This is a common question - do open houses work? And who really benefits from them? Like most things in life, there are pros and cons. Let's take a look at them.
Those in favor of open houses, raise your hand!
- A lot of buyers are waiting in the wings and will want to see your house as soon as it's listed. It can be annoying and nerve-wracking to get a ton of calls to schedule - and reschedule - appointments and keep the house in top shape 24 hours a day. It's not always easy to vacate the premises, especially on short notice, but you don't want to turn down a showing request unless you absolutely must. It's a better use of your time to make plans to head out for a day or two the first weekend the house is on the market, and let your agent do an open house or two. This will allow a number of people to view the house in a somewhat leisurely fashion, ask your agent questions, and decide if they really are interested in the house. Often people aren't really interested, but are curious neighbors or "tire kickers" who aren't ready to buy or who just like to go to open houses! Let these people come in with the group of serious, potential buyers instead of wasting your time and energy on private showings.
- An open house, particularly in a fast moving market like we're experiencing now, can create a sense of scarcity and urgency. Buyers will see all the other potential buyers crowding into an open house and will feel thta they must make an offer. It's obvious, isn't it, that if all these other people are looking, it must be a great value? This is known as the auction effect, and it can be very beneficial to a seller.
- Open houses are a great way to collect a lot of great feedback from a variety of sources. Feedback from buyers directly is important, as is professional feedback from other agents. While everyone has their own tastes and opinions, if you hear the same feedback over and over again, you need to take it to heart. Address those items and issues, as they are likely the very things that will prevent you from getting an offer - or at least prevent a serious offer from coming in.
- Unique properties can benefit from open houses if their special features can't easily be seen or appreciated in photos and writeups. Sometimes you just have to get up close and personal to fall in love with a house!
A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the success rate of open houses is a mere 2% to 4%. Similar studies in other countries have mirrored these results.
- Some agents and sellers consider an open house a waste of everyone's time, particularly if you use the NAR findings above. With the easy, instant availability of listing information online many people don't feel the need to rush out to an open house. They can peruse photos and other information at their leisure, at any time of day or night. If the photos pique their interest, they'll make an appointment to see the property at a conveninet time.
- Some agents are nervous about their personal safety, no matter what type of neighborhood the property is located in. Stories on the news about Realtors being abducted or assaulted have led to increased concern for safety, and caution should always rule. Sellers are sometimes concerned about the personal belongings, and just don't like the idea of strangers roaming through their house. Just having that "For Sale" sign outside your home can feel invasive, so if you're not happy with the idea of a group of people coming through your home, let your agent know.
- Many sellers believe that an open house is used by their Realtor as just a way to find new clients. But while an agent may meet buyers who don't want to purchase your home, it doesn't mean that a buyer who will love your home won't come to the open house. In addition, everyone who does come to the open house knows other people who may be in the market for a house just like yours.
In the end, talk to your agent, who will be able to give you advice on a total marketing plan - with or without open houses!