As I was sitting in a coffee shop on Easter Sunday, I looked out the window and saw an open house sign. My initial thought was who in their right mind would host an open house on Easter weekend?
The debate regarding the value of open houses has been discussed for a long time. Of course there are always the stories "I bought my house from an open house!" . But when I hear those statements I wonder out loud wasYouTube around then, or Trulia or Zillow? With video and stunning photography, is it better to create an open house 24/7 on the net which leads to qualified showings by appointment? Or force consumers to come to an open house on Sunday between 1 and 3, or even worse, on Easter Sunday?
In recent years, I have seen the brokerages and agents benefit the most from open houses as it is an effective lead generation tool for the agent and branding tool for the brokerage. I remember one Center City broker tell me when I was being recruited by their office that what better way to promote his brokerage and brand than by putting out as many open house signs as possible.
Another trend I have seen is that buyer agents are asking if open houses will be happening at certain listings where I get the impression they would rather simply send their buyers to the property and not attend it with them. Sounds a bit lazy to me. Or perhaps that buyer agent is too busy hosting an open house for another Realtor in their office at the same time? And if open houses are falling down the ladder of being that effective tool to get a house sold, is it right to look a seller in the eye and say yes, please vacate your home every Sunday as I am going to use your house as a lead generating mechanism as other sellers nearby will pop in as well as other buyers who cannot afford your home.
And then of course there are the constant stories being told where folks coming into open houses are stealing what they can or sometimes even worse, having a crime committed against the agent hosting it. Unfortunately, there have been several of these stories recently in Philly. So along with your iPad and pre-printed Trend sheets, bring your mace! Obviously vacant homes and new construction projects are exceptions to the above. I certainly am not against the open house strategy, but at the end of the day who does it benefit?
Another good read is from my friend Bill Gassett "Do Real Estate Open Houses Work"?
Now your turn. Are open houses a waste of time?