open house sign

There's an ongoing debate in the real estate community about whether open houses actually help to sell a home. Many agents say they're a waste of time because, according to research, a relatively small percentage of homes sell because of the open house; they contend that the only real benefit is to the real estate agent who is holding the open house, because she can pick up new buyer clients there.

Many homeowners like open houses because they seem to be the most tangible thing their real estate agent can do to market their home.

Other homeowners reject open houses, either for security reasons or because they don't want the hassle of spending their Sunday morning cleaning the house and then disappearing for the afternoon. Besides, they say, if someone wants to see my house, they will have their real estate agent make an appointment.

So, if you are trying to sell your home, does it make sense to have your agent hold open houses for the public?

Here are six reasons why you might want to consider having your house open to the public at least once or twice:


1. Agent Exposure:

Assuming you have already had a broker's open, you probably had, at most 30-40 agents come through the house. That's a small percentage of the total number of agents in your market so there are still many agents and brokers who have not seen your home yet. And often agents are unwilling to take their clients to see a home they themselves have not viewed first. Public open houses give agents another opportunity to see the inventory.

2. Unrepresented Buyers:

The Internet has changed the way home buyers approach the process of finding a new home. Today's buyers can look at homes online without the help of an agent. They tend to want to remain anonymous throughout the majority of the home search process. They view new listings online, visit Sunday open houses, and try to familiarize themselves with communities and neighborhoods they are interested in on their own. They usually do not hire an agent until they are quite far along in the process. The thing is, however, that often buyers will fall in love with a house and want to put in an offer even though they were not planning to buy quite yet. Also, because they will often visit an open house even when they don't think that particular house is for them, you may attract a buyer who otherwise wouldn't have bothered to make an appointment to see your home.

3. Challenged Location:

If you have a challenged location (e.g. your home is on a busy street), even if your price takes that into account, agents will often avoid showing their buyers the house. They are filtering the listings and making the decision in advance that their clients would not want to live on a busy street, when it's possible that the buyers would like the house if they saw it. Case in point: we had a listing on the busiest street in Wilmette. The owners were adamant that they did not want open houses because it was just too much of a hassle for them. It was a lovely little house, well-priced and in good condition. But in the first two weeks on the market we only had three showings. The owners really did want to move, so they relented and said we could hold one Sunday open house. We had eleven groups through in two hours and one of them made an offer that evening.

Having an open house is sometimes the only way to get buyers inside so they can appreciate all of the wonderful things your home has to offer.

4. Emotional Connection:

A corollary to the point above: sometimes, no matter how great the MLS photos are, they can't adequately represent how great the house is. And even if they can, photos can never replace the emotional connection people feel being in the house: walking through it and envisioning what it would be like to actually live here, where they would put their furniture, which bedrooms each member of the family would have, how the floor plan would work for entertaining, etc. You want the buyer to "mentally move into" your home. The only way they can do that is to visit in person.

5. Efficiently Show Your House:

If your house has just come on the market, a Sunday open house can be an efficient way to get a lot of buyers through it in a two hour window, rather than having appointments spread out over a couple of days. Those who make an appointment to come back and see it after the open house are going to be the serious buyers. They have seen everything that's on the market and are ready to act.

6. Create a Sense of Urgency:

Another reason to hold an open if your house has just gone on the market is that you will attract a lot of buyers to the first open house. Many of these are buyers who have seen all the other houses out there and are just waiting for the one. If there are a lot of potentially competing buyers looking at the house at the same time they are, as happens at an open house, it creates a sense of urgency to act. It's human nature to want something more when you know other people want it too. If you think someone else might make an offer on the house, you suddenly feel a greater sense of urgency to make an offer to beat them out.

Would you like a market snapshot of homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood? You can get it here.

If you would like to schedule a seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore Team, please give us a call at 847.881.6657 or send us a note here. We'd love to show you what we do differently to get our clients' homes sold!