So much has changed in the last three years when it comes to those tried and true real estate practices. With COVID, the open house has faced the most disruption. After all, a pandemic and inviting strangers into your home didn’t exactly mix well. Now that the pandemic is largely behind us, agents are dusting off their sign-in sheets and getting back into the swing of things. Some agents consider it a good thing to leave the open houses in the past, others see them as an important tool that needs to be brought back into the fray.
Here are the pros and cons of open houses in a 2022 market.
More Buyers — An open house allows for more people to see your home. I always tell my sellers that the process is split into two sections. First, we market the property (attract buyers) and then we sell it (showings and compel offers). There’s no doubt that an open house makes it easier to see a home by getting more eyeballs on the property. More eyeballs — more potential offers. Finally, having buyers through an open house means there is a possibility there will be fewer scheduled showings, which allows the seller to actually be in their home more than not.
Low-pressure environment — In general, open houses are pretty informal and casual, which can help potential buyers feel more comfortable and allow them to really explore the house. Buyers are all different and pacing can be important.
Allows for a second look — Often, a buyer will set up an appointment on a Friday and then take a second look at the weekend open house. This allows for parents, spouses, kids, etc. all to take a look with the buyer. Sometimes they will bring a contractor to get a REALLY close look at the property which can mean more waived inspection scenarios.
Gives more marketing ‘UMPH’ to a property — Believe it or not, Zillow and realtor.com reward properties that have open houses. Meaning they will put the listing higher because an open house makes it more interesting and more likely to be “clicked” on by the consumer. The internet is all about engagement, after all. If you’ve got a property that’s sitting side-by-side with others, it is something to consider.
Unqualified buyers & neighbors — Open houses can certainly attract unqualified buyers, “looky-loo’s,” and “nosy neighbors.” You want the people walking through the house to be able to actually buy it, right? Agents don’t mind this because they have the chance to pick up a new client every time someone walks through the door, but these people generally don’t serve well in selling the home unless they want their friend to move into the area.
Security issues — An open house allows people to walk through a home with very little supervision even in this day and age of video surveillance. This can lead to potential thefts, damage, or vandalizing of property. As unpleasant as it is to think about, the reality is that owners should make sure to remove or hide their valuables to lower the chances of something happening. I personally advise all my sellers to take anything they cherish out of the house including sentimental items, firearms, and jewelry.
Less one-on-one time with potential buyers — An agent will usually be outnumbered during an open house, which means that not everyone will get personal attention — and that can sometimes make or break a potential buyer’s decision making. This can be especially detrimental for homes that are in some kind of disrepair. Sometimes, it’s strategically more sound to allow for only private showings because you can allow the buyer’s agent to explain what they’re seeing. I recently did an open house where I couldn’t be in two places at once and the home needed someone to explain some of the needed repairs.
Slim chance of a sale — The vast majority of homes are sold when a buyer has an agent, requests an appointment, and tours a home privately. The percentage of homes that actually sell as a direct result of an open house is less than 2-3%. These are the hard numbers and have been this way for years. However, the collateral benefits might make this number misleading. For example, if the open house rewarded the listing and made it visible on a realtor.com and then that buyer made a private appointment then it has served its purpose.
Overall, the open house is probably still going be a thing for years to come, but it is a bit of a lightning rod issue. Consulting with your agent is the best course of action so they can walk you through expectations and the process as a whole.
Seth Lejeune is a partner/team leader at REMAX HOMEPOINT in Royersford and can be reached at [email protected] or 610-804-2104.