Monday, June 25, 2007

Waste of a Sunday....The public open house.

Yes... I am talking about the waste of time that thousands of agents continue to participate in week after week on Sundays....THE PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE.

Nationally less the 1% of homes sell from a public open house. Serious buyers are most often looking at homes with Realtors. So who goes to open houses and why do agents continue to do them? There are a few reasons for both of these questions. 1st lets address who you can expect to show up.

1. Your neighbors - curiosity gets the best of most people. Expect your nosy neighbor to
be there to compare your place to theirs.

2. The "professional" Sunday open home looker - these are the folks that just like looking at
homes. Homes after all are interesting...they all have there own unique features.

3. The Unqualified - If you are selling a home for $600,000 you expect the potential buyers
walking through to be qualified to spend $600,000 right? WRONG...more often than not the
people walking through will be unable to spend the asking price.

4. The "idea" person - this is the person that will walk through the open house to get "ideas" for
their home...could be decorating, furniture, whatever. This person will most often show up at
the more expensive homes where there are things on a grander scale.

5. The "Robber" - although far less common than the above four, an open house is an open
invitation for a potential robber to case your place prior to coming back to get what they

So why do agents do public open house's....there are a few simple reasons.

1. As an agent chances are pretty strong you will meet a neighbor(see above). This is a great
place to establish re pore for future business. Who knows maybe the neighbor is thinking of
selling their home in the near future. If the neighbor and the agent "connect" it could lead to
future business.

2. An agent could meet a legitimate buyer that can't afford the home they are holding public(see
the "unqualified" above) but may be a buyer at a lower price point.

3. Open houses benefit agents seeking potential additional clients/customers.

4. The seller wants them. A seller will only want an open house if they have not been educated
by a good Realtor on why they are a waste of time. An agent that doesn't do much business
will often "sell" this as part of their presentation to the seller, to get the listing. They tell the
seller how wonderful they are and how much "traffic" will be coming through.

5. An open house is a quantifiable action that shows that the Realtor is making an effort to sell
their home. There are lots of things that agents do behind the scenes to sell homes but this is
the one that is physically aparent.

Is it possible that you may get lucky and sell your home through a public open house?....Sure it is but don't expect it. Again nationally, less than 1% of all homes are sold through a public open house. I have been a Realtor for the last 21+ that time I have sold 2 homes through a public open house. I have been involved in over a thousand real estate transactions during that time. Is it any wonder that you see way more of the Sunday open house signs in a down market than you do when things are selling briskly....think about it.

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Rob Beland said...

Great post Bill...

I found your blog while searching for other real estate blogs in Massachusetts. I do mostly commercial real estate but my experience in residential has been such that I agree about open houses is a waste of time. On the other hand, I have found that broker open houses are valuable and if done right can bring in a great crowd and increase your homes exposure.

Bill Gassett said...

Hi Rob,

Agree with you completely...the Broker open house is necessary to expose the home to the brokerage community. I always have a broker tour for my listings.

Check out my Metrowest MA Real Estate site.

David D. said...

I'm with you Bill, it's definitely a waste of time. Here's a poll I found from another blog showing why people do go.

I tell people to keep the potential clients in mind and qualify them first, then open the house. Your readers may be interested in this listing tool to do just that.

Bill Gassett said...

Thanks for you post David. Isn't it amazing how the perception is so far from reality on open houses!

anita lewicki said...

I know were you are coming from with the open house wast of time, and as any good "Ferry" Student who has been tought that open houses are a waste of time, which of course what you said is all true. but.. in most markets, an open house is good. I know in my market. It seems that I need to work a bit harder, then the "Phone call to the neighborhood" the "post card" and the past clients and customers.. holding an open house in my market I haved found that most buyers (besides the tire kickers) are out looking at open houses. feel that this is a much more relaxed time for them to view the home. then if interested they contact there agent or the listing. most cases they have a angent and they go to open homes with out them. for the pure fact that of haveing that freedom.
so.. do I do hopen houses, Yes. do I feel they are a waste like you do? yes, but. lets face it this is a business and yea that is how I get more business. not only buyers, but sellers. because lot of sellers feel if you are selling an home in there area. then you must be the expert on that area.. and what better to have is an expert of the area.

Anonymous said...

Realtors grew to much attitude from the recent decade long boom and are ill prepared to make a living in todays world.

I would much rather visit an open house than have a "buyers agent" troll me around town showing me stuff that I do not want but he thinks he can sell me.

Agents all use the same sales tatics without stopping to think that everyone knows these tatics. We've all been in sales at some point and know what you are doing. So stop using the open house to quiz me, stop pretending to know me, stop saying things like "you can really see yourself enjoying morning coffee here cant you?" and for gods sake, stop thinking that even though I said 2 baths and a double garage - stop showing me one car one bath homes hoping the IKEA laminate will make me forget what I really want.

Sorry Realtors but these are the facts. I actually like open houses for this reason. I can see the place without having to see 5 more I totally am not interested in. Of course the realtors always quiz me but I just tell them I have 10 minutes so please let me look.

Funny thing - a realtor just called me to cancel a private showing at a house I was very interested in seeing - forgot she was going out of town. Yeah right. This is why homes do not sell. The house in an hour away so she just lost her client a potential sale. Show me when its good for me not you.

Bill Gassett said...

Anonymous ~ You sound like the type of client that every Realtor would love to work hard for. (NOT!!) Maybe the issue is you have not taken the time to look for a real pro. There are plenty of agents that just hold a license and don't do much business.

If you are a serious buyer there are plenty of good agents that would listen to your needs and work hard for you. The key is finding one and showing your loyalty back. This way it is a win-win for both parties.