I am often asked whether a seller should agree to open houses when they put their home up for sale. Some say it helps the agent find new clients and does nothing to sell the home. Others say it is necessary to find the largest number of potential buyers. Which is correct?
In practice, there are two kinds of open houses. One is limited to real estate agents, so they can conduct research in the area and be able to recommend the right homes to their buyer clients. The second is open to the general public. This can include nosy neighbours who just want to see your home, buyers who don’t have nearly enough money to consider putting in an offer and even criminals who are there to either steal something from the home during the open house or check out the security system so they can come back later.
Open houses will lead to more exposure for your home and more feedback from potential buyers. On the other hand, since we have so much information available to buyers on the Internet, such as video tours of the entire home, wouldn’t it make more sense to wait for a truly interested buyer to schedule a private appointment to see your home? That shows more commitment.
Still, in a seller’s market, where there are more buyers than available properties, open houses are a good idea so the maximum number of buyers can see the property in a very short time period.
If you do agree to conduct an open house, here are some tips:
• Make sure proper home staging is done in advance so your home appeals to the maximum number of potential buyers.
• Do not stay in the house during the open house. You are more than likely to volunteer too much information, including why you are selling. This will hurt your negotiating position later.
• Make sure your agent will be there the entire time.
• It is not against the law to ask for identification in order to allow someone to enter your home. If they refuse to provide it, tell your agent to refuse them entry.
• Sometimes criminals will come in pairs; while one distracts the salesperson, the other is going through drawers. If a lot of people are expected make sure your agent brings an assistant.
• Ask your agent to check all windows and doors before they leave your home to make sure everything is properly secured.
• Remove all valuables or store them in a safe, if you have one in the home. This includes your laptop and any discs that may have your personal information on them.
• Keep all of your bank and credit card statements out of view, as this could lead to identity theft if someone takes them.
• Take pictures of each room so you can check later if something is missing or damaged during the open house.
Whatever you decide regarding an open house, make sure you are properly prepared in advance.