Open houses don’t sell houses
Updated: Jun 26, 2018
(the very title of an article published by the Realtor website years ago)
To understand this, you have to know what open houses historically were/are.
Decades ago, before the internet and electronic lockboxes, agents had to host open houses for potential buyers to have access to them and literally grab people from the street to bring them in and show them the houses, in the hope of making the sale.
Today we live in a different world.
Nearly 100% of all home searches are begun online. The Internet dominates this process, making pictures, videos, 3D walk-throughs, inspection and sewer reports, title commitments, sales statistics, walkability numbers, and considerable other information available about the property, the neighborhood, and the city (and, the sellers!) readily accessible. With this information at their fingertips, by the time people would actually go and see the particular property, they have a lot of knowledge and a vast amount of insight to it, and at this point “true buyers” only go there to see if the listing pictures are accurate and to experience how they feel inside the space.
What do I mean by “true buyers”?
From the seller’s perspective, the two things they actually need in the buyer is to be “willing” and “able”. This means that the buyer is seriously considering that very home and has the financial ability to purchase it. These “qualified” and “serious” buyers have these essential things: a pre-approval letter (or proof of funds) for the financing to buy the property, and they have an agent who can show them the home (compliments of the electronic lockboxes all properties have now!) pretty much any time they like. And if for some reason these potential, qualified, buyers don’t have an agent, they can always call the listing agent for showing, it is her duty to do so!
If you read articles about open houses, they consistently say that it is not beneficial for the sellers to have them, as statistics show that maybe one of 250 people who come by are actually interested in buying that particular house. The vast majority are the neighbors, people who are looking for ideas for remodeling, or people who are just bored after brunch. Some potential buyers come by in the early stages of their research process just to use this as learning about themselves and their tastes, but sadly also people who look to rob the place, steal something while there (prescription meds, small items, jewelry, even bank account info and sensitive mail, guns, etc), and at times, to harass/attack the listing agent. With dozens of people going through an open house at any given time, it is impossible for a single agent (or even two agents) to keep their eye on them while they are roaming the house and peeking into any place they like …… it is not a safe and beneficial thing for the sellers, period.
Considering this data, why do we still have them? For a couple of reasons, really. One, most agents are not able to have an honest conversation with their clients about what is in their best interests, which is not a surprise with the low entry requirement for the field (two weeks training).
Two, the real reason agents still do open houses in most cases is to pick up buyers. Think about it-if serious buyers are the ones who review homes in-person with their agents (and these agents protect the home’s integrity by pre-qualifying the buyers first), the biggest reason to have them is for the listing broker to pick up new potential buyers who do not yet have representation! It’s not only that they get paid to list the home, but they actually use the seller’s home for marketing their own services.
Of course, after realizing that this article works against their agents’ interest using sellers’ homes for their own gain, Realtor.com has removed this very article, but fear not, there are plenty more to support these very facts.
It is always the seller’s choice to decide if they want to show their home to only the people who are interested in that very home and have the money to buy it, or if they want to help their listing agent to get more clients and have it open for all the neighbors to see. But don’t tell me that at least one agent didn’t warn you about it! That said, when I represent you and you want me to use your home for my own personal gain and marketing, I’m happy to do it! Thank you!!!!!