Are Open Houses Over?

by Sarah Richardson, Realtor
Story Real Estate, Homer
(907) 299-5909

For the past few weeks, I’ve been sitting in for Chris Story on his Radio Realty program. It’s been fun for me to do. It’s a fair bit of work to develop a weekly radio show on Real Estate – but it’s fun to bring my world to others.

Ever since I started filling in on Radio Realty, I’ve considered a segment about Open Houses. When we lived in New Zealand one of the houses we rented was for sale. On open house day, we would clean up and leave for hours only to come back and find a lone Realtor sitting at our kitchen table looking frustrated and bored with a full plate of cookie on our kitchen table. That Realtor tried multiple Open Houses and didn’t get a buyer from any of them. Made me wonder what business reason she had for doing them.

There have been a handful of Open Houses in Homer over the past couple of summers. One Realtor in town held an Open House in conjunction with a yard sale. I thought that was an innovative idea – but the house didn’t sell until long after the Open House suggesting that the buyer didn’t come from the event.

Watching houses on market that have held an Open House, I rarely see them sell after an Open House weekend. So why do we have them?

In some cases, our clients ask for them. In some cases, we use them to try and generate awareness for a listing that’s been on the market a while, and in some cases finding a buyer for a specific house is hard. It could be because the house has a more narrow pool of potential buyers, the price is off, or because sellers don’t have a lot of time to leave for multiple showings.

The argument against open houses is reasonable and one I often share with my clients. This biggest being that according to the National Association of Realtors research, the number of homes sold due to an open house is ridiculously low – 2%. Two!

So why have them? Open Houses are a good networking opportunity for a Realtor and even the act of advertising an open house gets people to take notice.

If that 2% statistic doesn’t dissuade you from an Open Hose, there are also a few other big drawbacks. Including:

  • Meet the Neighbors – People who show up are mostly neighbors or those stopping in to check our your decor, not to buy.
  • Buyers don’t buy at Open Houses – Active buyers almost always schedule time to see a home by themselves on their schedule, with their agent, and with a mortgage pre-approval in their hands.
  • Incredibly high potential for theft – almost anyone can tour an open houses and look for valuables and ways to break in. The potential for theft is huge both during and after an Open House.
  • It’s a Prospecting Tool, for your agent –  Many agents use open houses to meet new clients, it’s a legitimate way of prospecting for a Realtor but it won’t sell your house.

I think there are far safer and more effective ways to market a listing. However, if you’re going to hold an Open House, make it strategic. Advertise early and advertise where people go to look for ideas for weekend plans. Hold one before the first weekend a house is on market and for absolutely sure, make sure your Realtor isn’t alone in the house.

And don’t forget to secure your valuables and keep them out of sight or even better, off site. Because you don’t know who’s going to be walking through your house and why.

 

 

 

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