Do Open Houses really work?

Asked by Gyma303, Pensacola, FL Tue Jul 22, 2008

I was just wondering what to expect from an open house and what I should do to have a sucessful one?

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Myke Atwater, Agent, Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Tue Jul 22, 2008
It depends on what you mean by work--they do assist the realtor to identify buyers and it does help to get prospective buyers out of the woodwork. Frequently they do not buy the house they came to see, but it does help us to flush out interested parties. And the buyer who visits another open house may be the buyer for your house that we have just identified!! It's all about getting your home out visible in the marketplace--visibility is the key to a successful marketing campaign.
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0 votes
Gary De Pury, , Pasco County, FL
Wed Jul 23, 2008
Things I have done at an open house.....

Read a book
Met potential clients
Polished my shoes
Played games on my laptop
Eaten cookies and donuts
Designed one of my famous spreadsheets
Called clients
Called my mom (I had to have been really bored)
Taken calls from my wife (she must have been bored)
Listened to music
Cursed the advertising dollars (spent on that house)
Cursed the weather
Watched the neighbors (they were BBQing)
Set appointments for other showings
Read more
Eat another donut
Missed my sons B-day
Missed my own B-day
Answered questions about the market
Answered questions about the house down the street
Answered questions about the distance to the Kentucky ?????????
cleaned up a visitors kids throw up
cleaned up the owners dog poop
fixed the vacuum that happened to break on me
Had a few laughs
met a few friends
met a few clients
Fondly reminisced of my old job ( combat zone, nuff said)

but I have never, never sold the house that I was in. Do they work...well, they expose the house to the market, that is what they are intended to do, so yes. Do they sell houses...not in my humble opinion. Do I do them...yes. Why, after that litany of items, because I do what ever I can to expose my clients house.

Sometimes as the broker of the company, I find myself filling in on a canceled agent or assistant who was supposed to hold the house open. (That is how I missed my sons B-day, supporting my staff and agents client)

Sometimes I just want to do it, and sometimes the house warrants it. But I say again, I have never sold the house that I have held open.

If you are a home seller and considering holding your own, then here is a good idea. Call a firm and find a new and eager young Realtor to assist you. Someone who can use the leads that you generate. Have him/her help with signs and cookies / drinks. Because the leads are the best part of the open house and that REALTOR will most likely end up finding another buyer for you. (But make sure you are willing to compensate him/her)

Gary De Pury
Bay Vista Realty & Investments, Inc.
Chairman, Communications Committee
Greater Tampa Association of REALTORS®
Director, Florida Association of REALTORS®
1 vote
Rhonda Rockw…, , Pensacola, FL
Fri Jul 25, 2008
Hi Gyma303,

Here's some ideas for planning an open house:

Put a Sign in your yard on the Wednesday before your Open House such as:
Saturday 11:00 - 3:00 or whatever time you have set aside
Make up some flyers and give them to your neighbors and ask if they have friends or relatives that might want to move in the neighborhood. Pass out flyers in neighboring subdivisions or apartment buildings near you. Signs and Balloons leading to your house are very important.
If you have more than 2 Families stop by you've done a good job.

In your case if you have some help you can draw in people by advertising a Yard Sale and Open House, this way you get rid of clutter and you may find a buyer too. It's impossible to predict an open house and paying to advertise for one isn't worth it but there are some free venues for online advertising which can't hurt.

It's also a good idea to have a current market analysis and printouts of all the competition homes in the area in a presentation folder along with a copy of your utility bills, tax bill and insurance. This is a portfolio of your home and buyers are interested. Also make sure you've filled out your Sellers Disclosure form and all the disclosure forms that are required to sell your home and put them in the portfolio also.

These are just a few things I do for my sellers, it really makes an organized presentation to potential buyers and you can wow them with it at the open house.

I hope this helps you and Good Luck selling your home.
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ShondaCampan…, Agent, Jacksonville, FL
Wed Jul 23, 2008
I love Open Houses. The home you hold open does not always sell, but a lot of them do. It's worth a shot. From experience I can tell you that most of the people that come to my open houses come from seeing the signs and balloons. Put out a lot of signs and balloons and make sure you do not do it alone for safety purposes. Make up some information flyers with pictures of the home and also make everyone that enters your home sign in on a sign in sheet. This will allow you to follow up with them after the open house to get their opinion of your home and pricing.
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Sue Keenan, Agent, Salem, MA
Wed Jul 23, 2008

Less than 1% of all homes sell through an open house. usually you get buyers who are thinking about buying in the future. An open house is an open invitation to thieves. Those people in the law enforcement business can not believe agents actually do them and that sellers allow them. I have been selling Real Estate for the past 18 years. When I sold my personal house to move myself I did not do any open houses. Serious buyers will call and set up an appointment with ample notice.
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Joe Russo, , Longwood, FL
Wed Jul 23, 2008
It's not a TV Show- so a crowd is unlikely these days but, EVERYTHING works. Nothing works 100%, or even 50% of the time in this market. You hire a realtor for their professional expertise; that includes marketing an open house BEFORE they arrive. We don't know where a buyer will come from. So, nosy neighbors can tell interested parties about your home; passers-by can equally tell others what they saw. So, make sure your home really, REALLY LOOKS and SMELLS it's best. Ask the realtor holding your home open what they're doing to promote it other than directional signs and maybe the Sunday paper. An Open House done well is a lot of work before the day the home is open.
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Wed Jul 23, 2008

From our perspective, open houses definitely work. Since selling a home is all about "visibility" hosting open houses add to this most important aspect.

