This has always been a major topic of discussion among any real estate professional circle. Depending on who you ask you will always get a good and what seems like a very rational answer no matter what side they are on. The residential real estate profession is split up into two distinct camps on this issue, those who swear by open houses and those who feel they are a waste of time…at least for them.
I remember an old colleague of mine who felt open houses were a waste of time and he always got his listing clients to agree. Mostly because he really valued his weekends and wasn’t the type of person to sit in a house for 3 hours and be cordial to complete strangers. He would convince his clients that open houses were just marketing tools for agents to pick up buyers, and that no one ever buys a home by coming through the open house. He would state that serious buyers come with their agents during the week.
Home sellers can also be sometimes suspicious and adamant about not allowing open homes on their listings. Depending on what they have been told or conditioned to believe they may sign a listing with the pretense that no open houses be performed for the duration of the listing. I have had such clients, and my position is to comply with their wishes. More often however, you do meet a demanding client who wants the home open every weekend no matter how long its been on the market. Keeping these sellers satisfied, especially in a slow buyers market can be taxing and often the real estate professional will have to solicit the help of colleagues and even offer payment for their time.
In the Santa Clara County area has a very active real estate market. Even in these tough times open houses still attract visitors. Sure every open house has its nosy neighbors, tire kicking buyers, and the curious out of towners who always gasp and make it a point to remind you of what they can buy in their home states for this price. In spite of the riff -raff that they attract they also seem to bring in serious or active buyers.
Although I agree from a Realtor or sales associate standpoint the primary reason and motivation for any open house is to meet buyers there are some other benefits to having your home open on the weekend. From a marketing standpoint anything that helps your home stand out of attracts visitors aids in getting your home sold. Having signs out in the neighborhood attracts neighbors and people visiting friends and family. As many people as you can get to see the home you stand a better chance of finding a buyer directly or indirectly.
Also there is a culture of new real estate buyers out there who are doing it all themselves. They do their research on the internet and are able to ascertain information; listings, recently sold home prices, community and school information. All the information that was traditionally only known by Realtors, is now disseminated to everyone via Trulia, Zillow, and other notable real estate websites. The only ability they lack is access, and for that they will need a Realtor, or they can by pass him through the open house.
This I feel is an important and growing group of buyers. Some brokers will argue that these are the buyers working with discount, rebate brokers, and therefore shouldn’t be accommodated. Whether you feel that way or not, it is a growing group of buyers, and as a listing agent who represents your seller’s best interest you should put these opinions aside. As for me, I do open houses to aid in marketing my listings and to meet new buyers. Having said that, I can not do open houses every weekend, so I make sure I plan them and make the most effective use of open houses early on in the listing.