Open houses…do they work?

| Thursday, July 1st, 2010 | No Comments »

Open houses sometimes seem a little archaic. Before the internet, virtual tours and online photo galleries, an open house was one of the best ways to see homes for sale. Now some agents say they are a waste of time. What do I think? Let me tell you.

Open houses do three things: they bring in potential buyers and people that may know potential buyers, they allow you the opportunity to pick up new clients and they show your seller that yes, you are actually working hard to sell their home. The percentage of recent sellers who say their agent held at least one open house rose over the past five years to 59% in 2009 (it was 49% in 2004) according to research by the National Association of Realtors. My feeling is if you accomplish at least one of the three things above, an open house is worth it. And if its anything like my last listing which sold to the very first person that came through my open house, it is 100% successful.

Does every listing require an open house? No. Some houses just aren’t fit for an open house. Low traffic areas or remote areas will not get as much (or any) traffic as a house in a high traffic area such as East or West of Market in Kirkland. Those areas of Kirkland are not only desirable, they are conducive to a lot of signage to direct people to your open house. Houses that are not in good condition or where sellers refuse to leave for the day are also not good candidates for obvious reasons. If you are going to do an open house, do it right and for the right reasons.

Research shows the best way to generate a lot of traffic to your open house is online marketing and smart pricing. Without these, your open house is going to seem like 4 hours of wasted time. You also need to direct people to your open house with signs and try to capitalize on people who may just be out driving but see an open house sign and deicide “what the heck.” Not every area is ideal for signage and there are other factors that may get in the way (weather, holidays, high interest rates etc.) so I’ve learned not to beat myself up if I have a perfectly great house with a fantastic price but can’t get any traffic through my open house. In that case, its always nice when the sellers are your friends and understand that you might’ve just spent the last four hours on their couch curled up with a good book. Oh well, there’s always next Sunday! So for now I will continue with the somewhat old-fashioned tradition of holding open houses on Sundays from 1-4 (as long as the weather is nice, there are no important holidays and interest rates continue to be good!)

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