In order to get the best offers in the least amount of time, should you have an open house (or possibly several), or skip this tactic and focus on other marketing options? Well, there is no definitive answer to this very common question. With apologies to Shakespeare, the pivotal question in the real estate world isn’t “to be or not to be,” but rather “to open house or not to open house.”
To help you determine whether an open house should — or shouldn’t be — part of your marketing plan, here are some pros and cons according to Alexander Diaz de Villegas, a real estate agent with Homestead, Florida’s Battlefield Investment Group.
Greater Exposure: Open houses provide homes with greater exposure, since the event is advertised on various websites, social media, and through conventional display advertising such as A-signs and yard signs. This can be especially helpful to reach prospective buyers who do not know how to start the process. They can simply attend the open house and move forward from there as they wish.
Low-Pressure Environment: Open houses provide prospective buyers with a relaxed, low pressure environment where they can explore various rooms, examine finishes and fixtures, and envision what life might look and feel like if they ultimately end up moving in.
Alexander Diaz de Villegas adds that open houses also give prospective buyers the opportunity to step outside and chat with neighbors, visit nearby parks, and really get a feel for the community and environment.
Security and Theft Concerns: Arguably the biggest potential drawback of open houses is that they can pose security and theft risks. However, these risks can and should be mitigated by proactively securing valuables (e.g. jewelry, portable devices, sensitive documents, etc..), keeping track of visitors who enter a home, limiting the number of visitors who are in a home at one time, and accompanying visitors as they tour a home.
Alexander Diaz de Villegas notes that some real estate agents also work in teams and bring colleagues or assistants with them to open houses. This is good for overall security and ensuring that prospective buyers have someone to greet them and answer their questions.
Attract Non-Serious and Unqualified Visitors: The good news is that open houses can attract many visitors. But the bad news is that some of those visitors may have no intention of buying a home (i.e. they’re basically just bored or nosy), and other visitors may not have the financial means to put a serious offer on a home. For example, they may have the budget to purchase a home in the $200,000 range yet attend open houses for homes that are listed at $250,000 and sometimes much higher.
Alexander Diaz de Villegas says that ironically, so-called lookie-loos can actually be a benefit to sellers, because they make homes look more desirable and in-demand. It’s like walking into a store and seeing many customers browsing around or walking into a store and being the only one there. With the former, you feel as though there’s a lot of buzz due to the popularity, and you want to get in on the action before you lose an opportunity. With the latter, you start to wonder what might be wrong and if everyone else is at a better store down the street.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the decision of whether to have — or not have — an open house will depend on a variety of factors; not the least of which being whether similar homes in the area (a.k.a. “comparables”) have open houses.
Alexander Diaz de Villegas concludes that the best advice is to work with an experienced real estate agent and decide if and when an open house makes sense and will support your goal of getting the best possible offers in the least amount of time.