Despite the time-honored tradition of opening the doors and welcoming prospective buyers in, there’s a debate among real estate agents about the value of open houses in the Internet age. However, many still insist that hosting an open house can entice buyers who may not have otherwise stopped by.
Here, we go through the pros and cons of hosting an open house.
Oftentimes, potential homebuyers are confused or overwhelmed at where to start when it comes to buying a home. For these types of shoppers, seeing the open house sign on the corner – balloons and all – might entice them to stop by when they otherwise may not have paid much attention to your listing. You can certainly get tips about how to market and sell your home to the unexpected prospective viewers from your real estate agent.
The house may not necessarily be sold at the open house: While you may hope that open houses will help sell your house fast, the majority of homes are sold after a private viewing, to a serious and qualified buyer who is willing to go through the extra steps of making an appointment with the listing agent for a tour. The crowd that an open house attracts, typically, is less serious about buying your home, and are far less likely to have been pre-qualified.
With the demands of today’s workplaces, many people can’t take a lot of time off at random times during the week to schedule a tour of a home. While an open house might not be the average time to sell a house, it is the best time for people to see your house because you can schedule them at off-peak hours. By hosting an open house, usually on a weekend, it allows them the freedom to stop by when they have the time. It also satisfies the need for instant gratification that a lot of people have: they see a home for sale and want to see the interior, NOW.
Letting anybody who wanders by on the street into your home leaves your house vulnerable to theft. If an open house attracts a lot of traffic – which is, after all, the goal – then the agent isn’t possibly able to keep his or her eye on every person who stops by. As a result, there have been instances of homeowners being robbed by strangers who were welcomed into their home during an open house.
That said, there are precautions that you can take to minimize the risk of theft: Remove all prescription drugs and small valuables from the house (it’s unlikely that a thief will walk out with your 50-inch flatscreen, but possible that they lift a diamond tennis bracelet from the jewelry box) and have the agent do a security check of the home before they leave, making sure that all doors and windows are closed and locked.
For buyers who are simply looking to upgrade but like the area where they live, an open house is the perfect opportunity to scope out a potential property that’s close to home. If the people stopping by are local, they don’t have to be sold on the neighborhood the way an outsider may have to, which puts them further down the sales pipeline than someone who hasn’t decided on a preferred area.
An open house is an open invitation to lookey-loos who just want to get a peek at how you live – and that includes your nosey neighbors. Depending on how private you are, the idea of your neighbors walking through your house and scrutinizing the décor – not to mention any personal items or photographs you may leave in plain sight – might not be worth the potential sale.
Ultimately, the decision to hold an open house comes down to a homeowner’s comfort level. If you decide to hold an open house, talk to your real estate agent about how they are marketing the event, what you should do to stage your house to sell, and how to maintain the security and privacy of your home while also welcoming a parade of strangers to march through your property.