How much do open houses really help, if at all?

Asked by Macbeth, Lake Oswego, OR Mon Aug 3, 2009

Our house has been on the market for 3 months. We've had a lot of positive remarks and feedback but always seem to be the second for buyers.

We have not had an open house and my realtor is not keen on one citing mainly the neighbors coming by and worried about potential theft. We see homes that have had 3-4 open houses and still have no offers but it's about the only thing left to try.

Is an open house really necessary? I know there are rare instances when an open house garners an offer but honestly - do homes sell faster after an open house?

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Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sat Aug 29, 2009
Dunes, once again, you and I concur!

Just so you know.....Open houses ARE part of my marketing plan, but often the seller puts so much hope in them, I try to temper that enthusiasm with a dose of reality, so there is no letdown when the open house fails to sell their home.

Hey, after 3 months on th market, I agree with Dunes, what have you got to lose? Why not try it....if for no reason than to know you at least gave it a shot! I don't leave any stone unturned!

In my area there is a company that promoted weekly open houses! Their signs and balloons were all over the place every Sunday - looked like the circus was coming to town. (the town has since banned balloons, and limited the number of signs you can have). Anyway, the name recognition for the company was great.......all you saw was their signs....but the same houses were open week after week. It didn't do much good for those listings.

Not to worry Dunes, when we get going with selling your shack, I will be sure to have open houses.....well, one, anyway!
1 vote
i, , Bear Creek H E B, Houston, TX
Sun Aug 30, 2009

There is no rule regarding Open Houses ie will a house get sold or not, when Open House is held. if house is priced right and has good marketing, then usually it sells fast without any open house. I do not know about the pricing of your house, nor marketing techniques your agent is using. What I am positive about, that is working, is the Open House 24/7 in real estate FULL MOTION VIDEO. This way potential buyers can visit your house any time, when it is convinient for THEM, without disturbing you, even when you are sleeping. Is your real estate agent using a video of your house to expose it to the largest number of potential buyers? You can preview samples of my Houston real estate videos at
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0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Sat Aug 29, 2009
Debbie, I like it when we concur, it's way better than when we not concur..

I know we both have the Questioners (Macbeth this time) best interests in our thoughts but we operate with just partial info (No knowledge of Price/comparables/are ANY houses selling/specific location (on the lake off the lake) and a thousand other things

Macbeth you have to decide if your needs suggest giving it a shot

When I sell my shack it's gonna be Kool-aid & Crackers for everybody, gonna do it up big time!
0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Sat Aug 29, 2009
No argument here Debbie, didn't see a list.
This is what came up when I searched open houses on the NAR site and clicked on the most current link.
It was just the comment I posted and info on being safe (Didn't think it was necessary to add that)

Nothing else was provided. Last time I depend on NAR to provide all the info. ; )

Did kinda figure it didn't mean 48%, of homes sold as a result of open houses but if my home was on the market for three months and I was looking for a way to get a buyer,
I'd be thinking I followed my Agents advice for three months, they did their best but I still want to sell.

I Haven't tried an Open House so I will, maybe it will help maybe it won't ,but my only other option is to sit and hope. (Assuming I already did the price drop and any other suggestions my agent made that were possible for me to do)

If your are willing to buy lottery tickets then being willing to do a Open house to sell doesn't seem like a bad idea to me. Maybe you win maybe you don't.

For three months the MLS and the internet haven't sold it.
Lake Oswego is a highly desirable area but with the job market and foreclosures in Oregon I'd be trying everything and anything if I felt I needed to sell.
0 votes
Fred Romano, Agent, Servicing All, CT
Sat Aug 29, 2009
Open Houses are like finding needles in haystacks. Plus the cost for print ads required to generate enough traffic to make it worth your time is just not worth the gamble. It's really hit or miss, but mostly Realtors use them to generate potential buyer clients.
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sat Aug 29, 2009
Hi Dunes - Just as a point of information..............The NAR stats are as following: Here's the whole list you pulled from........
Information Sources Used in Home Search
Real estate agent - 84%

Internet -84%

Yard sign - 59%

Open house - 48% (this doesn't mean 48% of buyers came from open houses)

Home book/magazine - 31%

Builders - 24%

Television - 9%

Billboard - 7%

Relocation company - 5%

Notice this full list (which well exceeds 100% ) is not a statistical breakdown of where the buyers come from (Billboard is there - but it doesn't mean 7% of all buyers bought because of a billboard ) , but rather what buyers USED in their PROCESS, along the sure, maybe 48% said they, at some point, visited an open house while in the home search mode, that wouldn't surprise me, but it doesn't mean the house sold because of that........2 different concepts at work fact, there are statistics to the contrary

The NAR also puts out a pie chart graph showing where the actual buyers came from (I'll try to get the link for that) , that resulted in the sale of a home, and open houses don't even make the chart. So.... buyers may wander through open houses in the course of looking for a home (that's how agents pick up new buyers from OH's) , but rarely do they wind up buying THAT home.

