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Do open houses work?

Below is a first-person summary by a broker/Realtor about the effectiveness of open houses:


Welcome to the public weekend open house: 


My wife and I have sold almost 500 houses in 19 years. 

We have experience in good and bad markets.

In my experience, there is no correlation between houses we hold open a lot and houses we do not hold open at all and how fast or at what prices they ultimately sell for.

Why are open houses done in the first place?

This is a question I have had for many years.

Prior to the Internet and the sharing of MLS data to consumers, the only way people found houses was to drive around or go to a local office because there was no way for consumers to know what product was available.

Today, most buyers that are going to buy now are probably not driving around looking at open houses.

The serious, qualified, and motivated buyers are usually working with an agent that is using the live MLS to find them a home.

These buyers also have access to homes on the internet themselves through, Zillow, and other sources and can schedule a private showing at their convenience with their agent.

Why do some agents insist on open houses?

To attract other sellers. Your home becomes a temporary office for the fledgeling agent and those without proper marketing techniques.

It is a good way for agents to find local neighbors that may be thinking about selling and to prospect for potential buyers for the future.

It can't hurt, why not just hold the house open?

Typically, some agents do not want to show houses when the other agent is there.

Nor, if they have a "ready, willing, and able" buyer, do they want the listing agent to have contact with their buyers directly.

So, it is possible that the open house could actually have an impact on a weekend showing that would have occurred through the lockbox.

One significant negative is the potential liability. Do you have a pool, valuables, prescription medications? All of these could increase your risk of loss or liability.

What about the real estate agent open house for other agents?

These are called "broker's opens" "broker open houses" or where the house is held open for brokers and agents.

I find that agents with buyers and agents active in the market will preview homes for themselves and their clients whether or not I am there holding it open or not.

That is what the lockbox is for.

If your market doesn't use lockboxes, it's the a way for the some brokers to see the house for the first time.

However, there is no guarantee the brokers actually have a client in mind for the house. So, you are potentialy getting "traffic" through the home that does not result in a sale.

Why do brokers do "broker's opens"?

In very rare cases, and if your market doesn't use lockboxes, its the only way for the broker to see the house without bothering the seller with an appt.

Ultimately though, the buyer will have to see the home and usually are at work when brokers tours occur renderring them virtually pointless.

It is a fun and a great way to meet other agents.

I did many of these.  I used to make lasagne and give away free Oakland A's tickets.

However, I could never pinpoint a sale from this activity that would not have occured despite the brokers open.

In my opinion, it is more of a social networking for agents than any thing else. 

The problem is, it may not really help to sell the home.

By Diane Tuman

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  • Last edited October 12 2012
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