By Max Mervis
The time has come to sell your house. Now begins the process of cleaning, sorting, primping and staging to create a picture-perfect environment for your prospective buyers. Along with taking advantage of the other marketing tools your real estate agent has in his arsenal, at some point you may have considered the age-old tradition of holding an open house.
Although an open house might heighten exposure to your home, there are varying schools of thought as to whether an open house actually increases the overall chances of making a sale. While some agents who have never landed a sale through an open house might counsel you against it, there are just as many agents who have made sales that insist an open house is an ideal (and even necessary) way to find buyers. While the increased exposure to your home could possibly benefit you, here are several other considerations that might influence your decision as to whether or not an open house is right for you:
Staying Picture Perfect
Maintaining a show-ready house can be hard work, definitely if you have small children and/or pets. Drawing in numerous prospective buyers by holding an open house that lasts just a few hours could lead to fewer private showings, resulting in less time spent prepping and restaging.
Browsing in Real Time
The Web may be the fastest way to find homes for sale, but there’s nothing better than actually walking through a house and seeing it firsthand. Prospective buyers can’t get the full experience online, and don’t necessarily want to feel rushed by an agent. Open houses are leisurely.
You may very well attract buyers who weren’t actively looking, or who don’t have (or want) an agent aiding them in their home search. If that’s the case, they have the advantage of casually visiting an open house rather than having to make an appointment. Often those accidental open house visitors end up making an offer.
The Learning Curve
There’s nothing better than getting live feedback from visitors, or for your agent to get a feel for the amount of interest based on the traffic at the open house. By talking with buyers you or your agent can elicit feedback so you can make changes accordingly, if necessary. This could mean adjusting your asking price, or making any key repairs that could increase the overall appeal of your home.
Open House Addicts
There is some justifiable concern that an open house will draw in casual shoppers that have no intention of buying, such as curious browsers or chatty and distracting nosey neighbors. There are even those who frequent open houses every weekend as an unusual pastime. Unquestionably some (or all) of these visitors may drop in, but to put it in a more positive light, remember that more eyes on your property equals more buzz around town.
The idea of having virtual strangers traipsing through your home unsupervised is unsettling at best. The best method to alleviate any concern is to make certain that all valuables and personal items are locked away or, better still, removed from the property altogether. It’s important to remember that any time a stranger enters your home, there is a risk of theft.
It’s Old School
Some agents believe that since the advent of the online virtual tour has replaced the need for an open house. However, most people agree that a home can’t be fully experienced or completely appreciated through pictures alone. A serious buyer will seize the opportunity to see your home in person.
When allowing anyone into your home be they friends or strangers, there’s always a possibility of something getting damaged. It’s safe to say visitors can often get a little too cozy with your possessions. The resulting damage may be as minimal as having dirt tracked onto your previously spotless floors or something more serious, like a treasured crystal vase being smashed to bits. This is another reason for stashing valuables away or stowing them in a secure place.
In the end, the choice whether to hold an open house or forego it completely rests ultimately on the seller. There’s no “yes or no” answer for every homeowner who’s putting their home on the market, but your real estate agent will be able to help you in choosing the best strategies to market your home.