Do Open Houses Sell Homes? Why They’re Still the Best Way to Showcase Your House

Do Open Houses Sell Homes? Why They’re Still the Best Way to Showcase Your House

Believe it or not, most realtors still encourage open houses. Far from being obsolete, they can be a great way to showcase a home when they’re managed by a competent real estate professional.

To understand why that’s the case, it helps to understand the psychology of how people buy houses, even with today’s modern technology.

Does the Internet Replace the Need for an Open House?

Once upon a time, open houses were a go-to strategy to sell your home. Prospective buyers would scour the Sunday paper, circling properties to view. There wasn’t much to go on but a brief description. If there was a photo, it was often tiny, grainy, and black and white.

Obviously, a lot has changed, thanks to the internet. Buyers are now equipped with detailed listings that include photos and videos. Add to that online digital mapping, and they can even “tour” the neighborhood without leaving home. 

Thanks to these tools for real estate shopping, sellers might think there’s no need for an open house. After all, potential buyers can see all the great things your home has to offer. They can do a virtual walk-through. Then, if your house checks all of their “must-have” boxes, they will call their real estate agent to make an appointment to see it in person.

All of this has sparked debate about whether or not open houses sell homes, or if they are just a waste of time.

But you can’t ignore human nature. Not only do people want to see the property for themselves, they want it to be easy. It’s a lot more convenient to hit several open houses on a weekend, rather than coordinating their schedule with a realtor. At an open house, they can “kick the tires,” so to speak—at their own pace, and without feeling pressured. 

Good Reasons to Have an Open House

Very few people are comfortable buying such a large asset sight-unseen. Even if someone has seen detailed photos, they’ll want to see the property for themselves. They need to assess whether they can picture themselves living in the home. 

Open houses give potential buyers a low-pressure way to judge for themselves whether it’s a good fit. You could very well see some of these results too:

  • Location. Location. Location. Every city has desirable areas where people aspire to live. It’s common for potential buyers to drive through those neighborhoods, looking for their dream home. If they see a sign for an open house, they’ll almost certainly stop in.
  • What’s the buzz? A well-attended open house is sure to create interest and even urgency in potential buyers. Seeing a lot of cars and people will raise their curiosity and draw them in for a look.
  • Multiple offers. When several interested parties attend an open house, it could prompt a bidding war, giving the seller several good offers to choose from.
  • New to the market. Open houses can capture the attention of buyers who might not be working with an agent yet.
  • Valuable feedback. An agent will hear the first-hand impressions of the property from several people in one afternoon. They can relay that feedback to the seller. Learning the good, the bad, and the ugly from the public can result in a helpful “to-do” list to make the home more attractive.

An Unexpected Side-Benefit of an Open House

Let’s face it: Getting a house ready to go on the market is a lot of work. Not only must you invest time and money in repairs, freshening up the paint, and sprucing up the exterior, there’s also all that decluttering to do. To show a house to its best potential, unnecessary junk needs to disappear.

If you decide to have an open house, this prep work needs to go to a whole other level. People are going to be opening bedroom closets, looking in kitchen cabinets, and checking out bathroom drawers. 

No one thinks this type of cleaning is fun. But if the looming deadline of an open house in the future is what it takes to get someone motivated to do it—It’s not the best reason to have an open house, but it works.

Why Open Houses Get a Bad Rep

The goal of your open house is to sell your home. So why is there any debate about whether or not to have one?

Sellers are often turned off when they go through all the work of an open house but don’t see offers rolling in the next day. Here’s the truth: Not everyone who shows up to an open house will be ready, or even able, to buy. But a good real estate agent will be able to spot the seriously interested in the crowd. And they will be prepared to deal effectively with some of the less promising visitors: 

  • Just curious. Be prepared for a few neighbors to show up at your open house just to look around. Some people may just be looking for a way to fill up a boring Sunday afternoon. None of these folks mean any harm, and the more people who show up, the greater the “buzz.”  
  • Not ready. Open houses are great for buyers who have just started looking or aren’t sure what they want. They can browse a number of areas and types of houses without any commitment or pressure. These people aren’t necessarily wasting your time. If they fall in love with your home, it could advance their buying timeline. 
  • Ready, but indecisive. Some people desperately want to find a house, but they aren’t ready to pick one yet. These folks will look at dozens upon dozens of homes before they make up their mind. Keep in mind that the perfect place is out there for them somewhere. Your home may turn out to be “the one.”
  • Unqualified. Open houses can attract those who would like to buy but who can’t yet qualify for a home loan. These are often young people who dream of homeownership but aren’t sure if they can afford it yet. Your agent might be able to use their relationship with lenders to help them with financing. 
  • Bad guys. When you have a public open house, you are essentially inviting anyone and everyone to walk through your home. Many people fear that something could be stolen. Real estate agents take precautions to ensure that your home and belongings stay safe. They can explain their methods of reducing the risk.

Things to Do Instead of an Open House

Open houses are a long-standing strategy used by almost every realtor. For sellers who really dislike the idea, there are a few alternative strategies that can work well.

Opt for a Broker’s Open House

You can have an open house that isn’t open to the public. Your real estate agent can organize a broker’s open house instead. The only people coming to view your property will be other real estate agents. 

This is a more comfortable option for most people, as it eliminates having a parade of strangers off the street roaming the halls. And once the agents have seen your home, they are better able to sell its favorable qualities to their clients.

Try a Deferred Showing

A deferred showing is a strategy that can increase interest in your property without having an open house. Here’s how it works: You list your house and have it appear in the MLS (multiple listing service). But you hold off accepting appointments to show it for several days or a week. Then, make all of the appointments on one or two days.

This has several benefits for the seller. First, lumping all showings into one window of time gives sellers the convenience of an open house. They only need to get kids and dog out of the house for one day instead of for numerous randomly scheduled showings. 

Second, it creates a buzz about the house. Potential buyers will have to wait to see it, and those who are just curious may lose interest. Those willing to wait may then have to compete for a time on the realtor’s schedule. This scenario positions your home as a desirable property that’s in demand. It’s not unheard of to get multiple offers with this strategy.

The Right Agent is More Important Than an Open House

To sell your home, you need to find the right real estate agent. (Read our article “Follow These 3 Steps to Find a Real Estate Agent” to know what to look for.) 

Find out how they plan to market your home. The most successful agents employ several different strategies to find interested parties. Make sure they have a good track record and are using methods that will attract the most promising group of buyers. 

Find out your agent’s thoughts on open houses. Remember that even if you have an open house, relying on only one way to market your home will severely limit its exposure. So make sure they’re ready to use other strategies too, like high-quality photos, video, and social media.

Contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. We’ll help you decide if there’s any benefit in having an open house. We’ll find the best strategy to sell your home, without wasting your time on things that don’t work.

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