12 June, 2020
What is an open house and how do I arrange one?
If you are thinking of selling your property, your agent might have introduced you to the concept of an ‘open house’? But what exactly is an open house and will it help sell your home?
An open house doesn’t mean that anyone can just walk in off the street! An open house is an agreed time and date when your home will be made available to a number of buyers to view within a predetermined time window (normally a couple of hours). To attract the most interest, you would ideally want to hold the event on a weekend and within a couple of weeks of first advertising your property for sale.
Even though your home is ‘open’ in that time period, your agent should schedule appointments so they can be attentive to each viewer, keep a record of the level of interest from potential buyers, answer questions and manage the overall event in an orderly fashion. Having some structure to the event means that the agent should get immediate feedback during the open house and be able to diligently follow up with interested parties after the event.
Why would I want to hold an open house?
There are many reasons why holding an open house event might make sense for your property.
- You will have multiple potential buyers look at your property within one pre-arranged time slot. That means less ongoing stress and hassle of trying to manage viewings at different times of the day and different days of the week.
- You only have to prepare once! When it comes to selling your home, first impressions definitely count. It’s important to present your home in the best light possible which means ensuring that it’s decluttered, clean and tidy. Having an open house means that you can prepare your home once and then get back to some ‘normal’ living. You don’t have to spend days or weeks living in a ‘show house’ waiting for the next viewing.
- You can pick a time of day when your house presents at its best. If you have a garden that receives the sun at a certain time of the day, or the main rooms in the house are lighter at certain times, schedule the open house during these periods so your home looks its best.
- You can make arrangements for yourselves, children, pets etc to be out of the way for the agreed time period.
- Your agent can make a ‘big splash’ about the event. With targeted marketing including contacting their database of registered buyers, the agent should ensure the event is busy which will create the impression that there is considerable interest in your home. It is without doubt that open houses tend to create a sense of ‘urgency’ for buyers.
- Buyers generally feel more comfortable in open house situations. With a number of different people in the house at one time, people feel a little more relaxed and will usually engage more with the agent and take their time to have a good look. It can also seem a little more ‘low key’ than a ‘one on one’ viewing which makes some buyers feel more at ease.
Is there any reason not to hold an open house?
Open houses are not for every home! In determining the overall sales strategy for your property, you and your agent should discuss the merits and drawbacks of holding an open house event. Whether such an event is appropriate for your property depends on overall market conditions, the buyers that are being targeted and the specifics of the property. Some of the reasons why you might choose not to hold an open house event are:
- If the overall market is slow and you might not realistically get many potential buyers to attend, it could be a better strategy not to hold an open house and to arrange scheduled viewings instead. Just as a well-attended open house can create a sense of ‘buzz’ and ‘urgency’ with buyers, a poorly attended event might cause an interested buyer to think they have no competition and hence make a lower offer.
- If your home has unique characteristics that are better served by having the agent spend considerable time showing potential buyers around, then an open house might not be the best strategy.
- One other potential shortcoming is that buyers can sometimes feel rushed into making a decision. While creating some urgency and competition can work to your advantage as a seller, sometimes people who feel they are ‘panic’ buying experience ‘buyers remorse’. This is not uncommon and occurs with most home sales, but with open house sales it tends to be a little more prevalent. A good agent will be aware of this and will work hard after the event to calm the nerves of the buyer.
- As the event is limited to a specific period and day, it might be that the ‘right’ buyer can’t attend. But, see below for information as to what happens if your home doesn’t sell at the event or shortly thereafter.
What happens if I don’t sell following the open house?
An open house event is only part of the overall strategy to market and sell your home. Under the right conditions and with careful planning, an open house could well result in one or more offers being received.
But even if your home does not sell at the open house, you shouldn't panic. At a minimum you will receive some beneficial feedback that might help you ‘course correct’ your selling strategy. Buyers might be concerned that the house is overpriced, or that there is a particular problem such as limited parking or too small a garden. All of this feedback can be used to improve the ongoing marketing of your property. At the end of the day, selling your home is about getting the right person through the door. Hopefully that happens during the open house!
Footnote : The above is for general information only. At the time of writing, open house events are not permitted under current social distancing guidelines and advice. The team at Aspire Residential will advise clients when the rules and regulations are further updated by the Government.