Open House Attendance - Up or Down - More Buyers or Less Buyers Using Open Houses?

Asked by Deborah Madey, Brick, NJ Sun Nov 25, 2007

This question is for both Pros and Consumers. I hope we hear from both. In the recent months, I have noticed more serious buyers attending Open Houses. It used to be that it was unlikely that a buyer actually bought the "Open House" (however, I have definitely sold an OH to an OH attendee!)
Recently, I have been finding buyers who come to the open house with the specific interest in that property and they are active buyers. It seems to be following suit in the more pro-active hand-on approach that buyers take in the real estate process. Buyers, is this true? Pros - are you seeing this in your market? Does this mean the value of Open Houses is now greater for the Seller than in the past?

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21
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
I'm going to answer twice on this thread so I hope that's o.k. Yes, I concur with Lorie as our mid price point sales have vaporized since the credit crater hit in late August. Our sales are down 50% from around the conforming loan amount,$417,000 to about $700,000. However, it's also very "area" specific. But we have many $1,000,000+ homes on the market which still draw many at open houses. This price point has not seen the hammering of the lower price points with the sales numbers remaining at levels of last year with better price stability. These folks have more resources than the lower price points so the quality of the "Lead" generated from the Open House is very desirable. Besides, if you're going to be taking 3 or 4 hours of your sunday for an open house you might as well be sitting in a very nice home!!
3 votes
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
I also think that open houses are one of the keys to selling a house,and more importantly getting out into the community. I think in a market like this us Professionals have to get back to the fundamentals a bit if you will. I preach this all the time at sales meetings, when a consumer hires you to sell there house they are expecting you to do whatever you have to do to sell it. Just taking a listing is not selling a home, there is a substantial difference. Anyone with a license can take a listing, a professional will take the responsibility and earn his commission. This is the staple of our business, a true agent will always go back to what works and that is being a professional and abiding to our principles as agents.

This is a great question but one that should be a staple of any office. When asked by agents what to do in this market and seeing some agents panicking. I always say do what got you here, fundamentals and basic realty 101.

And Deborah my two cents, the winter Market is always made of more serious buyers. Its harder to act like your just looking when your going to an open home Rain, Sleet or Snow. And the second point if they are going to open houses in the winter, and in this type of market, that makes them extra motivated.

So yes, and if your not holding open houses, or sitting in on your own your missing out. Consumers need our help more than any other time in this market.

You have to ask yourself if you are a great agent and you have no business, you need to do whatever it takes to put yourself in front of as many consumers as possible. We need each other, and you need to be out there helping, with so many licensee's leaving the business and discounts thinking they can provide a new business model. Now more than ever we will be utilized by those, that understand. And those that dont, good luck and please always keep my number i know you will need it one day.
2 votes
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
"I hate when I want to see a house that is still on the market, and it isnt having an open house on sunday. It is really difficult for my husband and I to see houses during the week or times other than typical open house times anyway due to work schedules, and we like to see the house during the day time to see what kind of natural lighting it gets."

Well Susan this is were you Realtor opens the door for you at any time. But i forgot you work alone as your only purpose is to get that rebate and have less work on your realtor. I know you think it makes no difference but having someone available at your becking call to open a lockbox, and show you a property is worth its weight. Unless you have bought or been in transactions involving dozens in some cases hundreds of homes, a consumer will more than likely miss important aspects of a home. When your discount realtor walks through if ever if he is cutting corners to give a rebate he might also cut corners on advising you professionally any potential pitfalls. Its all about the money though, right.

Maybe you can get lucky a couple of times, but it only takes one time to learn a valuable lesson.

Good Luck
2 votes
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
As an active "hands on buyer", my husband and I recently started attending open houses every weekend, which we find on our own in the paper. We are typically maybe the only people looking at the house when we get there, but sometimes there might be 1 or 2 other people looking. This is VERY different than our last home purchase in 2003, when you practically had to wait in line to get into the open house.

I love open houses for the following reasons:

1. it gives my husband and I time to objectively view the house on our own without any outside pressure.

2. They are on weekends so both my husband and I can see the house.

Here is what I think could be improved:

1. The hours: Open houses are only open from 1-4PM. It is IMPOSSIBLE to see everything in that time period. It would be nicer if they were open longer so we would be able to see more places. I really appreciate brokers who will open earlier or keep the house open later making it easier to see their home, and plan a route to fit the most possible places in.

2. It would be nice if open houses were easier to find BEFORE sunday. We always have to wait for the sunday paper in our area, which cuts into our sunday morning breakfast and relaxing time, due to having to plan routes, and research each home to see if it is worth a visit. In my old neighborhood, the open homes were listed online starting friday, giving me the whole weekend to figure it out.

