Over the last 20+ years I’ve held my share of “open houses,” although relatively few in the last several years…and those only at the seller’s request. It has always been my experience that “Open Houses” don’t sell houses. I’ve never sold the house or condo that I’ve held an “Open House” in. Today, I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune that supports my long held belief. I don’t normally read the Chicago Tribune, but I found the article while using a search engine researching certain “key-words.” I’ve included that article below as it might be good information for those of you that have certain expectations of your real estate agent.
Door is closing on open houses
May 18, 2008
WASHINGTON—Home sellers shouldn’t be upset if their agents don’t want to hold weekend open houses. After all, they usually don’t work.
Some sellers view “opens” as a right. If their agents balk at sitting in the living room for four or five hours on a Sunday afternoon waiting for prospects, they feel cheated.
Others see it as a necessary evil. Though they’ll have to make the beds, clean the kitchen and get out, lock, stock and family pet, many sellers believe it is imperative that agents allow anyone and everyone to traipse through.
But according to the latest profile by the National Association of Realtors, only 7 percent of buyers visited open houses as a first step in their hunt. Most now start on the Internet.
That’s not to say opens don’t work. They do help turn up new clients for your agent in the form of potential sellers. They also produce potential buyers of other houses.
But as a selling tool? Not hardly, according to NAR.
Of course, that’s not always the case. In the last two years, Carrie Georgitsis of RE/MAX Signature in Chicago, has sold maybe eight homes to buyers who saw it at an open house.
The third house that Kris Coutant of Balfour Realty in Glens Falls, N.Y., sold was at an open. “I had never met the buyer previously,” she recalls. “She walked in, decided it was exactly what she wanted, and we wrote the contract right there.”
For the most part, though, agents, especially experienced ones, prefer not to hold opens unless their clients insist. And even then, they’re more likely to persuade the rookies in their offices to baby-sit the house.
Robert King of Charles Rutenberg Realtors in St. Petersburg, Fla., is one of the handful of realty pros who sees open houses as a good way to stand out, if only because they are so out of favor.
Of the hundreds of open houses Mitzi Romiti of Jobin Realty has held over the years, the Centreville, Va., agent says she’s never sold one that way. And Jim Cummings of Avalar Real Estate in Austin, Texas, recalls selling only one place to someone who came to the open house—a long, long time ago.
“My time is better spent developing and implementing [a] marketing [plan],” says Cummings, a 20-year real-estate veteran who hasn’t held an open the last dozen years or so.
Even in this slow market, opens just don’t seem to work very well.
When houses were selling fast, the routine was to list a home Thursday, hold it open Sunday and collect multiple offers by Tuesday. Buyers had to spend their weekends visiting open houses so they didn’t miss new listings. And they knew the house wouldn’t be around the next weekend.
Now, though, there is no sense of urgency, says Don Fabrizio-Garcia of Keller William CT Realty in Danbury, Conn. “There is no need for buyers to see a home on our timetable,” he says. “They can view homes with their agent on their own schedule.”
If an open house draws any visitors, they are far more likely to be tire-kickers as opposed to serious buyers. Mary Suseland of Cressy & Everett Real Estate in Three Rivers, Mich., says folks in her area have better things to do than visit houses.
When open houses do draw people, says Debra Cochran of 1st Choice Better Homes & Land in Fredericksburg, Va., it is more likely to be someone looking for decorating tips. And Sandra Newman of Keller Williams Golden Star Realty in Paw Paw, Mich., considers an open house a success if someone shows up.
“Even if they don’t care for it, they will tell someone else,” she says. “It is free advertising.”
Then there’s the feedback aspect. Lookers will tell your agent what they don’t like about the place. If you get similar reactions from other buyers, you’ll know what needs to be addressed.
Still, if you are going to insist that your agent hold an open house, you might be better served by persuading him to schedule it during the week so other agents can preview it. Then, if your house fits what one of their clients is looking for, the agent can bring that shopper back for a private showing.
Write to Lew Sichelman c/o Chicago Tribune, Real Estate, 435 N. Michigan Ave., 4th floor, Chicago IL 60611. Or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Answers will be supplied only through the newspaper.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
United Feature Syndicate
Principal Broker, ABR, e-PRO
President – Kauai Board of Realtors 2008
Kauai Landmark Realty