As many here have noted, OH's are a potential source of new business, and a source allowing self promotion in a neighborhood, and a way of placating sellers......but not generally not the source of that home selling!

I know most of my buyers have stumbled into an open house at one time or another, so they would be part of that 48% stat, but they never bought any of them.

Macbeth wants to know if open houses will help sell HIS home.......the 2 top sources for buyers are the MLS (ie: agent) and the internet.

Now, I know that in Manhattan (NYC), open houses are a viable source of buyers for those coops or condos. So, the open house question can vary from area to area.

Statistics aside, I have personally never found open houses to be helpful in selling the home, and goodness knows I've sat at a lot of them over the years! It happens, but not often enough......bottom line........Macbeth - in regard to open houses.... they won't hurt, but they probably won't help either. It's up to you and your realtor.

Best advice Macbeth - price it to sell - reduce it if necessary............and it wil sell l!
Good Luck
Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
0 votes
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Sat Aug 29, 2009

Here's something put out by NAR about Open Houses on their site..they seem to disagree with the comments of some agents.
(Updated May 2009)
NAR's 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicates that 48% of all buyers used open houses as a source in their home search process. This figure suggests the value of open houses even in the Craig's List/MySpace/Twitter era

0 votes
., , Sycamore, IL
Sat Aug 29, 2009
Open house do not usually work. They are more for the Realtor to get leads. I have been in the business since 1991 and tryed everything numerous times
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Betty Jung, Agent, Lake Oswego, OR
Sat Aug 29, 2009
In my years of selling real estate (going on 35 years), I have only sold 3-4 houses as a result of an open house. Having said that, however, I still hold open houses almost every weekend and for many reasons. First, I feel if one person who would not have otherwise seen the home comes through and likes it but decides it's not for them, they could tell one more person about it, who will tell yet another person about it. It's like that old commercial I used to see where afterawhile there are thousands of people on the TV screen who found out about the product. Secondly, I typically hold open houses in neighborhoods where I am very active - where I do a lot of listings and sales. Therefore, it gives me a chance to show the neighbors I am active in their neighborhood, they drop by to see me (great PR), and perhaps they will tell some of their friends about the house. That actually happened to me last weekend at an open house and that "friend" will be meeting with me tomorrow. Another reason I like open houses is because it keeps me on my toes as to questions about the house I am trying to sell, questions about the area/neighborhood and it shows people who have their houses listed with other agents that I am working hard to get their competition sold. Lastly, the old reason of placating the seller is true. I do want my seller to see I am trying everything I can to sell their home - although the open house usually will never sell the open house. I also believe in synergy. I feel that if I put energy into something, it will result in more energy and hopefully produce the end goal of a sale.

Betty Jung, Broker, ABR, CRS, GRI, CNHSS
"Successfully Selling Real Estate Since 1975!"
RE/MAX equity group, inc.
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0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sun Aug 9, 2009
Hi Liz
Truthfully, I read your response, and I was exhausted just by reading all the work you are putting into locating, previewing, driving by and exploring homes. That's what your agent should be doing for you! You said you were working with someone.

I mean, go right ahead, if that's how you like to spend your time, that's certainly your prerogative.

Other than an occasional fsbo open house, all the other homes are readily available for your agent to discuss with you, show you, or eliminate because he or she knows it's not the right house for you. Why you would want to "check the house out" before calling your agent I don't quite follow, but then again, I don't have to! Are you afraid of wasting your agent's time? If so, that's very considerate of you.

Honestly, viewing a home with your agent is preferable, in my opinion, as the agent can then see how you react to the home while walking around , and what you do and don't like. I like to think that my buyers and i work together as a team. It's to their benefit that I learn what does or doesn't work for them. I don't expect them to call me once they finally find their dream home. I expect to be part of the ongoing process - it's what my buyers expect, too.

As I said, if you enjoy putting so much energy, and so much of your time into the process......enjoy.

In almost 25 years in the business (and roughly 70% of my business is working with sellers), only 1 home was sold to a buyer who visited my Sunday open house....and that buyer was scheduled to see the home the following week with her agent! As I mentioned, open houses are certainly part of my marketing plan, but they are optional. The usefulness and success of an open house is most likely based on your locale.

With the exposure homes get on the internet today, the buyers ( in my area, at least ) have no problem calling to schedule appointments to see the homes.....they don't want to wait to see if an open house is scheduled - while someone may be waiting, another buyer may be buying.

