Is an open house really necessary when selling a home?
As a seller, you are probably screaming HECK YEAH I WANT AN OPEN HOUSE—AND I WANT IT NOW...right?
But, trust me, you don't—YOU REALLY, REALLY DON'T and HERE'S WHY...
If you think not having an open house while you are trying to sell a home is just plain crazy, you are not alone. Besides, you have perhaps sold a home or two in your day and might have even sold your house because of an open house...right?
Yep! You're right...but that was then and this is now and there's a big difference.
As you know time marches on and things change, sometimes very quickly. Physical legwork used to be the only way to buy a house, but that is no longer the case. Enter the age of the internet. The internet has changed the way we do just about everything. Remember phone books, aka the white pages and yellow pages? You know, those (sometimes very large depending on where you lived) paperback books that were delivered right to your doorstep every year without fail?
How many of you still use a phone book to look up someone's phone number? How many of you even know what a phone book is or what it looks like?
The bottom line is that while the internet has changed the way we do things, it has also changed the way we buy houses now too. That means what we used to think worked for selling a house to millenials we now know better because we have options, much better options. Just like phone books...having an open house is a thing of the past and for good reason.
Let's take a look at why the old tired method of selling a home doesn't work and the one reason you as a seller should NEVER consider having an open house—EVER!
And, yes, I mean N-E-V-E-R!
OK...walk with me and let's step into the 21st century together and leave the past behind!
Are you ready?
Having an open house used to be a common practice. However, the real estate industry has changed and so have buyers and sellers. Therefore, having an open house is a marketing tactic that used to sound like a good idea because it was one of the few ideas a real estate agent had to use, but in reality, it really wasn't all that effective. It was just a matter of doing something was always better than doing nothing when it came to marketing a home. Fortunately, now, that has all changed—for the better!
That doesn't make any sense! Of course an open house is for sellers, they are the ones who are trying to sell their home.
Not so fast...
What you probably don't know and most real estate agents will never tell you is that the sole purpose of having an open house isn't to sell your house, although sometimes (but not usually) it does work out that way, is that an open house is to help the sponsoring real estate agent get leads. They do this because most people who stop by an open house aren't always actively looking to buy, they are just thinking about it. That means those "lookers" who are just thinking about buying a home don't usually have a real estate agent yet. So that provides the sponsoring real estate agent with some hot leads for now and the future—when that "looker" is ready to get serious about buying a home. The beauty of this is that a looker will remember how helpful that real estate agent they met at an open house was, and they pull out that agent's business card and voilà, a new buyer from old efforts—mission accomplished, at the seller's expense.
I will bet no one ever never told you that!
Another good reason not to have an open house is that the majority of people who visit are just nosy neighbors who want to see what you have and how you live. You will then be the talk of the neighborhood, probably over something you never even gave a second thought to such as your choice of decor, etc.
There are also people who visit open houses for other reasons. For example, many people visit open houses for the free food. If you think about it, anyone could potentially get a free meal every day of their life just by visiting an open house. Then there are those who like to walk through open houses to get decorating, design, and remodeling ideas—and they eat your food too!
Do you really want all those people who aren't really in the market for a house tromping through your home, tracking in dirt, and who knows what else?
I didn't think so!
There are some buyers who are out looking at open houses hoping to fall in love with one of them. The problem is that if they were truly serious, their real estate agent would have already shown them suitable homes without them having to waste their time by driving all over town.
Another problem with some buyers who visit an open house is that not all of them will be qualified to buy a home. In fact, some of them probably have no idea what all is involved and aren't prepared in any way to do so. If a buyer is serious about buying a home, they will have already gone through the pre-approval process and know exactly how much they are qualified to borrow. And again, their real estate agent would have already shown them suitable houses according to their wants, needs, and budget and not sent them blindly around town visiting open houses.
When planning an open house, many people plan it just like they would any other event with great food and plenty of drinks and other refreshments. But, this costs money, and as we mentioned above, if all you're getting for your efforts is mostly "lookie loos," what are you really spending all that time and money on? Yep! Not much. Because the return on your investment for that open house is likely to be near zero, unless you are really lucky! So unless you just want to throw your money away, skip the open house and let your real estate agent do what he/she does best, which is bring you qualified buyers.
The real reason open houses are not effective at all is because of the internet. Let me ask you this...
What is the first thing you do when you decide to buy a home?
You go straight to the internet...right?
Yep! And so does almost everyone else. With the internet, there is no longer any need to drive around town wasting your time looking for a home when you can go to the internet and find everything you need with just a few clicks or taps. The internet will give you every available home on the market complete with detailed home information, home history, current and previous taxes, multitudes of pictures, 360° virtual tours, drone photography, maps, satellite views, neighborhood crime stats, marked lot lines, area conveniences such as grocery stores and restaurants, commute times, and we could go on and on. But if you've ever been on any of the major real estate websites looking at homes, you already know all this.
So why would anyone drive blindly around town looking for a home?
The short answer is—they wouldn't!
Another reason open houses are not a great idea, not to mention being ineffective, is that with an open house, people are coming and going, oftentimes in large numbers. This means none of the open house guests are getting the agents full attention and that's not good. Every buyer who is seriously interested in buying a home should be catered to in an effort to find them exactly what they are looking for in a home. Anything less is unacceptable!
OK, here it is—the moment you have been waiting for...the number one reason sellers should avoid having an open house at all costs.
Can you guess what it is? You've probably figured it out. It's crime.
When opening your home to groups of people, you risk becoming a victim of crime. Whether that be while the agent isn't looking, because he/she can't possibly keep an eye on everyone at once, or by a criminal who visits open houses to see what you have and scope out your home's vulnerabilities, so he/she can come back later and either hurt you and your family or steal your stuff. And unfortunately, this is more common than you would think.
So...is an open house really worth all that?
Not when there are so many better options and more effective ways to market your home in today's new real estate landscape.
When you decide to put your home on the market, please think long and hard about exactly how you want to go about doing that. Then talk with your real estate agent about their thoughts and how they plan on marketing your home. Then you can make an educated decision about which route is best for you and your particular situation.
About the Author
The above real estate article “Is an Open House Really Necessary When Selling a Home?” was written by Petra Norris of Lakeland Real Estate Group. With over 20 years of experience representing sellers and buyers with their real estate transactions, we welcome the opportunity to share our expertise and guide you through the home buying or selling process.
We service the following Central Florida areas: Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale, Bartow, Lake Alfred, Kathleen, Highland City, Mulberry and Davenport. If you are considering selling your home, we welcome the opportunity to work with you and list your home with a top Lakeland FL REALTOR