3. The "house sitter" isnt always the listing agent and may not be able to answer any of our questions about the house. This is an inefficient use of our time, especially since we are already at the house, and it is better to have that homes questions answered in person while we are there. Otherwise we might forget about the house entirely or not want to bother tracking down agents after the fact for simple things.
2 votes
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
In Georgia the higher priced homes are selling better than the lower and mid priced homes. This has actually increased our median sales price.

Open Houses at higher end properties are doing great here! I know many homes that have sold from an open house. I believe that buyers even those working with agents which account for 85% like to drive on their own and scope areas without their agent.... spending a day checking out neighborhoods and their surroundings. Open houses allow the listing agent to actually sell the home and all that it has to offer.
2 votes
Ginger R., Home Seller, Massachusetts
Mon Nov 26, 2007
May I expand the question a bit? In the past, I thought that open houses were more effective for the low to mid price homes, and useless for high end homes. However, in NYC, I would still see effective open houses for the $1MM plus homes. Can the realtors pls. expand their comments, and tell me if they find open houses more or less effective for different price points? Thank you for your insight.
2 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Hi Deborah:

I have found more buyers walking into my open houses recently, but I tend to attribute that (at least in my area) to the fact that the buyers have been waiting long enough and they are finally ready to buy now.

For my properties that are more in demand (the single family homes - townhomes and condos are very slow here); since my policy is to provide best online presence (not trying to pat myself on the back, but I think that's the purpose of this forum - to bring out what works); I have alwasy been able to attract people to my open houses while other comparable properties seem to be stale from my conversation with other agents. So, yes, online presence works for drawing people in.

The difference I see is that more people are coming out of the waiting game, and are either starting to look or are ready to buy, which is quite different from the summer.. Some have agents, and some don't.

I also think the buyers are more educated due to the internet; they will actually call their own agent (or the listing agent if they don't have one) if they see something interesting and was not open during the weekend. I don't hink we will lose a deal because of the house was not open if the house is priced right and a good property.

Clarification - I do open house for my clients all the time.

Sylvia
2 votes
Ginger R., Home Seller, Massachusetts
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Hi Deborah - This is a really good question. I think here has been an increase in the value of open houses.
I lived in NYC for many years and when I did, open house was definitely the way to go. Agents would attend the open house with their buyers. When I moved to a New England town, I found them much less common. I did however, sell a house through an open house two years.
I do think that this shift is the internet effect. I think we are moving closer to the NYC model. I also think that the increase of inventory makes touring open houses a more efficient approach to viewing than when there is little inventory.
This question made me think!
2 votes
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Sun Nov 25, 2007
I am seeing a real benefit to open houses in this market. I have had so many serious buyers come to the open houses from the internet advertisement. I have not only incorporated open houses back into my marketing plan but I am holding houses open during the week also. I literally take my lap top and portable printer and work at the open house. In Georgia, we have a lot of new construction competing against resales. I have found that the serious buyers are looking throughout the week days and not always on weekends so weekday open houses work great to for additional showings on your properties.
2 votes
William, Home Seller, 18951
Mon Nov 26, 2007
This is a good question. When I hosted a brokers open for my FSBO, an overwhelming percentage of the realtors who showed up said flat out that Open Houses were useless and they never sold a home from them so they don't do them "unless the seller insists - it's just a waste of time."

One realtor piped in and said "not the case for me. I sold 2 homes last year directly from the open house." The other realtors were truly suprised at this answer! Not sure why Open houses seem to have suddenly become effective tools again in this market but it's good to see perceptions evolve and adapt!

For us - the open house was always a great follow-up for showings we got before the opne "Just so you know, we're doing an Open House on Sunday so feel free to come back for another look - we'll have the game on!" A good percentage of our showings took us up on the offer, brought their family and friends, etc.

Our realtors are doing an open house for us this weekend - hope you're right Deborah about serious buyers showing up - Send your mojo out way!
1 vote
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Clearly my last post was misinterpreted. Open houses are convenient for buyers to see homes. Please have more of them. I dont see how every post on trulia always becomes about brokers commissions. It is a total turn off to buyers. If you read my earlier post as to why I love going to open homes, you would see that the main reason is so my husband and I can view the home objectively without "outside influences" on our own time and schedule. This has NOTHING to do with broker commissions.

I am unsure why this realty exec character is always chiming in where I post, and bringing up commissions no matter what I am posting about. It is clear that is what he is obessed about. His post makes me want to view houses even more on my own so we dont get pressured into buying something that doesnt meet our needs, just so a broker like realty exec can get paid faster.