Best wishes to you in your search.........
Debbie Rose
0 votes
Liz, Both Buyer And Seller, Portland, OR
Sun Aug 9, 2009
As a buyer, I disagree with the agents who prefer to avoid open houses. I am patiently waiting for the right house to purchase and I do not have to sell my current home before purchasing another. I have identified the agent I will use to purchase my new home when I find the right one. If I don’t find it on my own, using the MLS, she will find it for me. We all know that buyers utilize the internet to search for homes. When I find one that comes close, I add it to my list. I drive by, I research and I watch for an open house. (They are rare.) Because I have time on my side, I choose to check the house out before contacting my buyer’s agent to view the home. I can often eliminate the house simply by visiting for an open house. Conversely, I recently called a listing agent and asked to view one of her listings while my agent was out of town. She asked very pointedly why I was asking to see the house without an agent. I told her and also told her if she didn’t want to show me the house, I would wait for my agent. But I also asked her if as the sellers’ agent, it wasn't her job to show the house to prospective buyers. At the viewing, she knew all sorts of details about the community and property that my agent never would have known. So wasn't the seller better served by her showing the home?? As it turned out, the house was not for me. But, it WAS for a newly relocated business associate of mine. I told her about the house and 3 days later she toured the house and will put in an offer. I have purchased 7 homes over the years and currently own 3 of them. 3 of the homes I purchased I did so after viewing them at an open house. As to having an open house after the home has been on the market for months? I think it is a great idea. To a buyer, it shows that the seller is still proud of their home and confident enough of the condition and desirability, that they want to welcome people in to see it. As for the ‘lookie lous’ and neighbors? You should hope they will come to view your open house. They all have friends and relatives who are potential buyers, and also, those neighbors are an asset to you selling that home. I want to buy a house in a friendly and supportive neighborhood. ( it is also a great motivation to get the sellers to have their house in tip top shape, some are far more concerned that the neighbors see a clean and orderly house, than that some nameless stranger trolling homes with her agent see the dust bunnies) I recently had a casual conversation with an agent, who sniffed and told me SHE and her husband are a finely tuned selling team and they do not have to hold an open house to sell a house. I pondered that comment and realized I would never use a selling agent who was not willing to use all of the sales tools at their disposal to sell my home. And by the way, I get a chuckle out of an ad that reads ‘motivated sellers’, after a house has been on the market for many months. No they are not motivated sellers, if they were, they would have lowered the price to reflect the market in their neighborhood, and they would get their agent off his/her laurels to hold an open house. I searched the ads and listings today, (sidenote, Oregonian classified ads suck) and added 2 new listings to my wish list. I am going to call the agents and ask when they plan to hold an open house, and no, I will not give them my contact info, so don’t ask. ( but I will sign the guestbook and give contact info at the open house) Lastly, as an agent, do not judge me and my hubby by the way we are dressed or the car we drive to your open house. Chances are I just dragged him out of the garden on Sunday afternoon because that house up on Cross Creek FINALLY got their price down and held an open house. We have the savings for a healthy down payment and the income to pay the mortgage with no contingencies, we should look darned good to you.
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Carla Muss-J…, , Portland, OR
Wed Aug 5, 2009
I would caution about open houses in this day and age. Having your home open for anyone to enter is not prudent. Since I'm not going to state the obvious, I wouldn't want "just anyone" to come into my home. And that's what you do with an OPEN HOUSE -- open the door for just anyone! If your home is listed with a licensed Realtor(r), they will post your home on the RMLS. Then homebuyers working with licensed agents will have access to your home -- through the LOCKBOX, which records entry. Also, the homebuyer will be (hopefully) pre-approved -- their information (their home address, employer, etc.) is all documented. The buyers' agent has a duty to finding out WHO they are working with. If they aren't checking out their buyers -- SHAME ON THEM!! IF your home is, in any way, tampered with, there will be a record of all entries. An open house does NOT provide the homeowner with ANY peace of mind -- IMHO. Don't you want to know who has been in?

Secondly, an open house is a tool most listing agents use to get more business -- for themselves. Since it's rare that an open house will mete a sale, the listing agent uses the open house to talk and meet -- BUYERS!


Carla Muss-Jacobs, Broker/Owner
EBA Portland, LLC
Your Exclusive Buyers Agent
Assisting Buyers in the Metro Portland Area since 1999
Web Reference:
0 votes
Phil Anderson, , Portland, OR
Tue Aug 4, 2009
Just like the real estate business, open house success depends on the local market. Maybe in California or Florida they are still valuable.

In the Portland, Oregon, metro area, as some said below, if we get half a dozen lookers over a 3-4 hour period, we are lucky. And usually half of those are neighbors who just wanted to see what the place looked like.

