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Open Houses: What are they? Who goes to them? And Why?

Written by: Jamie Cline, Sales Associate

It seems common-place enough. Every Sunday afternoon, in nearly every part of the metro area, you see the lead-in signs for an open house. If you’re checking out homes online, you’ll find open houses. New homes may have daily open house hours available. So, you may ask yourself, “What exactly is an open house?”

Let’s start with who is involved. Traditionally, open houses are held by real estate agents/firms who are representing the seller of a property that is on the market. The agent holds the home open for the public to come and see the property up close and personal. But why? Let’s look at a few reasons.

First, it’s a no-pressure way to “look at a home” without “really” looking at a home. Many potential buyers are hesitant to jump into the waters of the house hunt feet first; so, an open house is an easy way to dip the toes in (so to speak). But this is a great opportunity for both the buyer and the agent. A new buyer, even if he or she is still 6 months away, may not fully understand the home buying process; so finding an agent of his or her own is an important step. Yes, agents also represent buyers, not only sellers. The particular home at the open house may not be “the one” for a potential buyer, but that agent should be engaging so that when the buyer is ready, he or she will call and say, “hey, we met you at your open house, and we’d really like to start looking for something similar.” An open house is a perfect way for agents and buyers to find each other.

Second, there will be lots of people “just looking”. They’re not interested in buying anything, or they’re maybe considering buying something one day, 6 months from now, a year from now, 3 years down the road. They’re literally coming in to look around. It’s a nice day, it’s close to where they live now, they were out for a drive and saw the sign, they’re the neighbors across the street who were curious about the inside of this house. Sellers and agents should expect this sort of traffic. But, they shouldn’t be blown off or ignored. They may not be looking; but they may know a friend or co-worker who is interested. They may have a relative moving into town who’s going to be looking for something soon. The agent should take this opportunity to establish a rapport, make a positive impression, and when that buyer is ready, hopefully they will connect. And this is beneficial to the seller; if someone from that open house does know someone interested, hopefully they will mention the house to them.

Third, there will likely be other agents coming as well. Perhaps they know a buyer who is interested, but timing has prevented them from arranging a showing. So, those agents are coming to get a close look at the home for their buyers. Sometimes, those buyers will come with their agents. This is a great opportunity for agents to network. Perhaps that particular home isn’t “the one” either; but the hosting agent may have a lead on another home for the potential buyer’s agent.

A common misconception is that an open house is an opportunity for buyers to come through, wallets and checkbooks in hand, ready to buy on the spot. This is highly unlikely to happen. A qualified buyer is likely already working with an agent of their own, as mentioned above, and has probably already arranged to see the home.

So, if you’re considering holding an open house, please keep a few things in mind:

  • Think of this as a way for potential buyers to see the home. They may be interested enough to consider writing an offer afterward.
  • Expect there to be several looky-loos who aren’t at all interested in your home, or any home for that matter.
  • Make plans to be out of the house during the open house; and don’t take any negative comments or feedback personally.
  • Make sure your home is clean and free of clutter, welcoming and inviting to the public. Imagine if you had an unexpected visitor – how would your home look to them?
  • Put away personal information – bank statements, photos, identifying documents, etc, as well as valuable or sentimental items.
  • Last but not least, relax and treat yourself! After the open house, go out to a nice dinner, or unwind at home with some music and a nice glass of wine!


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