Many Realtors have mixed feelings on the effectiveness of open houses, and you’ll hear varying answers as to whether they should be utilized in marketing a home.

Some Realtors have grown tired of sitting an open house only to waste the afternoon away with no lookers or interest from anyone.  Other open houses are filled with prospects and it indeed helps sell that home, and maybe a few more in the area.  So what factors influence whether an open house will be successful or not?

Open House Weekend

Advertising an open house definitely helps.  Several weekends we’ve found agents with competing homes in neighborhoods we market open up the paper to see where the open houses were, then abruptly put up signs pointing buyers to their open house hoping to pick off a stray buyer and sell their listing.

The problem with this strategy is indeed the competing home may be located in the same area, but may not be posses the features in the ad that drew them to the open house to begin with.  Some agents promise open houses every weekend because they’re on a shoe-string budget and they win by either attracting a nosy neighbor who may be interested in selling their home, or picking up buyers who may not be qualified for the open house, but qualify to buy something else.  Either way the agent drums up business for free by using the seller’s home as a store-front to attract buyers.

We believe an open house can be an effective tool, but shouldn’t be used as the primary tool.  It’s simply an additional tool, and it may not be right in all instances.  For instance, if the seller is located in a gated community and the HOA doesn’t provide easy access on the scheduled open house day, getting buyers to the home can be difficult.

Open houses are a time when you’re showing the home to absolutely anyone and you’re never sure how qualified the person walking through the door is, or what their intentions are.  If a home has a lot of valuables or small personal items, it may not be wise to hold that home open.

We find that buyers just want to see the homes and get a feel for the market.  Online buyers want access to the listings first.  Agents can provide open houses via online virtual tours, and this can be especially helpful for rural properties, gated communities, or homes with lots of knick knacks.

If you’re going to do an open house, buyers generally want it to be worth their time, so holding several at once can be a tool to get buyers off the couch and out looking.  The buyer never knows which open house will capture their interest, but if there are several to look at, perhaps one will and it becomes worth their time.  It’s the same concept as builders doing a Parade or Homes.

We have a tour of 6 homes scheduled for this weekend, and we find that when we do multiple homes traffic at each home increases significantly versus holding just one home open. A list of homes we have on tour this weekend can be found at Topagent.com

All buyers want to see the goods (Listings) but some want to meet the Realtor and just get a comfort feeling on which agent might be good to deal with.  Buyers sizing up agents at open houses make decisions not only on the particular home, but on a possible agent to work with in the home buying process.

You can choose to open your home up, and doing so may produce mixed results.  Advertising helps, and having an independent 3rd party there to show your home really pays off.  Buyers rarely tell the owner what’s really on their mind as they don’t wish to offend, but finding this information out is critical to a sale.  Buyers will tell an agent things they would never tell the owner.  Too many times we’ve seen owners hold out hope for a sale because the buyers said how much they loved the home, when in reality they bought another and had little to no interest.  Or worse, sellers have refused to work with an offer because they felt a better offer was coming because they met the buyers and heard nothing but wonderful things about their home at the open house.  Sellers feel strung along when that offer never comes when the buyer seemed to rave about the home.

Open houses are not the end all marketing strategy, but if used in conjunction with an overall pricing, marketing, and sales strategy can be an effective additional tool and should be weighed with benefits and risks to ascertain whether it should be utilized in the sale of the home.

Discuss with your listing agent the pros and cons of holding an open house and with some planning and a little luck, it just might help you sell your home or find your dream home.

View our latest video SW Florida Real Estate Market Update-Foreclosures-October 2010

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