I think if you are going to chime into a post on trulia, please read it all the way through, consider the topic, and try to stay on point.
1 vote
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Well put realtyexec!

An agent here in Georgia actually one a procurring cause case against a realtor whose clients were visiting opening houses because their agent was going to give them a rebate if they found their own home. At closing no checks were disbursed because the listing agent had made a claim for the full commission since the buyer was introduced to the home because of his advertising efforts and shown the home because of his open house. He won the case and the other agent got nothing. Wonder how she handled that rebate then!

Susan... I am all about competition but an agent who offers little or no service is not competition. An agent reducing their service and their responsibilities to you because they have chosen to make less is not what real estate is about and it is an injustice to consumers.
1 vote
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
A great idea, Susan, but probably very difficult to coordinate, especially since it has to be consistent and meet everybody's needs. .

The good time for you and your husband might be from 12-2PM, Monday, but it wont' work for other buyers. So, how do you find a time that's good for everybody?

Now that this is a buyers market, we try to encourage our sellers to cooperate - put on lockbox, call, leave message, and go see the house. Your realtor will need to have a lock box key though.

Sylvia
1 vote
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Another thing that would be nice, but probably impossible is that all houses for sale had an "open time" every week that didnt have to be scheduled with an agent. This way we could drop in without having to coordinate with 2 other people, and see the house. I hate when I want to see a house that is still on the market, and it isnt having an open house on sunday. It is really difficult for my husband and I to see houses during the week or times other than typical open house times anyway due to work schedules, and we like to see the house during the day time to see what kind of natural lighting it gets.
1 vote
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Now this is good data! Consumers explaining to Realtors how they wish we performed. Tell us more!! Thank you Jennifer and Susan. And thanks to Deborah for posing the question.
1 vote
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Hi Susan:

If you were my clients and knowing how you like to operate, I would have found out all the open houses and their hours for you before Sunday; and may even plan the trip for you.

I usually stay later when I do open house also and found more buyers coming in at the last minute - probably because they see my signs are still out. My policy is if you find me there, I will stay for you.

Unfortunately, due to the large inventory and how long the house are staying the market, sometimes we are not able to do open house ourselves. I do explain that to my clients upfront, and I also take turns to rotate the houses. I make sure agents who do open houses for me are familiar with the house, it's features and other potential questions.

At the same time, i am only a cell phone away. You can probably ask to speak to the listing agent if you have questions. The other thing is that you can leave your contact info with the agents and I am sure they will find out the info and call you back - although I do know that a lot of people don't trust agents so they won't leave the contact number.

One thing the consumers should know is that we are aware of their privacy concerns, and we are very respectful of people who do not want to be contacted; so that should really be not an issue; but I understand. .

Sylvia
1 vote
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
I've been monitoring Open House activity and specifically asking the Buyers how they heard of the Open House. Overwhelmingly they are coming off the Open House ad I run in our local daily. Single family detached seem to get the greatest amount of activity followed by area and then price point. In our "Short-Sale" "REO" areas we are seeing little activity and the Condo market is desolate!
I have all my mentorees holding Open Houses in areas above the median price point in great areas of town. The home must show great , have a "buyer incentive" and be easy to find. We can have a property sitting fallow for a few weeks but do an Open House and have 4-10 "Showings" from buyers looking at this property. I also ask all Buyers if they are working with a Realtor/Licensee. Many of our Buyer's Agents are having their buyers looking at property unaccompanied. This is fine with me. I'm not disputing ANY offers coming in on my listings!!! Let's just get our client's properties SOLD!
So as a value to the client, yes! To the Realtor/Licensee-double YES!! If they work it properly, do the literal "leg-work" around the listing to add more clients/referrals to their prospect list and then conduct the Open House with the added marketing idea of perhaps attracting "Sellers" also, then this is a super tool which benefits all!!
1 vote
Francesca Pa…, , Monmouth Cty NJ
Sun Nov 25, 2007
Oops . . . my answer is yes, I see them as more valuable in this market.
1 vote
Francesca Pa…, , Monmouth Cty NJ
Sun Nov 25, 2007
Does this mean the value of Open Houses is now greater for the Seller than in the past?
------------------
I belive it is due to the increase in independence provided to buyers via internet.
1 vote
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Well...maybe all homes for sale should be open for a set # of hours on the weekend so the buyers who want to see the house know it will be open.
0 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Mon Nov 26, 2007
Appreciate your input, Michael.
Deborah
0 votes
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