We have written contracts at open houses and we know many other agents that have also....don't believe your efforts will be wasted.

good luck,
The "Eckler Team"
0 votes
Laura Perrym…, Agent, Pensacola, FL
Tue Jul 22, 2008
When doing an Open House you need to keep an open mind. If you define a successful open house as one that results in your property being sold you probably won’t feel it was successful. Most open houses do not sell the house that is being held open.

With that in mind here are some things you can do:

Have a reason for the open house:
Is your property new to the market?
Huge price reduction?
Major improvements?

Place an ad about the open house.
Send out invitations to your neighbors.
Tell everyone at work, invite everyone!
Have professional directional signs up with a balloon or two on each.

If you have a Realtor they will take care of all this and probably utilize a lot of the resources we have available such as posting the open house on our MLS system.

You as the owner should make sure the house is very clean, closets are cleaned out, all clutter and personal pictures etc are removed. Staging is the biggest factor that you can control.

There is some staging information on my website you may want to review.

Best Wishes,

Laura Perryman
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Maria Morton, Agent, Kansas City, MO
Tue Jul 22, 2008
Open Houses generally produce a buyer leading to a sale about 1-3% of the time, depending on the area. Low odds but it does happen.

At an open house, you are allowing the general public into your private space. Most will probably be strangers. So,
put all valuables away.
This includes change laying on top of the dresser, the children's piggy bank, digital cameras, laptops, jewelry, grandma's china, and electronic games.
Consider removing flat screen TV's, high end artwork, and anything of particular sentimental value.
For safety sake, keep your cell phone with you at all times.
Try to have another person in the house with you while it is open.
Never allow yourself to be blocked into a room with a stranger.
Have someone call you every hour; if you do not answer, they should call the police immediately.
Alert the neighbors to the fact that your house will be open; they can keep an eye out.

To get the house ready for the showing:
Clean everything.
Make sure you have good curb appeal.
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, put toys and bicycles away, sweep the sidewalk, etc.
Make the home look spacious.
Remove any excess furniture. Arrange the pieces you have to show the home to it's best advantage.
Your realtor can help you with this. Or you could hire a professional stager.
Paint colors are best if they are neutral.
You want enough decorative items in the home to make it feel lightly lived in but not an abundance of knick-knacks.
If you have a garage, make sure it is cleaned out, organized and obviously capable of accomodating the number of cars it was designed to hold.
The basement should be clean, bright, and odor free.
Your whole house should smell good.
If there are pets, they need to be somewhere safe and out of the way during showings.

Have flyers and copies of your seller's disclosure on hand for people to take with them.
Have utility bills available (black out personal info)
Request all visitors to sign a guest register.
Consider asking visitors to fill out a brief questionaire stating what they liked and didn't like about the house. Ask what they think of the price.
To highlight specific features of your home, place little "Special Feature" signs; for instance:
"new roof 2006"
"working fireplace with gas starter" - last cleaned & inspected Nov 2007
"low flow toilet"
"on demand hot water heater"
"zoned HVAC"
"new Trane furnace installed May 2008"
Put in 100watt bulbs and turn on all the lights in every room.
Turn the air conditioning on so that it feels cool when people come in. (heat in winter)
Put out some fresh flowers.
Make it as inviting as the nicest bed & breakfast you've ever visited.

When interacting with visitors, be friendly but keep your information confidential.
No one needs to know you leave the house every day at a certain time. Or that you will be gone for two weeks in August.
No one needs to know your financial information.
No one needs to know how anxious you are to sell the home.
Keep the conversation focused on the house and the potential buyer's needs.

Qualifying buyers: try to determine if the visitors are preapproved, serious buyers or just looking.
Are they preapproved through a reputable, local lender or some .com?
When do they need to move? Are they motivated?
How long have they been looking?
What else have they seen?
How does your home compare to the one on the next block?
Get a phone number to follow up with anyone who seems very interested.
Consider doing an example Good Faith Estimate for potential buyers who haven't yet ordered their financing.
Well, those are the basics; Good Luck!
0 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Tue Jul 22, 2008
It sounds from your question that you are selling without professional representation, so I am going to answer from that perspective.

The biggest challenge that owners have is exposure to the market. Following that are setting the right price, preparing the listing for market, and negotiating the final price and terms. All of these issues require expertise that most home owners do not have (not all, but most).

Open houses are one of the few inexpensive ways to market your property. Putting signs out and having strangers walk through your home is one of the few ways to actually find out what people think of your home and to find a buyer. I suggest advertising them on

I would make flyers and take one to 200 homes in the neighborhood.
Offer refreshments.
State the open house hours.
Ask the buyers to sign a guest book so you can follow up to see if they are interested.

When you purchased this home did you use a Realtor to act as your buyer's agent? Most people do because we work for "free". In fact, the buyer that first sees the home they purchase sees it with a Realtor 90% of the time, so your market is really Realtors.

I suggest that you interview three Realtors, ask them for an Estimate Of Seller's Net Proceeds, run the numbers, then you make the call. There is a big difference between putting a home on the market, having an open house, and actually selling a property. If you really need to sell, then at least talk with some professionals so if you do decide to list it, you can do that quickly.
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