By John Stemlar, Sage Real Estate Advisors
The Short Answer: Rarely; agents hold open houses primarily to self-promote and to meet and pitch prospective new clients.
When thinking about an open house, consider that serious homebuyers (the ones that count) are highly-focused, have refined their purchase criteria and have a game plan to ensure they see all homes meeting that criteria. Once a home is listed, it proliferates across the Internet and will readily show up in online searches and email alerts. Nearly all serious buyers have an agent who can and will give them a private tour of any home on the market; even buyers not working with an agent can arrange a private showing with a click or a call to the listing agent. The take-away here is that the real homebuyers aren’t the people “popping into” open houses on a Sunday afternoon . Open house visitors (nosy neighbors aside) are predictably those in the earliest stage of the home buying and/or the education process – not yet real buyers.
So why would a real estate agent spend 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon welcoming strangers to walk through your home with virtually no chance of selling it to any of them? When you again consider that open house visitors are mostly early-stage buyers who don’t yet have an agent, the answer is very simple: an open house gives the listing agent a free platform (your home) to meet, engage and pitch new prospective clients “I can help you sell your current home” or “if this house doesn’t work for you, I can show you any home…” What is really cool (from the agent’s perspective) is that she can do it under the guise of impressing you with how hard she is working to sell your home.
With all of this said, there are exceptions and there are niche situations where we have recommended holding an open house. However, for the most part, open houses are for selling the listing agent, not the home. Recognizing this is important because, aside from the stress and inconvenience, opening your home to largely unsupervised strangers puts you and your family at risk in terms property damage, theft, liability and privacy.
John Stemlar is a Principal and the Managing Broker at Sage Real Estate Advisors, a boutique Atlanta residential brokerage. He promotes the Lynwood Park neighborhood and the homes for sale in Lynwood Park at www.LynwoodParkHomes.com