Uncovering the Truth About Open Houses

Do open houses really work? That is the age-old question. With expert knowledge anyone from real estate agents to home buyers can find success at an open house.

Just about everyone who is selling a home has an open house. It seems to be a given. But is it? What can you really expect from hosting one yourself? Do open houses really do an effective job at selling your home? Springtime happens to be the most popular season for open houses, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sharing your home with potential buyers at an open house as well as a few tips to make it a success.

Who Comes to Open Houses?

It is always important to have your open-house guests sign in before they traipse through your well-staged and immaculate home. Generally speaking, open-house guests fall into the following categories:

Buyers: Hopefully these guests will come with their Realtor® who has helped them narrow their search to the most likely candidates.

Real Estate Professionals: Sometimes Real Estate Professionals use open houses to screen potential listings for their clients and will schedule showings once they’ve honed in on the best choices.

Other Sellers: Your competition may pay a visit – other people in the area who are trying to sell their home or are planning to sell in the near future. They want to compare first-hand what else is for sale in their area and for how much.

Old time photo of two men talking
Nosey Neighbors: The open house sign goes up and these neighbors are alerted like bloodhounds on a scent. It’s the “Mrs. Kravitz” syndrome. (If you are too young to remember, Mrs. Kravitz was always peeking through her blinds at the Steven’s house; Google it). Some people just love to get into other people’s business and an open house is their chance to snoop.

Looky Lou’s: This is free entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. Many people explore different towns and neighborhoods as if it were a home show, with no intention of buying.

Champagne Dreamers: There are those of us with “champagne dreams” on a “beer budget.” Sometimes people who are looking to buy a home like to take a gander at homes that are above their current budget. Who doesn’t like to dream a little?

Designers: Professional and amateur interior designers love to get ideas from open houses. It’s a nice compliment. But most people would prefer to have an offer.

How Many Houses Sell Directly From an Open House?

Considering the assortment of personalities visiting your open house, how many visits do you think actually result in a sale? Surveys by the National Association of Realtors® show that 41% of buyers attend open houses but less than 5% purchase a home through an open house.

Open houses, though, are part of the value you get from having a Realtor® list your home. It is their chance to network and show they are on the case for you. They also benefit from meeting new potential clients. You can discuss the pros and cons and decide if a public open house is right for you. It is not a must for everyone. There are other options, too, such as a broker’s open house.

What is a Broker’s Open House?

This is where your listing agent invites other Real Estate Professionals from a variety of companies in the area to view your home at a specific time and date. Sometimes there is coffee, snacks or other incentives for stopping by. This is a great way to expose your listing to the pros who then may share it with their network of potential buyers. They also might provide feedback that could help with the way you present your home.

Couple looking at house on iPad

What About Virtual Tours?

One would think that with the photos, videos and virtual tours you can experience online, open houses would become less important. It is true that virtual viewing may weed out some of the less-productive inquiries. Many Real Estate Professionals put the link to the virtual tour on the sign in front of the house.

But this isn’t a perfect replacement for an open house. Serious buyers love to see houses in person, and they start the process more informed than ever thanks to online tools.That way, more qualified and interested buyers come see your property.

Woman playing piano

Creative Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Open House

Be sure to have plenty of well-crafted handouts and information for guests to walk away with. Often people are seeing several homes in a day, so give them something tangible to refer to at the end of their tour when properties might be getting muddled in their minds. You can also make your home memorable in other ways, whether you are hosting an open house for the public or the pros. Talk to your agent about some creative ways to drive traffic, such as:

• Offer a drawing for an online restaurant certificate for guests who leave their email address.
• Serve cookies and coffee.
• Create a coloring page of your house (done simply by tracing a photo) and give to the children of potential buyers with a small packet of crayons. Be sure to put the home’s address on the page.
• If you have a piano, hire someone to play soft music during the open house.
• Attach a Sellers’ Home Warranty Plan from American Home Shield® and feature it on your listing sheets. For more information, visit AHS Real Estate.

Open houses might not be the “be all and end all” of marketing your home. But they do serve a unique purpose once you know what to expect.


Next > A Successful Open House in 4 Steps

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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