Are Open Houses Becoming Obsolete?
By Monte Mohr
For decades one of the most traditional marketing strategies utilized by homeowners and real estate agents alike was to conduct open houses. The purpose seemed simple: get foot traffic through the door and expose the home to as many buyers as possible. Years ago that made open houses an extremely important tool. They were one of the best ways for buyers to become familiar with a property. But is that still true? With the increasingly dominant presence of the Internet and social media, the reality for most sellers today is that open houses have become a dinosaur.
Most home buyers use the Internet and mobile apps when conducting their home searches, making it all too important to have a strong online presence with your listing. Including photographs in your online listing essentially eliminates the need for people to physically walk through your home. Online pictures provide prospective buyers a glimpse into your home. Then if buyers are serious and like what they see online, they will call to schedule a private showing to get a closer look. Historically speaking, private showings are much more likely to sell a home than an open house because your agent can screen for qualified buyers.
This brings up another disadvantage to open houses. While foot traffic is never bad for the selling process, it can be useless if those who are touring the home are not qualified to buy it. Open houses are just that – open to the general public. That means anybody can walk through your home, whether they are interested in buying or not. They are free to inspect your home even if they do not have the means to purchase the property. For many people open houses have become a form of entertainment. It’s a way for people to “dream” about owning houses they do not intend to buy, for your nosey neighbors to get a peek inside or perhaps an easy way to get interior decorating ideas. The bottom line is that open houses tend to attract “looky-loos” instead of eligible buyers.
Because open houses have been a well-established part of the selling process for so long, many homeowners still feel they are necessary. For this reason, many agents will conduct them simply to “prove” to their client that they are doing everything possible to sell their home. They are “earning their commission,” if you will. What sellers may not realize is that many times an open house will actually benefit the agent more than the seller. Why? Because it’s a goldmine for generating buyer leads. Prospective clients might not be interested in your home, but your agent is ready and willing to represent those buyers in their search for another one.
So are there any instances when an open house is worth the work involved? Yes. Just because open houses have lost steam over the years doesn’t mean they are worthless all the time. In certain instances it’s a good idea for the seller to conduct an open house. Holding an occasional open house can provide a seller with immediate feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the property. The seller can then use the feedback to make any necessary adjustments. Also, if several homes are for sale in the same neighborhood, it can be great to schedule a “neighborhood open house” for all homes on the same day; this helps raise the profile of the community. And lastly, although there aren’t too many homes that fall into this category, if you own a truly unique home that offers one-of-a-kind features or distinct architectural details that you have to “see to believe,” then an open house may be in order.
Real estate broker Monte Mohr has sold over 2,000 homes in the last 25 years, giving him a unique perspective on the real estate trends in Nashville, Tenn. He is a regular contributor of real estate advice to Nashville’s NBC affiliate station, WSMV Channel 4. To learn more about Monte Mohr and his real estate advice, visit tennesseedreamhomes.com.
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