“are open houses good or bad”
Sometimes, just getting the listing agreement signed and price agreed-upon seems like the end of an intense, effortful, laborious process. But as you well know, it’s really just the beginning of helping your new seller through all of the twists and turns of selling a home.
In the course of working through these items with internet-savvy sellers, agents may run into increasingly vocal, surprisingly strong opinions on a seemingly innocuous topic: Open Houses. Camps are divided pretty neatly between sellers who think that open houses are a total waste of time and those who think that open houses are the go-to way to getting a home sold at top dollar and in record time.
Inquiring sellers want to know, which is it: a waste of time or time well-spent? If you want your sellers to come out of this question on the side of “time well-spent,” here are a handful of talking points and scripts about open houses you can use.
1. There are different types of open houses, and type matters.
There are two basic types of open houses, a Broker’s open house and a public open house. Public open houses are the traditional Sunday afternoon affairs where local buyers, neighbors and looky-loos alike peruse your property.
Broker’s opens are held for the benefit of the real estate brokers and agents in town, who can stop by one-by-one or may visit in groups or caravans. Most often, listing agents will hold the Broker’s open house on the day of the week that brokers usually tour the neighborhood, and will try to time it very soon after the home goes on the market—before the public open house.
Over 90 percent of qualified buyers will start their house hunt online, so it’s essential to make sure your home is well-marketed, digitally speaking. But over 80 percent of qualified buyers will ultimately work with an agent or broker, so sellers can’t afford to miss them, either!
Broker’s opens are an efficient way to expose a home in its best light to a large number of brokers who are on the lookout for their buyer clients at one moment in time, early in the life of your home’s listing. They also create a rich opportunity for local brokers to see the home in close succession to similar, nearby listings—so if the home is well-prepared, well-staged, and well-priced against the competition, Broker’s opens make that very clear.
On the flip side, if the home is staged, marketed or priced in a way that puts it at a competitive disadvantage, local brokers and agents will often give the listing agent that feedback during the Brokers’ open—giving the seller the opportunity to course-correct or put some final touches on the home’s staging before most buyers see it.
Verdict: Broker’s Open Houses = Time Well Spent.
2. The role of the open house has shifted.
To maximize their chances of successfully finding a property that meets their needs, today’s buyers have to see a lot of houses—and they have to get out and view properties as soon as possible after they come onto the market.
At the same time, though, buyers live busy lives, and so do their agents, which makes the prospect of making an individual appointment to see every listing that comes on the market daunting. If a buyer views 30 or 40 properties before they buy, imagine how many individual appointments that is to wrangle! One strategy many smart buyers and buyer’s agents are adopting is to keep a standing appointment every Sunday afternoon during the time homes are normally held open and view as many properties as possible in one fell-swoop.
Open houses aren’t just to help early-stage buyers discover listings anymore, they serve as a convenient way for serious buyers to access and view them, too.
Verdict: Time well-spent.
3. Few homes are actually “sold” at the open house, but occasionally one is.
No doubt, open houses take a lot of time and energy to prepare for, and sellers don’t want to do all that work, have a well-attended Open House and end the week with no offers.
But think about this: A listing only needs one buyer. Ask your seller if the inconvenience of having to clear out for a couple of afternoons worth missing the potential opportunity to find your home’s ultimate buyer.
They won’t want to miss the opportunity.
Also, there of course other ways open houses can indirectly lead to a sale. Buyers use homes not just to discover new listings, but to actually access and view homes they’ve seen online. And sure, those neighbors that may seem like looky-loos might be curious about the home decor choices, but they also might have friends, colleagues or relatives who’d be interested in buying the home.
Verdict: Could go either way, but the chances the time is well-spent are greater than they seem at first glance.
4. Prepping for an open house is time well-spent no matter its outcome.
The truth is, the time a seller will need to invest in sprucing and primping the home to prepare for an open house is not much greater than the time they would ideally invest in doing these things to put the home on the market even if they weren’t holding it open!
Setting a time and date for an open house and marketing it widely is a powerful “forcing factor.” It provides both a hard deadline for property preparation efforts and sets a higher bar for the prepping and staging of a home than a seller might set otherwise.