier for open house attendees is they get to the open house and walk through the door. How many of those attendees are actually prepared to close on your home, or any home for that matter. Less than you think.
Who Is Showing Up At Your Open House?
Following is an infographic on who is showing up at your open house. While there are many reasons someone may show up to your open house, here are common reasons I hear over and over.
Also I note theives... while no one comes through the door of an open house and announces they are here to commit a crime, it happens. One situation that has arisen since I have been in the business are people posing as home buyers seeking prescription meds, never mind the theft of small expensive electonics and jewelry.
It is certainly great you have activity at your open house but remember we want attendees that can close on your home in the next 60-90 days.
Yep, here this all the time. So you cleaned like your life depended on it, packed up kids that didn't want to leave the house, so a bunch of people could use your house to kill some time on a Sunday afternoon.
Personal Showing vs Open House
So maybe an actual buyer or two showed up to your open house. But a serious buyer would have scheduled a personal showing if there was no open house. As a matter of fact very few of my buyers go to open houses. They want to view homes they are interested in with me as their buyer's agent.
Rather than an open house a personal showing allows me and my home buyers to disucss the merits and drawbacks of a home as it suits their needs. The personal shoing allows us to speak candidly and take are time undhindered by a slew of people.
What Do Other Agents Have to Say About Open Houses?
Anita Clark "Inviting unfamiliar faces into a private, secluded space could present a whole new dangerous situation you are not readily equipped to handle. Unfortunately, open house crimes are not new to the real estate industry."
Bill Gassett "Open houses are a waste of time for a seller and entirely unnecessary to sell a home in the digital age."
Paul Sian "Selling a home is a process and the benefits and risks of open houses need to be discussed if that is a marketing activity that the seller wants to have in their home."
Kyle Hiscock "Are open houses necessary to sell a home? The answer is absolutely not! The percentage of homes that actually sell as a result of an open house is less than 2-3%.
Lynn Pineda "There used to be a time when open houses were more effective, when home Buyers were not searching for homes on the internet"
So Should I Have An Open House?
That is a very personal discussion to have with your agent.
There are risks and rewards for everything, including open houses. Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? For me and my experiences with open houses, except for some very specific times over the life of the listing, open houses are generally not worth the effort many home sellers have to put into them.
Given that less than 3% of home are actually sold at an open house and the fact that many of the attendees aren't even qualified to be there, doing open houses weekend after weekend is just a waste of your time and your agents time. Look towards other means of marketing rather than focusing on open houses.
A serious qualified buyer that is in the market will schedule a showing if there are no open houses scheduled. Plus if a buyer sees your having a ton of open houses they just may wait until the next one, but in the meantime they could find a house they like and forget about yours.
If having open houses is inconvenient to your family, skipping open houses will not effect your sale.
Managing Broker, Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC
REALTOR®, CRS, ePRO, SFR, GRI
Owner/Editor, Boles Editing & Proofreading
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