In the competitive world of real estate sales, a skilled real estate professional will use a variety of marketing and sales tactics to attract attention their listings. One of the tools used by most REALTORS® is holding an Open House at your home, hoping to expose it to potential buyers.
It should be noted that not all real estate salespeople believe in the value in holding an open house, thinking that the effort is not worth the return. Others will hold open houses on every one of their listings, especially in high-traffic areas or parts of your city that are experiencing robust sales activity.
Clearly it is a question you should ask the REALTORS® you are interviewing to sell your home – and yes, you should speak with at least 3 sales experts with proven records of success in your specific area before you sign a listing agreement to ensure you are comfortable with them, and with their action plan to achieve a successful sale.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential positive and negative aspects of holding your home open to show to prospective buyers.
Open Houses – On the Positive Side…
More Exposure to Potential Buyers
By scheduling and advertising your home as an open house, your REALTOR® is allowing more people to see your property, increasing the number of prospects. Typically held on weekends when buyers may be off of work, your listing agent will schedule the open house for a 2 or 3-hour period, usually in the early to mid-afternoon.
They’ll prepare some marketing materials on the property to hand out to visitors, and ensure they are up to date on all of the home’s features and details. To be clear, the people that come to view your open house are not likely going to develop into the actual buyer.
The REALTOR® is hoping that by meeting prospects who may not be interested in your home they’ll have an edge up on their competition if the prospect wants to see some other area listings.
But in the big picture, home sales are a numbers game – the more people who see your home, the better.
Educating First-Time Buyers
A person visiting your open house may never have purchased a home before but are seriously thinking of making their first home-buying journey. A good real estate professional will use this opportunity to educate the prospect on exactly what is involved in the home buying process, like applying for a mortgage, down payment issues and more, and gain a potential client.
Its doubtful your agent will let you know that this is a key benefit to them to hold open houses, but it is the reality.
Feedback is Key
A good agent will pay close attention to everything the visitor says about your open house and report it all back to you, good or bad. This is important information you can use to make a few minor updates to your home, like some better staging of furniture and accessories to make the home more appealing, and more.
You and your agent may also learn what prospects think about the price at which you’ve placed the house on the market. This can also be an eye opener, especially if you think the listing price may be a bit on the high side for that specific property but you let your agent list it at that number based on their research of the market and local expertise.
A Less High Pressure Experience
Most people who visit open houses go to more than one – in fact, some make it a sort of weekend activity or hobby. If your REALTOR® knows what they’re doing, they will have the house ready and in prime display condition, offer some type of refreshments like cookies and punch, and open the window shades and turn on the proper lights to make it as appealing as possible.
The atmosphere should be a relaxed, casual social opportunity, not a hard-sell session by the agent. Many people have been turned off by the agent holding the open house but in fact really loved the house itself.
Open House – The Downside
When your listing agent schedules an open house with your approval, you’ll need to do all you can to prepare the home for viewers. This can mean deep cleaning, removing clutter, a little furniture arrangement and more. You’ll also need to plan for something to do during the open house, since you should not be in the home.
Neighborhood Busy Bodies
Some folks decide to visit an open house near their home simply for the curiosity factor. They want to see inside their neighbor’s home, and this is the perfect opportunity.
While some have good intentions like seeing what similar homes near theirs are being marketed for, others simply want a chance to see how their neighbors live. A good agent can instantly tell the difference and should not spend a lot of time or energy in the effort to “sell” them the home.
Many open house visitors will even say they are just “here to look around, we live just up the block,” and an experienced real estate pro will treat them respectfully while staying focused on actual potential buyers, whether for your home or a different property.
Safety and Security Issues
Whenever you allow strangers into your home, you run the risk of letting unscrupulous people inside. There are many real stories of thieves posing as potential buyers only to check out your personal belongings with a plan of coming back to break in and steal them.
Still others may take the open house invitation to help themselves to smaller items without the agent seeing them, like jewelry, small trinkets, or other items they can easily slip in their pocket.
The advent of hidden cameras in homes may have diminished that risk a bit, but it does still happen. You should always either make sure your valuables are secure before an open house, including cash and even things like prescription medicines – some thieves will steal anything.
Reality: Slim Chance an Open House will Result in a Sale
Although your real estate agent may not tell you this, holding an open house will almost never result in procuring a buyer. While the exposure of your home to potential buyers is a positive, the odds say that very few open houses are the reason a buyer stumbled upon your home for sale.
The National Association of REALTORS® says that just 7% of home sales are a result of someone visiting an open house or seeing a yard sign on the property. This is a direct result of the “nosy neighbor” factor of people just visiting open houses for something to do.
Today, the internet provides just about every detail about available homes on the market, and sharp buyers will spend hours doing their homework online before they decide to visit your open house as a serious prospect.
There are also events called REALTOR® Open Houses, where only local real estate agents are invited to view your home, usually right after it is placed on the market.
Not advertised to the public, this may be the best type of open house to gain real exposure in the marketplace with dozens of local sales professionals seeing your home to determine if it may be the right property for a buyer they’re working with.
Most real estate firms will schedule a Broker’s Open House in their Multiple Listing Service to highlight new listings in their office, and agents from other area firms get to see the home early in the sales process.
Holding an open house at your home can be a good idea, provided you consider and are prepared for the good and bad of the process. Some open houses might have dozens of visitors in a few hours and yet others will receive none.
Hard as it may be to believe, the caliber of food or beverages – yes, some do offer alcoholic beverages – offered at an open house may, unfortunately, be an indicator of the event’s success.
If you can gain valuable and useful information from the experience and your real estate professional treats the opportunity as a real marketing tool and does things correctly, the pluses outweigh the minuses.