Monday, February 26, 2007

Open Houses—Do they Work in a Buyer’s Market?

A homeowner just put their house on the market and their real estate agent recommends an open house every Sunday until the home sells. Is this a good idea?

A different homeowner lists their home and their agent refuses to do open houses since they just waste time and money. Which agent’s system is correct?

Frankly, I don’t think either of these systems is a good idea. Too many open houses can make a seller look desperate. But refusing to do open houses because they don’t work might not be in a seller’s best interest. As a Realtor, I assess each home and family situation to come up with an open house plan that will work for my sellers.

Homes do sell at open houses!

Do you live in a high demand neighborhood with lots of drive by traffic? Will families be passing by on their way home from church or on their way to restaurants and shops? Is your home priced correctly for the neighborhood?

If you can answer yes to these questions, an open house may be an effective marketing tool for your home. Potential buyers who like specific areas will stop to see what is available. If the home is well priced, I have seen buyers write offers on the spot.

One thing to consider is the internet has changed the real estate market. It allows buyers to be very informed by doing research prior to attending open houses. Often net savvy buyers are working without representation and see the insides of homes only at open houses.

If your home is well off the beaten path or you were the only one in the development to add all of the upgrades, open houses might not be successful. Buyers won’t follow more than 3-4 directional arrows and travel more than ½ a mile out of their way. Likewise buyers are frustrated when they do stop but realize that the price tag is $50K higher than the rest of the neighborhood because there are granite counters, cherry wood flooring and custom birch cabinets. If your home falls in either of these categories, open houses might not be successful.

Does your family situation make open houses convenient?
If the only family time you have at home is Sunday afternoons, it is ok to say no to open houses. Some homeowners want scheduled showings with qualified buyers only. This limits access to your home and keeps “looky-lou’s” to a minimum!

Timing and Duration of Open Houses
For most homeowners, I suggest one open house per month and not longer than 2 hours. (I will do two per month, if the homeowner’s schedule allows.)You should schedule the open house at least one week in advance. This allows time to place ads in the paper as well as on the internet.

Open houses are a valuable tool in selling your home. To be effective, they must be combined with other tools in a complete marketing plan to sell your home.