Op/Ed

Are open houses a waste of time? A contrary view to the contrarians

open house

Some say holding open houses during football season (or ever) is a waste of time, but that may not exactly be the case…

The conversation at the water cooler lately has been about open houses. Now that it is football season, what’s the point of the open house? Will anyone really show when the open house competes with a football game?

Real estate professionals are decidedly split as to whether it is a good idea to conduct an open house for their listings. Football season or not, it would seem to me that increased exposure of any property would only benefit home sellers and agents, not work against them. Additionally, that very same agent that holds the home open may actually meet buyers who want to buy something else—using that host of the open house as their agent. So, another real estate transaction closed… would that be such a bad thing?

Excuses for not holding an open house

Here are the most common excuses I’ve heard from agents not wanting to hold open houses:

  • The agent has too many listings, and is “too busy.”
  • There is too much competing inventory, so no one will show.
  • The home is in a tract, and all the homes are quite similar.
  • People don’t visit open houses when the weather is bad.
  • People don’t visit open houses during football season or the summer (or whatever).
  • The home is not in good condition or is too messy.
  • The home is not located near a main thoroughfare.
  • The agent isn’t interested in changing his or her schedule to accommodate the open house.

Hold a successful open house

The truth is that agents can hold successful open houses, and it is not that difficult to do. Here are several tips that will help make your open house more successful:

  • Utilize online advertising (Facebook, Craigslist, and even your local MLS, if applicable).
  • Create a map of the area and identify placement of your signs prior to the date of your open house.
  • Use lots and lots of signs (with arrows)—more than you believe to be necessary.
  • Attach eye catchers, such as balloons or flags, to your signs.
  • Make sure that he home is light and bright. Open curtains and turn on the lights in all rooms. (It would help, of course, if the home was clean and free from clutter, but that is not always necessary.)
  • Turn on background music and put the football game on the television, if applicable.
  • Make a station with a signup sheet (there’s an app for that, too) as well as flyers and local area information among other things.
  • Serve snacks or refreshments.
  • Talk to people. Compliment them and engage them in conversation—not just about the house, but also about anything that they’d like to discuss.

One highly motivated and relatively new agent in my office has made the open house part of her weekly business plan. When she joined our brokerage two months ago, she was working with one buyer. Now she has nearly 15—all in different stages of the homebuying process, and all of them were folks that she met at open houses.

You too can have success with open houses. Aside from all of the suggestions listed, they key is to show up, be motivated, and make the open a regular part of your business plan.

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