Open houses are a go-to tactic for selling homes and can be a useful tool in marketing a home, attracting interest, and engaging buyers. A well-executed open house can save time and money by engaging with multiple buyers in a small time frame.
What is an open house?
An open house is an opportunity for potential buyers to come check out your home or property in person. Open houses are generally open to the public, so people can drop by without an appointment, to view and explore the home.
Do open houses still work?
The way people find homes is constantly changing. In today’s real estate market, most people will find and research a new property in-depth online before they go to see it in person. A study by the National Association of Realtors revealed that only 6% of people found their future home by visiting an open house.
More than half found their new home online. The number of people under 30 were even more likely to find their new home with an online search. This doesn’t mean an open house isn’t useful, but it does mean that it serves a different strategic purpose than it would have in the past.
The pros of open houses
An open house helps you to reach more people, engage buyers, and gives potential buyers a chance to build their own relationship with a home. Open houses can help escalate a sale and convince customers who are intrigued by what they’ve seen online.
Some research suggests that open houses result in a higher sale price, especially when the home is well staged.
Holding an open house on a weekend in a high-traffic neighbourhood lets people discover your home and stop by to see it for themselves. Even though many people will see your home online first, some may see a roadside sign or drive by an open house while visiting friends in a neighbourhood they’d love to live in.
Build rapport with prospective buyers
An in-person conversation allows for a personal connection between the seller and the buyer. An open house gives a realtor or seller a chance to respond to specific concerns, highlight special home features, or employ certain sales tactics based on the buyer’s approach and temperament.
The cons of open houses
A fast-paced competitive real estate market might not support the need for an open house for your home, and you might prefer to stick to individual appointments or viewings for other reasons. Here are some drawbacks to hosting an open house:
The rise in online searches
Finding homes online means that most buyers already have a chance to explore, peek into your home, and consider whether it’s right for them. That’s why some sellers prefer to schedule personal visits instead of adhering to a more open viewing time.
Online searches allow buyers to narrow down homes rapidly by details like number of rooms, area code, and keywords like “pool.” All the details and information about the home are now readily available online instead of only being accessible with an open house brochure.
While open houses are supervised to minimize the risk of theft, they also raise awareness of your home and any valuables in it. If you’re still living in the property, it may feel vulnerable to have strangers in your home. If you’ve moved out already, consider setting your alarm system or leaving lights on so people driving by can’t tell that the house is empty.
An open house can cost money, including an investment in staging the home, and extras like candles or snacks to incentivize viewing. You may also need to hire a cleaner after an open house if groups of people are tracking in mud or using the restrooms.
The COVID-19 pandemic
Current regulations and restrictions can restrict the safety, spontaneity, and opportunity that open houses previously allowed.
How to hold an open house during the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic has added extra work to the usual art of hosting an open house. If you do decide to hold an open house during the pandemic, you’ll want to integrate some new steps for the health and safety of you and your community. Consider these guidelines in addition to following local guidelines, laws, and health and safety requirements for the jurisdiction your home is in:
- Have hand sanitizer and extra masks available at the door, and make sure soap dispensers are fully loaded.
- Encourage a virtual or hybrid tour for buyers first to minimize in-person interaction.
- Schedule open houses so that multiple people aren’t inside the home at once. Viewers should stay six feet apart and all times, and avoid having multiple people inside the home.
- Consider sanitizing all surfaces after every guest to ensure safety.
- Set expectations before the open house so visitors know what protocols to expect.
- Introduce ventilation wherever possible; opening doors and windows, turning on fans, and bringing in air purifiers if possible.
When should I hold an open house?
The best time is dependent on the market you’re in, so this is a great discussion for you and your realtor. In general it’s advised to hold an open house on the first weekend after your property hits the market. Spring and summer are the most popular times to buy a home in most provinces.
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