Friday, July 20, 2007

Open Houses: are they worth it?

Most of our sellers have very strong opinions about open houses, ranging from "We'd like you to hold an open house every weekend to ensure maximum exposure." all the way to "Don't even think about holding an open house and letting strangers in.", and everything in between. Who's right? It depends.

Last year I sold a listing from an open house. A woman came in to see my listing, and 45 days later we closed escrow. Would she have bought the house anyway? Maybe. Maybe she would have called me from the For Sale sign in the yard. Or maybe she would have found the home online on Or maybe she would have eventually had another realtor show it to her. Who knows? But maybe it was one of those things where the planets line up and our home was available to see (and in show-ready condition) on the day she was ready to make a decision.

Two years ago I was out with some buyers looking at houses. We passed an open house that wasn't on our list, because it didn't match a couple of my clients' search criteria, but it looked great and they loved the neighborhood. Well, an hour later I had my laptop out and we were sitting at that home's kitchen table writing an offer!

On the other hand, I've held a number of open houses (too many to count) where nobody, or almost nobody, even showed up. I've also held open houses where so many people came through that I couldn't keep track of them, which made it very difficult to engage any of them in conversation. In addition, there are also possible safety concerns with holding an open house, which I've written about before.

So, are they worth it? Well, they're most likely a waste of time, especially in today's slower market where you're competing with dozens of other open houses. However, sometimes they work perfectly, and the home is sold that day. I think our goal should be to maximize every possible opportunity to reach potential buyers, and while I don't think holding an open house every weekend is a worthwhile endeavor, an occasional well-publicized open house might help increase our odds.

- Chris Butterworth