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The False Hope of an Open House

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July 14, 2017 in Business


You spend all morning, cleaning up the house, packing the kids into the car, rounding up the family dog and taking off for a few hours so your REALTOR can have an open house. This is it!! We will sell it now!

After a few weeks of going through this routine it gets tiring. It is a lot of work to get ready for your weekly open houses. But you are convinced it an open house will sell your house. Why not you get a couple people coming thru every week when you have had no showings all week long.

Technology is Making Open Houses Obsolete

The internet gives home buyers access to all the homes available instantaneously. Most homes are readily available for home buyers to view within 15 minutes of being upload to your local MLS. Buyers are not reliant on their agent to find every new home for them.

Now add the advances of digital photography. Between cameras and editing software the real estate photography of a home online can be outstanding. What used to take professional photographers days to accomplish can be done in a few hours. The level of quality has increased 100 fold over 20 years ago.

Take it even further, you now have mapping technology where you can instantly see the neighborhood, aerial views and nearby amenities.

A buyer no longer need to leave their home to get a sense of your home.

Open Houses Are Not Necessary

There are now many agents who feel open houses are not necessary to sell your home. For good reason – a significant amount of homes never have an open house. What many homeowners don’t realize is an open house can create a security risk with anybody having access to your home. Anyone can walk through your door and many don’t belong. A large percentage of real estate agents never mention this fact to their clients.

So why do some agents insist on open houses? First an open house is a great way for an agent to market themselves having access to home buyers and sellers at your open house. Real Estate agents love the opportunity to prospect for business – shake hands and be sociable.

Secondly an open house shows activity. It shows you the agent is trying to sell your house and yes of course this is where a few people will come thru your door even when you are not getting private showings. The fact of the matter however, is that open houses don’t sell homes.

This is Where An Open House Creates False Hope

An experienced listing agent will pawn off open houses on eager, new agents because they know the effort of open houses provides weak results. Statistically less than 2-3% of homes are sold because of an open house. That’s a lot of time spent for the agent preparing, advertising and sitting at an open house and a lot of time for the home seller to prepare for the open house for less than stellar results.

Don’t forget your very serious buyers are working with agents scheduling private showings of homes that interest them. They are not going to want to wait for an open house. Plus, they want the time to review the home with their buyer’s agent unhindered by another agent or other buyers. The private showings are what counts not the open house visitors.

What agents fail to tell home sellers is who is really showing up at the open houses. Mostly unqualified buyers. An unqualified buyer is someone who is not prepared to close on your home in the next 30-90 days.

A recent open house for Haverhill MA listing had a variety of unqualified buyers come thru. Who were they?

  • The never ending researcher who will never buy “I won’t be ready to buy for a couple of years but I wanted to see what is out there.” Seriously? the market is going to be totally different in 2 years!!
  • The nosey neighbor “Oh I am just the neighbor, I wanted to see what they did with their kitchen.” Great neighbor, you must have known them well.
  • The bored couple killing time “We aren’t buying, we already have a house, but we were driving around and wanted to take a looksey.” I am glad we can provide you with some Sunday afternoon entertainment. Step away from the fresh baked cookies please, I am saving them for the real buyers.
  • The Creeper The lurker who skulks in avoids talking to you and refuses to sign in. Ok, not sure what that is all about…. That’s just creepy I will have to keep a close eye on them.
  • The overbearing parent who son doesn’t want to live anywhere near her “My son is looking so I thought I would take a peak” So if your son is interested, where is he?
  • The unqualified buyer “We were at another open house and saw the sign, we love it how much is it?” Of course you love it, it is $75,000 over what your price range!

So I am making light of it but there is not an agent in the world that isn’t chuckling right now, this is what we see and hear all the time at open houses.

Like I said anybody can walk thru your door at an open house. Give me a private showing over any 10 open house visitors anytime. Why?

No agent is going to shuttle around a buyer that is not pre-approved and ready to buy. They are qualified by the buyer’s agent. They have a bank approval in hand and they have had discussion with the buyer to determine how serious they are about buying.

End of the Day Disappointment

You get in after killing a few hours with the kids exhausted from cleaning up and having to leave. But, of course, this could be it. You call your agent hoping that this was the day. Nope, 8 people came thru but no offers, lets schedule an open house for next weekend!!

This is the classic story of the seller who believed their real estate agent that an open house was necessary. One of these days more people are going to figure out the reasons why Realtors hold open houses. Once they do there will be a lot less open house signs floating around the neighborhood.

It’s time to wake up and realize that open houses are an archaic form of marketing in the digital age. Pass on the open house and you won’t miss a beat.

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