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Should I Have an Open House to Sell My Home?

do open houses sell homes Every home seller at some point wonders “do open houses sell homes?” Or should I have an open house?”

For some sellers, open houses are just a massive inconvenience.  The house needs to be cleaned, the kids and dog need to be packed up and they need to find something to do for a couple of hours for a few, potentially unqualified buyers to maybe come thru their home.

For other home sellers, they think, especially as their house sits on the market with few to no showings, it is the chance of selling their home and be able to move on to a new home. 

Open House Case Study- Do Open Houses Sell Homes?

I did two back-to-back open houses on a listing of mine one weekend one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  I knew I was going to write this article so I really probed the visitors. 

In two open houses, I had 15 groups of visitors. 

Four came with their agents.  Great!! But guess what? They would have scheduled a showing to view the home anyways.  The open house did not bring the buyer in the open house was scheduled during their round of viewing several homes of interest on that given day. They would have scheduled a showing regardless of the open house.

So out of the other 11 groups that showed, not one was wanting to buy or in the position to buy.  So that begs the question, who really is showing up at open houses and do open houses really sell homes?

What Is The Purpose of an Open House?

First, let’s look at the purpose of an open house. 

On the surface, an open house is a general invitation for anyone to stop by a view a home.  ANYONE!! Great, you get eyes on your home.

But, the point isn’t to get anyone to view your home.  The point is to sell your home.  You want a very specific person to view your home.  The buyers that come thru the door need to be qualified to close on your home in the next 30-60 days.   Not a curious neighbor and not a buyer researching for a purchase one year from now.

Who Shows Up at Open Houses?

Every weekend there are hundreds and hundreds of open house in Middlesex and Essex Counties.  But who is really attending these open houses?

The Nosy Neighbor

Oh, I don’t want to sign in…. I am just a neighbor I wanted to see what they did with their kitchen….   As real estate agents, we hear this all the time.  Just a curiosity seeker getting ideas for their home or they are just downright nosy.  

And they are the worst type of open house visitors because they want to share how their home may be better, what’s wrong with the neighborhood, what neighbors are bringing down the neighborhood…. and on top of it they are saying this in earshot of other open house attendees.

Time Killers

These are just the ones stopping by because they saw the sign and they had some time to kill on their way to a family barbecue. They were just curious. 

Or, you hear “I have always admired this house, I know I can’t afford it but I just needed to peak.”

The time killer wants to make it clear they have a house they don’t plan on selling or buying but were driving by and wanted to take a quick look.

do open houses sell homes?Future Buyers

So in this case study, this was the largest group that showed up. 

Buyers that are not yet pre-approved by a bank to buy.

Yes, they maybe have the want to buy but they are not physically able to buy in the next 60 days.  That certainly does not do my seller any good! They are just using your house.

The Truly Unqualified Buyer

This happens to me often… I have a couple who goes through an open house, they seem to love it.  So I ask them, are you ready to put in an offer? 

Their response is how much is it?  Yep, its about a hundred thousand over what they can afford.  Of course, they love it.   They were just out at other open houses and saw the sign so they thought they would stop….. bummer.

A Potential Buyer

There certainly is a chance a bona fide buyer can come through.  But in my experience, they are the smallest segment of people who show up to an open house.  Serious buyers are working with agents and are scheduling showings the minute a home comes on the market.  They are not waiting for an open house.

An open house is perfect for many of these folks as they try to avoid signing in and hope you won’t engage with them.  For many open house attendees, they just want to satisfy their curiosity on their own terms with no intention of buying.


Safety Concerns of Open Houses

Of course, safety should be a concern as in recent years we have read about burglars using open houses to case a home or an agent has been killed at an open house.

Your agent should have safety measures in place to protect themselves.  As a homeowner make sure you remove all valuables and medications from your home during open houses to prevent theft.

Statistically, Do Homes Sell at Open Houses?

First, out of the 15 years I have been practicing real estate,  I have only sold two houses as a direct result of open houses.  Nationally speaking less than 2-3% of the homes sold are a direct result of an open house. 

In this day and age the internet allows home buyers to see most of what they need to see of a home until they are ready to come out of the wood work and buy.  Then they contact an agent to schedule a personal showing.

Personally, I Want Buyers to Schedule Showings With Their Agents

Yes, I want real estate agents showing my listings to their prospective buyers.  Why?

Most buyers have developed a rapport with their buyers agent.  I want them to view the home with the perspective of their agent.  Their own buyer’s agent knows what is important to them and what is not. An experienced agent will also be familiar with the value your home presents in the market place and present that to their client.

If the home is right for the buyer they will help them see the value in the home and encourage them to submit an offer.

My buyers don’t go to open houses.  They call me so I can schedule a personal showing for them at their convenience where we can openly discuss the pros and cons of a home.   My buyers trust and value my opinion.

What Others Have to Say About open Houses

  • Kyle Hiscock – Rochester NY REALTOR Kyle feels open houses are old fashion and present more negatives than positive.  With the internet most buyers are doing their home shopping online from the comfort of their home.
  • Bill Gassett – Hopkinton MA REALTOR Bill puts it so bluntly as it is ridiculous to think a ready and willing buyer is going to pass on your house because you didn’t have an open house.  NO!  They are going to call their agent and schedule a showing.
  • Debbie Drummond- Las Vegas Realtor The only value in an open house is to the REALTOR hosting the open house.  It promotes him or her and produces future leads.
  • Dustin Brohm- Salt Lake City UT REALTOR Dustin provides a quick video on why open houses don’t sell homes and how agents really use them to market themselves.
  • Marketwatch market watch points out open houses are archaic with the advancements of the internet.

Who Benefits Most From an Open House?

Weekend after weekend you see hundreds of open house signs, so you think they must work….  You are trained to think they work…

They do…. for the real estate agent!  Open houses make an agent visible to the community.  They get to put up their signs and it gives  people the notion they are busy.  Open houses also puts the agent in touch with tons of future buyers and sellers it is a good lead generation for many real estate agents.

Agent who like to do open houses do so to generally secure more business.  

So Should I Have an Open House to Sell My Home? My Take

My policy is I do one open house when your home is new to the market and than one after any significant changes like a price drop.  I will not do open houses weekend after weekend.  When it comes time to show and sell your home, as stated earlier in the post, I want agents showing your home with their clients.

Personally, if you decide not to do an open house you are not hurting your chances of selling.   Today’s home sales are more about leveraging the internet with good information and great real estate photos.

There should be much more to an agents marketing plan that sitting around doing open houses every weekend. 

Really the open house is a throw back to pre computer/ MLS days.  A buyer had no idea what a home was like until they got into it.  But with the sharing of listings in the MLS and advancements in delivering information to home buyers the open house is not nearly as crucial as it used to be.


Do Open Houses Selle Homes? is provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate of Tewksbury MA.  If you are thinking of buying or selling, Kevin is happy to answer any of your questions  and can be reached at 978-360-0422 at anytime.

Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding area- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford





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  • Special Ed Haraway
    March 13, 2017

    Great article, My experience exactly. After 30 years in the business, open houses are a waste of time.
    -Ed Haraway
    EXIT First Realty
    2139 Espey CT
    Crofton, MD 21114

    • Massachusetts Realtor
      March 14, 2017

      Ed I do occasionally do them and always walk away wondering why I didn’t stay home and watch the grass grow….

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