Real estate Open House
Worthwhile for a Seller?

To say the least, opinion regarding the real estate open house is divided. Agents either love 'em or hate 'em. And homeowners who attempt to sell privately really need them.

Some agents consider the open house to be a major tool for lead and sales generation and hold them regularly, obviously because they've enjoyed success with this ever-popular marketing method.

Open houses are also a great way for an agent to placate a frustrated seller. A homeowner may have deliberately or misguidedly over-priced their property. And since ad response may be minimal as a result, agents and private sellers often depend on open houses to meet prospective buyers who happen along not knowing the asking price. And of course, a listing agent might even sell their own listing in the process.

It's a cost effective way for your realty agent (or yourself if you're attempting to sell your house privately) to introduce themselves to buyers. Though some visitors may already be established with their own buyer agent who advised their client to visit open houses and call when they find a home of interest, others may not yet be under a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with a real estate agent.

If the house on open doesn't appeal to a visitor, depending on how the "orphan" buyer relates with your agent, they may be inclined to hire them to assist in their home search. Or a private buyer might make an offer on your home.

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Substantial Time Investment

Sitting in your living room on a weekend afternoon may not be totally wasted. You, the homeowner, win because your property was exposed to the buying public. And your agent got the chance to meet prospects without necessarily having to spend some of their limited advertising budget on newspaper ads trying to generate buyer prospects.

Some agents avoid real estate open houses like the plague and consider them a waste of valuable time. They claim that visitors to open houses are usually just nosy neighbours, tire kickers or decor idea shoppers. And if they're serious buyers, your property often won't be affordable for them anyway since people usually want more than they can afford. Hard to argue with that point.

Disinterested agents claim that most buyers are already under a Buyer Representation Agreement with another brokerage. Hence, the agent wouldn't have an opportunity to develop a new client. Unfortunately, they don't consider an open house a legitimate tool in their marketing kit for their seller client - just a slim chance to personally meet new buyers. Wrong attitude.

So, are open houses worthwhile for a seller? What's to lose except some of your listing agent's time - or your own. Nevertheless, ensure that your listing agent properly manages the visitors. Losing control can result in too many people wandering throughout the house - unattended.

Think About Security

Would you allow a stranger to walk unattended everywhere inside your home to potentially snoop through your closets, cabinets and drawers, or worse, steal from you? I think not. This is particularly significant for private home sellers who've not benefited from advice from a professional on how to prepare a house for viewings.

Also, too many visitors milling about your home means missed opportunities for your agent to effectively connect with prospects. Thus, the results of the open house are often less than stellar. How could one agent in a large home persuasively show the property? They couldn't promote all the features, benefits and improvements to numerous parties simultaneously meandering aimlessly about. It's simply not possible. It's simply an inferior, passive excuse for an open house.

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Some Homes Are Unsuitable
for a Real Estate Open House

Let's face it. Some properties are well suited for an open, while others definitely are not. If your home is a showplace, it's possible an open home could lead to a successful sale. Once buyer prospects see your sharp home up close and personal, the chances of an offer through your agent or their own (or to a private home seller) are very good, provided of course - and this is critical - your home is priced right.

However, if your home is plain, tired or rough, real estate open houses are probably not for you. In such a case, any benefit (and its doubtful there would be any) from holding a real estate open house belongs solely with the agent. But holding a successful open home on this type of property is unlikely anyway if the front exterior isn't sharp enough to attract visitors. It's a classic example of people judging a book by its cover. And they'll judge the inside to be in the same sorry condition as the outside.

I advise you to discuss the prospects of a real estate open house with your own agent. Or if you don't have one and would like an agent recommendation, or you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Visit CREA for more information about marketing your home, including by way of an open house. And to learn a little from a buyer's perspective about the real estate open house, click here.

To read more on the subject of the open house, along with various other popular topics published in Real Estate Monthly (REM), click here.

If you're considering selling your home, with or without the assistance of an agent, check out my book The Happy Agent. It contains the sum total of the real estate knowledge, philosophies and techniques that I've accumulated, practiced and polished during a highly successful 40-year realty career.

Learn how to effectively evaluate your home and prepare it for market to maximize the ultimate sale price, how to market and advertise effectively, how to handle showings and open houses like a pro, how to successfully negotiate an offer and more. If you're trying to sell privately, you'll also learn how to recognize the signs of when it's time to throw in the towel and hire a professional and what to expect from them.

When you consider the huge possible savings in real estate commission with a private sale attempt and the fact that you're dealing with your largest single financial asset, a small investment of your time and a pittance of your money could save you thousands of dollars and a ton of heartache. At the very least, you'll be encouraged to try it alone, at least for awhile. Remember - knowledge is power.

Available virtually everywhere print and e-books are sold.

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