Selling your house? There are many tips and “tricks” to getting your house sold — at the right price and quickly — but it might not be in your best interest to hold an open house. There are open house ideas you should heed and open house ideas you should avoid.
- The “Open House” is an outdated model. Almost 90 percent of prospective home buyers search for homes online; less than half of that number visit open houses. Online listings are the #1 source for finding a home, followed by real estate agents.
- Open Houses can be expensive. With the tough housing market, realtors often push for open house ideas, like homes being “staged” — which comes at a price. It can run from about $1,800 on average up to $5,000 — and up! Of course, it is believed that staged homes sell somewhat faster (on average) than unstaged homes and they fetch a slightly higher selling price. Although it costs money to get that extra money!
- Open Houses often don’t attract serious buyers. Anyone can attend an open house; people who are just curious, people who can’t afford the home, and so on. Real estate agents agents have their own open house ideas, including that they can be ineffective in today’s market vs. several years ago. Part of that is due to the lack of urgency to “beat” another buyer to make an offer, as the market can move rather slowly.
- Attend an Open House alone at your own peril. If you, as a buyer, walk into an open house unrepresented (as in, without an agent) you’ll be dealing with the listing agent, who represents the seller’s best interests. Generally, the seller’s best interests are in conflict with the buyer’s best interests. Also, if you get an agent to represent you down the road, there could be a dispute between the agents over the commission.
- Open Houses are free advertising for agents. While the agent is ideally looking to sell the house, they have something else to gain by hosting an open house — gaining new clients. You likely have your own open house ideas — but imagine this scenario if you walk into one unrepresented, as many people do…and tell the agent you aren’t interested in the house. The agent’s response will likely be something to the effect of, “What are you looking for?” and recommend other properties that fit the buyer’s criterion. And thus a relationship is born.
- Beware of agents who want to keep the Open House to themselves. Oftentimes, an ambitious and eager-to-sell agent will want to host an open house as soon as possible for other real estate agents and brokers, to spread the word about the listing. Doing so will make other agents familiar with your house and allow them to recommend it to the right buyers. If your agent doesn’t want to host such an open house might not be very motivated to sell your house as quickly as you’d prefer. It’s also possible that the agent might not want to work with other agents or share the commission.
- Keep an eye on your belongings during an Open House. Yes, it’s true. There are some people with their own open house ideas…and they’re not good ones. People will steal. Not all people, of course, but some people. And if you have items of value — jewelry, cash, prescription medications, small collectibles — in your house, they could go missing during an open house. Putting them in a drawer doesn’t keep them safe, either. Remember that you’re not going to be able to spot every potential thief…and a thief will not be shy about going through drawers, looking under mattresses, or rummaging through cabinets, if given a chance. Play it safe: Lock them up or remove them from the house altogether.
- Thinking one Open House is usually enough. Unless something major has changed since the initial open house — such as a drastic change in price or a significant change in the property (like upgrades, painting, new appliances, new carpet, etc.) — holding more than one open house can work to the seller’s detriment. Of all the Open House ideas floating around, you should consider the notion that holding multiple Open Houses can make the seller look desperate and anxious. It can make potential buyers think there is little (or no) interest in the property and few (if any) offers. Thus, it can lead buyers to think the seller will accept low-ball offers.
- Open Houses aren’t always all that “open.” Sometimes, potential buyers are “screened” before being given access to an open house. This is partially due to the foreclosure rates over the last several years; agents want to know that you’re serious and qualified to purchase the home. They might meet with you in the garage or the den to find out if you’re pre-qualified for a mortgage or if you have the funds to make a down payment. Welcome to the new world of Open House ideas — from the real estate agency’s perspective.
- Beware of “foreclosure tours.” Sometimes brokers take prospective buyers on a “tour” of a handful (or more) of vacant homes. These prospective buyers are generally looking for a retirement or vacation home or an investment property. A significant percentage of those who take these “foreclosure tours” make offers and wind up purchasing property. Keep in mind, this is all without seeing the inside of the house, which always bears a certain amount of risk. For starters, you face a good chance that there are infrastructure problems with the property. And, because you’re on the tour with a group of motivated buyers, the competition for any given property can drive up bids and, thus, drive up the price. Which means, you might not get the bargain you were hoping for.
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when deciding what Open House ideas are right for you. Either way, you’ll want to do your research and make the right decision for you!