Should You Hold an Open House When Selling Your Home?
When you read that 93% of all buyers start their home search online, as noted in the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, it makes one question whether holding an open house when selling your home is worth the effort. Drive around any of the Mid-Missouri towns in Boone, Callaway, and Cole counties on a Saturday or Sunday and you will see plenty of signs directing you to an open house. Just because they are common does not mean they are right for every home seller. It is up to each seller and their agent to plan an effective marketing strategy to sell their home.
For our team’s listings, the vast majority of our homes include an open house the first weekend on the market. Why do those sellers make that choice? Let’s take a look at both sides of the issue and outline the pros and cons.
What is an open house?
An open house is an opportunity for buyers to tour a property without scheduling an appointment or using a Realtor® to guide them. During a scheduled block of time, the home is open for buyers to view at their own pace. Sellers prepare their home the same way as they would for a scheduled showing, and a host agent from our team greets guests at the door to invite them to see the home. Guests may include potential buyers, real estate agents, other sellers with homes on the market who are competing with you for buyers, curious neighbors, and people who just find fun in touring homes.
Speaking of preparing your home for a showing or open house, here is a handy checklist you can download with tips to make your home show ready.
Benefits of Holding an Open House
More Opportunities to Market Your Home
Holding an open house gives us additional opportunities to promote your home to the public. This increased exposure may expand your buyer pool by casting a wider net to catch buyer interest. Buyers have to know that your home is on the market in order to consider buying it, and the best way to do that is to develop a marketing strategy that comprehensively targets all online sources, such as the MLS, Zillow, Realtor.com, Instagram, Facebook, and the like, as frequently as possible. Since most buyers start their home search online, maximizing the internet traffic through advertising is a great way to catch buyers’ attention.
Appeal to Buyers Who Aren’t Ready to Commit
Holding an open house allows buyers in the very early stages of buying a home to view the home without hiring a Realtor. These buyers may be seriously considering their purchase, but may be more comfortable looking around a bit on their own before committing to hiring a professional to guide them. Without a Realtor®, these buyers can’t schedule a showing through the MLS, so an open house gives these buyers the opportunity to tour at their own pace with no pressure. It’s kind of like a car buyer who just wants to walk around the lot alone before talking with a salesperson. That buyer has real money to spend and will probably end up purchasing a car, but they are more comfortable shopping privately before discussing their options with someone else. Our open house host is there to answer their questions but will keep the environment very casual. We can share many stories of buyers who attended an open house without a Realtor® who ended up buying a home after making a connection with the agent hosting the open house.
Add a Sense of Urgency for Interested Buyers
We have found that holding an open house the first weekend a home is on the market makes interested buyers more responsive to writing an offer more quickly out of FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. It is common for buyers to see a home once with their Realtor® and then come back for a second look at the open house. If that event is well-attended, they might consider sweetening the deal to make their offer more competitive. Without an open house, it is nearly impossible for a buyer to know if others are also interested in making an offer. An open house can make buyers move more quickly with a better offer.
In a Busy Market, Open Houses Increase Efficiency
If your home is a popular one, it can be difficult for buyers to schedule time to see it. Holding an open house for 2 hours gives a higher volume of buyers the opportunity to view it than during a 2-hour window of private showings. This is usually more convenient for sellers as well, as it reduces the number of times sellers have to leave their home to allow for a private showing. For sellers who are having to pack up and move children and/or pets, less disruption is very much appreciated.
Challenges of Holding an Open House
Not Likely to Sell at the Event
The NAR has reported that fewer than 3% of homes sell based on the open house alone. The vast majority of buyers purchase because they work with a Realtor® who arranges for them to tour the property privately. However, as mentioned above, the open house is often a second chance viewing that seals the deal for buyers to write an offer. It is pretty rare for someone to attend an open house for the first viewing of a home and then make an offer to purchase on the spot, but we have seen many instances where a buyer first saw a home during an open house and then returned later with their Realtor® for a private tour that resulted in an offer.
Open Houses Are “Open”
For private showings, Realtors® are vetting buyers to make sure they are prequalified to purchase a home and their finances are in order. Those buyers understand their budget and know they can afford a home before seeing it in person. For an open house, anyone can view the home regardless of their financial readiness, so it is common for guests to attend who would never result in an actual buyer of the home.
Weekend Window Shoppers
Like unqualified buyers, open houses can attract curious neighbors and folks who just enjoy looking at houses in their spare time. These buyers most likely have no plan to buy a home in the near future, but may be interested in home decor and design styles, or something similar. Not everyone who attends an open house is there to consider buying it.
The Potential for Crime
While rare, it is possible that someone could attend an open house looking for an opportunity to do something inappropriate. Because these events can get busy and the host may not be able to closely follow everyone who attends, someone with criminal intent could see it as a chance to walk around the home unsupervised to steal or make plans for a later break-in, especially if the home is vacant. We advise all of our sellers to remove or secure any valuable items that could easily be pocketed or that would be attractive to a criminal, like prescription drugs, guns, or jewelry. Our open house hosts and sellers are encouraged to double-check window and door locks after the event to make sure everything is secure.
While we promote every event to generate interest, not every home is well suited for open house traffic. If you live in a more rural area, if parking is difficult, if you live in a condo community with tight building security, or if it might create difficulties with your neighbors to host an event, it might not be worth your time and energy.
A Comprehensive Marketing Plan is Key
As mentioned above, the majority of our home sellers make the choice to include an open house when selling their home because they feel the benefits outweigh the cost. An open house is just part of a well-designed marketing strategy, so a skilled Realtor® will be able to sell your home whether you chose to hold an open house or not. If your agent includes every piece of the marketing puzzle in your home sale plan, as noted below, they will ensure the best outcome.
- Include professional home staging to make your home attractive to a wide variety of buyers.
- Hire a professional photographer to ensure your home’s online image is superb. Take a look in more detail at the importance of real estate staging and photography here.
- Create a wide-reaching social media presence with frequent posts to catch the eye of potential buyers.
- Produce engaging marketing materials, such as videos, virtual tours, and home websites to attract online shoppers.
- Utilize every online resource to promote the home, including mobile marketing, to make your listing shine when compared to the competition.
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Are you thinking of selling your home in Columbia, Missouri or surrounding counties? The Heartland Network-Mid MO can help you through the entire selling process from start to finish. Our team of experts is ready to serve you with strategic pricing and a dynamic and diverse marketing campaign. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of holding an open house to decide the best course of action for your unique situation. You can rest easy knowing that our team has done everything we could to secure the best outcome for your home sale. If you are ready to speak with us, fill out the contact form below and a team member will be in touch.