The world of real estate is constantly changing and ever evolving. This means certain practices must adapt. For example in many offices there used to be a book kept at a desk for agents that the office manager would print out and put every new listing in as it came on the market. Agents could flip through it with clients to show them what was available. Obviously this was not the most efficient way to know a markets inventory (not to mention a giant waste of paper!) Now thanks to a little thing called the Internet, real estate has been forever changed. One real estate marketing tool that has continued even with recent changes is the open house. Each weekend you will still see open house signs throughout neighborhoods and realtors waiting for prospective buyers to stop by. This of course leads to the question...do open houses still work?
The National Association of Realtors reported in 2014 that only 9% of buyers found the home they ended up buying through an open house. Buyers are more educated about the home buying process than ever before and with all the websites, virtual tours, floor plans and available information online they can find out everything they need without going to an open house. It used to be hard to find out all the details about a home so going to an open house was a great way for buyers to get inside. Now many serious home buyers prefer virtual open homes. With the click of a mouse they can see photos and find an abundance of information online. They can choose to search for listings based on price, neighborhood and size. While online searching is a great way to go about your home search, there are still benefits to open houses.
Here are a few reasons an open house is beneficial to you as both a buyer or seller....
SEEING THE HOME FIRST HAND
Online real estate searches can give you all sorts of information, but nothing compares to actually seeing a home. Photos can be deceiving with agents only putting up ones that show it in the best way. Viewing it in person changes this. Walking through the front door and seeing what your first impression is. Visualizing where your furniture would sit in the living room. Seeing the actual size of the bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. Taking a walk through the neighborhood to get a feel for it. These things will not come across on a website. It can certainly help you narrow down your choices, but if you want to really get the feel of a home, take advantage of an open house. Of course if you are working with an agent you can set up listing appointments, so an open house is simply an opportunity to swing by on your own time.
OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH A REALTOR
If you are already working with an agent you have someone you can go to with questions. However, if you are in the beginning of your home search you may have a lot of questions about the real estate market. At open houses you will have the chance to meet a couple different agents, ask questions, chat about concerns and maybe find one who can assist you with your home search. At an open house there is no pressure to work with that particular agent and you can decide if it is the right personality fit. If they are the listing agent for the home you can get all sorts of information on that particular property. Because it's their listing they should know the homes history, the pro's and con's, the neighborhood and what the market is like for that area.
This is a big one! Not only does it open the house to potential buyers, but many agents make the rounds on open house Sundays. They are previewing what is on the market for their own clients. Again, it only takes one buyer and that buyer's agent may be out and about checking out the inventory. As a seller it's important to make sure your home is ready for an open house. It should look its best inside and out. Clean, de-cluttered and staged well.
When you list your home you want it to reach the widest audience and an open house is a quick, efficient way to do this. Quite simply, the more people who see your home the better chances of finding a buyer. The person who comes to the open house may not find the home as their perfect fit, but maybe they know someone it would be. You only need one buyer for the home and holding an open house increases the chances that the right person might walk through the door.
FIRST TIME HOME BUYER ADVANTAGE
If you are a first time home buyer, you may find open houses even more useful. Starting your home search for the first time is overwhelming. Going to open houses gives you an opportunity to see all different types of homes all over town. You can check out different neighborhoods and begin to narrow down what you like and don't like. It will also give you a feel for the market...finding out what certain types of homes are going for. An open house can be an excellent tool in your home buying process.
The debate continues on open houses and their effectiveness. However, they are one of the things that have withstood the test of time in the real estate world and probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Whatever your feeling on them is, they are a good opportunity for buyers to see your home and if you are a buyer a good way to check out what is on the market.