Open Houses are a common technique used to help sell real estate. Whether you are a buyer or a seller will determine how pertinent open houses are to you. It also depends on the market that you are in. In some markets, and listing prices, open houses are not considered, yet in others, they are an important part of the real estate process.
In my experience, and I think that of most real estate agents, open houses are not that effective in finding a buyer for your home. I’m not saying that you can’t find a buyer through an open house, but statistically, it is around 7% – again, depending on your market. Yet open houses are an integral part of selling real estate and should not be discounted, especially in today’s market where you want to do everything you can to find a buyer.
I am always agreeable to holding open houses if the seller expresses an interest for a few reasons. First and foremost, if the seller expresses a desire to have their house held open, I want them to know that I will do whatever it takes to help sell their property. I do, however, discuss with them to make sure they understand the pitfalls in having an open house (more on that later).
Secondly, open houses are a good (not a great way, but a good way) for real estate agents to come in contact with potential buyers who have not elicited the help of a real estate agent. Many times people who come to an open house are neighbors or people who just like to find decorating ideas. In my mind, that is OK. It doesn’t hurt to have a neighbor come in, look at a house, and then tell a co-worker what a great house they looked at in their neighborhood.
There are negative issues to consider if you are a seller, whether or not to have open houses. First of all is the fact that you need to vacate your home for a least a few hours on the given day. That may or may not be an issue for you, but it is something you want to consider. If you have kids, you need to be mindful of how that will disrupt their routine. Usually open houses only last about 2-4 hours.
It is critically important that sellers keep their house neat and clean to show the property in the best possible light. This may sound like a given, but I have looked at homes that were on the market and left in disarray and dirty. When that happens the potential buyers looking at your house are focusing on the cleanliness and not on buying your house.
Other, but potentially more serious considerations, is to be sure to safeguard any valuables left in the house. Any real estate agent will tell you that it is impossible to completely watch everyone who enters the house, especially if several people come at one time. Any and all, valuables should be removed from the property, locked up, or hidden somewhere that would make it at least more difficult for someone to find.
Some items you need to safeguard are jewelry, cash, credit cards, valuable collectibles and any prescription drugs that you may have in the house. To the best of my knowledge, these types of thefts are very rare, and I have never experienced any thefts, but the potential is there and sellers need to mindful of the risk.
If you have pets you should arrange to have them taken off the property. One of the worst nightmares I can relate too is an open house I was holding and when I went to go into the house, the cat, which the sellers assured me would stay hidden and not be a problem, darted out of the house! With the help of some neighbors, we were able to catch the cat, but the rest of the time I spent guarding the front door so “that darn cat” would not get out again. Remember, your pet may be friendly, but there will be strangers coming into the house that will undoubtedly upset the pets.
Real estate agents should have a visitors log available and ask visitors to sign in. This is for several reasons. The first reason is to be able to show the sellers that you did in fact have some traffic through the house and the potential for a buyer. It is very disheartening to hold an open house only to tell the sellers that no one came through. I remember in my younger years holding an open house on Super Bowl Sunday. It was well before the game, but no one, and I mean no one – showed up. Lesson learned!
Another reason for the visitors log is to enable the real estate agent to follow-up with potential buyers if the seller decides to reduce the price. And also, to enable the agent to possibly connect with potential buyers who are looking for a home, but not necessarily that home.
I alway get nervous if someone is hesitant to sign in or signs in with what appears to be a fictitious address, i.e. 123 Main Street.
Buyers, if you are seriously looking at the house, it is a good idea to have your real estate agent accompany you to the open house. That, however, is not always possible. If you are working with an agent, always identify to the agent at the open house that you have a contract with a real estate agent who represents you and give their name and contact information. I always give extra business cards to clients and tell them to simply give the card to any agent at an open house they may attend. Remember, the agent at the open house represents the seller – and not the buyer (at least at that point).
When I list a property I arrange to have a 24/7 open house. Now before you jump to conclusions convinced that I have lost it, let me explain. As a service to my clients, many times I arrange to have a virtual tour – not just pictures, but a video – of the property that will be available on-line 24/7. Hopefully that will eliminate, or at least reduce, the trauma of an open house. Statistics show that around 70% of clients would like to have a virtual tour of their house, yet only around 1% of agents provide this service, and I am happy to do it.
If you are considering selling your property, talk to a REALTOR® who can give you the facts of the market place conditions. Have a discussion with them about what services you feel are important and how they would handle those services. Ask them for recommendations and be sure to tell them what you expect. Being up front will go a long way in preventing disappointment.
As always, if I can help with any of your real estate needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me either by text or phone call at 615 417-8182 or email me at RolandLow1@gmail.com.