What Most People Get Wrong About Open Houses

published Sep 17, 2018
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If you’re selling a house, one of the first things you may want to do is hold an open house. While opening up your doors to potential buyers might seem like an effective way to sell your humble abode, it might not be worth the hassle.

Joe Cleary, owner of The Cleary Group in Florida, says that open houses are slowly becoming a thing of the past, largely due to advances in virtual listings and home tours. He bets the grand majority of people who are seriously interested in buying a home have already seen the house online and have begun working with a real estate agent to see it in person.

And what’s more, in his 20 years in the real estate industry, Cleary says that he cannot remember a single sale attributed to an open house (he’s held over 100 open houses during his career).

“Typically, you get the nosy neighbors in to see what sort of upgrades have been done so they can compare their home to the open house home,” he says. “Finding a buyer during an open house is like finding a needle in a haystack in my opinion.”

What’s more, Cleary says that there is no way to know if a buyer at an open house is even financially qualified to purchase a home.

Eileen Oldroyd, owner of Oldroyd Realty in Southern California, agrees that open houses are generally more of an inconvenience for sellers. “I’m very honest with them about the pros and cons,” she says. She warns clients that visitors may open drawers, cabinets, and jewelry boxes—and makes sure to let them know that there is a risk of theft. The most common items that are stolen? Medicine, like painkillers and tranquilizers, she says.

“There are people out there that consider open houses their hunting grounds,” Oldroyd says. “I don’t tell them this to scare them, I tell them to keep it real and educate them. An educated client is an empowered client.”

Of course, both Oldroyd and Cleary say that they will always hold an open house if their client really wants one. But if you’re looking for the most effective selling method, Cleary says that getting online is your best bet. “Nobody uses the newspaper any longer to see what open houses are being held on Sunday,” he says. Cleary mainly uses online ads, strategically posting an attractive picture of the front of the home. “I also rely heavily on social media by placing my listings on my company Facebook page, on Pinterest, and on Craigslist.”

When it comes to selling a house, it’s generally best to trust the professionals, Cleary says. It may be time to switch out the cookies and lemonade for a few great pictures posted online. It will save you and your agent time, and it will sell your house faster.