By John Stemlar, Sage Real Estate Advisors
Open houses have long been a mainstay of residential real estate; an assumed part of every agent’s marketing plan. But are open houses really about selling the home?
Serious homebuyers have refined their home search criteria and know immediately (through email alerts) when a promising home hits the market. Most of these buyers have an agent able to give them a private tour of any home, often within hours of it coming on the market. Even agent-less buyers can easily arrange a private showing on their schedule with a click or a call to the listing agent. With few exceptions, the people “popping into” open houses aren’t ready to buy. Open house visitors are predictably either curious neighbors or “tire kickers” who are in the earliest stage of their home search and education process.
So why would a listing agent spend a Sunday afternoon inviting total strangers to walk through your home, with virtually no chance of selling it to any of them? When you again consider that most open house visitors are neighbors and 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 buyer and seller 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 self-promote under the guise of how hard she is working to sell your home.
There are niche situations where an open house is a legitimate home selling tactic. For the most part, however, open houses are held for the benefit of the listing agent and not the seller-client. Recognizing this is important because, aside from the associated 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