Should you have an open house?
By Steve Gillman - 2006
I remember the first open house I hosted. I was a new real
estate agent, and knew nothing about the home - it was listed
by another agent in the office. It was a lakefront home, which
was too expensive for most of the visitors who came that day.
They came to dream. Their kids came to run around the yard, getting
in the seller's things. I ran around trying to keep track of
where everyone was. I didn't sell the house.
This was okay, my office manager told me. It all went as planned.
I had the names and phone numbers of several prospective buyers
who had signed in at the open house. I even knew what some of
them wanted in a home, so I might possibly sell them something.
Here is the truth: an open house is a prospecting tool for
the agent, not a great way to sell your home. Many experienced
agents won't even host their own open houses. They just get a
newer agent to host it. I did this many times as a new real estate
Think about this for a moment. The listing agent could be
there, and keep more of the commission if the home sold. If the
hosting agent sells the home, he gives up half of his commission.
Would he take that risk if homes were commonly sold from open
Why should you let dozens of people who aren't qualified to
buy your home track their muddy feet through it then? Maybe you
shouldn't. Whatever the agent may tell you (and yes, there is
a chance you'll sell the home from an open house), he suggests
it for two primary reasons:
1. To show he's doing everything he can to sell your home
- effective or not.
2. To use it as a prospecting tool for himself, or for the
hosting agent and the broker.
A couple dozen couples looking for a new home will be signing
in with their phone numbers. Now that's an opportunity - just
not for you. The point is to collect a list of buyers. Most of
these are looking for homes that are nothing like yours. It isn't
expected that the agent will sell your house in the process.
I hosted many open houses when I started selling real estate,
and I didn't sell one of them that way.
Of course, it can happen. Any additional exposure can increase
the odds of selling your home - by a little bit. But remember
that this is more effective as a prospecting tool for the agent
than as a tool for selling your home. It may or may not be worth
the trouble for you, for the small chance that it will help.
What if you do have a open house? Hide the valuables - an
agent can't watch the visitors all the time. Put easily-broken
things away - parents may bring kids. Write a list of answers
to the most likely questions about your house - and give it to
the hosting agent. Maybe it is also fair to leave a hidden camera
running to see what really happens at the open house.