I was recently asked by a "non real estate" business colleague what the real scoop is on Open Houses – she wanted both sides of the Open House coin.   She was curious about whether or not they were just promotional events for the listing agent or if they really work.  Since I have done hundreds of them over the years,  I was only too happy to elaborate on the subject.  I shared the following with her.

Many years ago, one of the very seasoned agents in our office did a survey.  She asked 24 full time agents how long they had been in the business (287 total years), how many open houses they each held open in a year (12.5), how many of the listings sold as a direct result of holding that house open (31), and the number of listings which sold as a direct result of someone else holding a competing house open (5).  After gathering and averaging the results, this is what she discovered: 

Out of 287 years collective experience between the 24 agents x 12.5 annual open houses average per agent resulted in 3,587.5 Open Houses held to sell 31 properties.  It took an average of 115 Open Houses for each home that sold as a result of this type of marketing.

One might look at the results of that informal survey and deduce that Open Houses are a waste of time; surely there are better ways to expose a home that is on the market for sale.  However, even in light of that very "scientific" study back then, I still am one of those old fashioned agents who really do like to do them!

I happen to enjoy meeting the neighbors and all the folks that visit Open Houses to get decorating ideas, check out the floor plan and are just plain nosey.  It is a great way to network and stay abreast of all the community rumors.  I am one who is energized by other people so having an Open House can prove to be quite stimulating and fun.  I go into the afternoon with no expectation that I will sell the home – even though that is the goal and I work diligently toward that end by showcasing the property in its most favorable light and following up after the fact with those that have stopped by.  Without grandiose expectations one cannot be drastically disappointed but may be wildly excited about linking up with an incredibly interesting person.

Many sellers want and expect agents to hold their home open to the public because it will often bring traffic and feedback that may have been lacking during the time on the market. Sellers are eager to have their homes admired and an Open House on a Sunday afternoon is just the ticket.  By cleaning up one time and getting out of the house for a few hours, there is a potential to have many showings with only one major inconvenience.  Sellers like this particular aspect of Open Houses.  My sellers will realize that the likelihood of a sale as a result of the Open House is quite small but are ever hopeful that they will be the exception to the rule.

The truth is that Open Houses can benefit all.  Sellers benefit by having exposure to people who might not see the home otherwise and who can share the benefits of the property with others who are in the market for a home.  Prospective buyers benefit from the opportunity to visit a property unencumbered by an agent with time constraints.  It also allows for comparison shopping throughout the market that will ultimately enable the buyers to make a faster or smarter home buying decision.  The neighbors benefit by being able to stay on top of the market trends in their community.  And, last but not least, Agents benefit by the contacts that are made with the visitors; they are wonderful networking opportunities and, if handled correctly, can lead to future business long after the open house has ended. 

In summary, if an agent believes an Open House will be a waste of time, it probably will be.  But, if the positive approach is employed in preparation and execution of the event, the end result can be surprisingly fruitful!