I was in the office Saturday morning preparing for my five (yes, five) open houses when my broker asked me “Why are you doing open houses? They are a waste of time.” I know a lot of agents and agencies feel that way. They believe that appointments sell apartments and that open houses are just “real estate theater”. Agents hold them to appease our sellers to make it look like we’re actively trying to sell their units. I however, disagree. I think open houses are an important part of the real estate purchase process, but not necessarily in the way you might think.
To me, holding an open house is a form of real estate
socialism. My open house probably helped to sell someone else’s apartment. Allow me to explain: as my buyers begin the process of searching for an apartment, I encourage them to see as many properties and go to as many open houses as possible. I tell them to visit places above their price range and below, to visit places smaller than what they require and/or larger than what they need, and in parts of town where they would not necessarily want to live. I want them to familiarize themselves with the inventory and learn precisely what their money will buy, so that when I take them out on appointments and I show them the place of their dreams, they are not afraid to make an offer. Going to open houses makes buyers more confident of their decisions.
I’ve had many situations where I take my buyers to a well priced, top-notch property that exactly fits their needs, but they are still new to the process and are afraid to take that leap. Then 3 weeks later they come back and say “is that first place we went to still available?” Sometimes it is, but more often than you might expect, it’s gone. Even in this buyer’s market, really good deals don’t last.
So that’s why I believe open houses are an important part of the process all buyers have to go through. I don’t really expect someone to walk into my open house and say “I’ll take it!” although believe it or not, that’s happened. No, I expect that many of the people that come to my open house are just reassuring themselves that the place they saw last week was better for them, or are gathering information for the place they have yet to see. Similarly, there are buyers out there visiting someone else’s open house that are going to end up making an offer to one of my sellers down the road.
What do you think? Are open houses worthwhile or a waste of time? Did they help you when you were buying? Would you insist on them if you were selling? If you were (or are) a realtor, would you host them, or would you just take advantage of other people’s work without participating in the process? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
– by Howard Turoff