I'm sure your agent has taken care of this and is doing all he/she can, but make sure your home is priced aggressively, and that the photos you using on the MLS listing are GREAT! Sometimes that means hiring a pro photographer.

How easy is your home to view? "By appointment only" homes get 50% fewer viewing. Make sure the listing language (in the Broker's Remarks...which are not public) mention what a great house it is and that it is VERY EASY TO SHOW if you need much notice to vacate.

Just my 2 cents worth. It's a tough market and 3 months is not unusual. Good luck to you.

Phillip Anderson
New Portland Home
(503) 789-8701 Direct
0 votes
Lisa Bolanos…, Agent, Blue Jay, CA
Tue Aug 4, 2009
Open houses are as successful as the agent who holds them open. Many agents do not believe in the value of holding a house open. I do believe there can be a benefit. I don't think an open house is the answer to selling a property but it does expose your property. As to other answers, if your home has become stale on the market there is a problem and it goes back to either you or your agent.

I have said this before. I believe in telling it like it is . . . if your home is cluttered and full of junk it will not show well, open house or no open house. Strange paint colors turn people off. I always say people can't see beyond what they see when they enter the front door. If it honestly is not you then it is your agent. Your agent is the professional. Your agent needs to tell you what your home is worth so it will sell. If you chose not to listen then it is on you but if someone will not listen to what I know, through experience and research, then I would rather not have their listing just to have a listing. It is not worth it for either party. Good luck and I hope your home sells quickly.
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Mon Aug 3, 2009
To answer your question, in my opinion, open houses are not necessary. An open house may be part of a marketing plan, but it is way down on the bottom of the totem pole as far as I am concerned, and as far as what is most effective in selling a home. The National Assoc. of Realtors put out a pie chart (from 2008) showing where the buyers come from (this is based on national information.) Open houses don't even make it to the pie chart with a significant enough percentage to rate a wedge of that pie!! Actually, the top 3 sources on the chart were the Internet, realtors (MLS) and for sale signs.....

I am told that in NYC, open houses are more successful, and a main part of marketing, but here in the suburbs, it isn't so. So, I guess it mainly depends on your area, too.

Here is who comes to an open house : neighbors.......buyers who are just starting to get a sense of the market...... curiosity seekers who want to see what a home in your neighborhood looks like...... buyers whose agents "sent them' as they were too lazy to bring them to see the home themselves......and wanderers who have no idea what the price is when they walk in, as they came because of the signs. On a rare occasion, you might get a real potential buyer....but more than likely, that buyer, if they are serious, would have wound up coming to see the house with an agent at some point. The biggest benefit of an open house (in my opinion) is that it may bring in new buyers (or sellers) for the agent. In 24 years I have sold 1 house to a buyer who came to the OH, and she was about to come the following week with her agent anyway.

There is no quality control with an open house.Many who come have no idea of what a "pre approval" is. It's more of a tool for agents who want to cultivate new customers. Often newer agents offer to sit on open houses as a means of picking up new business.

Bottom line - it probably won't help., but it probably can't hurt. One thing I'd advise against, is any kind of weekly open house - looks too desperate to me.....

Open houses are like grabbing the proverbial brass ring on the merry go-round - once in a while someone does grab it, but not often enough to make it worthwhile trying.

Good luck to you Macbath!
best wishes....
Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
0 votes
Margaret Osc…, Other Pro, Albany, GA
Mon Aug 3, 2009
Think that dozens of home buyers come through homes at open houses? I know in our area it's considered a great success if six groups come through during an open house. Many agents prefer not to do them -- if they are marketing effectively on the internet and with other agents I think that is more effective. Are your photos online fabulous? Over 85% of home buyers look first on the internet when shopping for homes. I personally love open houses and think it's a way to create a "buzz" about the house as Thomas put so well in his answer, but not all agents agree!
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Thomas Dwyer, Agent, Charlotte, NC
Mon Aug 3, 2009
The effectiveness of open houses is an often debated topic. I would say you should never rely on an open house to sell your property, but it never hurts. Real estate is a numbers game and the more marketing you do, the better your chances of success. Often times 'nosey neighbors' might have friends or family that are interested in moving into the area and can be a great marketing tool. We always personally deliver flyers announcing open houses to all the neighbors when we hold one, and encourage them to drop by. Theft can be an issue but is easily controlled by putting all valuables and prescription medicine (number one item stolen, sadly) away before time, and having two realtors at your open house, one to greet and one to accompany guests. The odds of selling your home at an open house are slim, but it is another way to get "the word out" about your home. In the market we have, why not have an open house ? Hope this helps - Tom
0 votes
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