Should I Have An Open House When Selling My House?

by Mike Holman

There was a recent article in the Globe & Mail where a real estate agent was interviewed about her opinion on holding open houses if you are selling a house.

To summarize, the agent thought that open houses were a waste of time with only nosy neighbours dropping in to check out your belongings.

I disagree.  I think those are the words of a lazy (and quite possibly untrustworthy) real estate agent who doesn’t like doing open houses.

Benefits of having an open house

When I sold my first house, some prospective buyers who had scheduled appointments with their agents, also came on the weekend for the open house. 

Why would they do this?

  • Less structured – They don’t need an appointment, so there is some flexibility as to the time and day when they check out the house.
  • No agent – No need for an agent, which makes things easier to schedule and allows the buyers more time to look at the house without using up their agent’s time.
  • Bring a friend/relative – Easy opportunity to get other opinions on the place.
  • Second look – If you are seriously interested in a house – why wouldn’t you want to have a 2nd or even 3rd look at it before signing your life away?

Is it just neighbours who go to open houses?

Neighbours can indeed be nosy, but they can also have friends who might be interested in moving to the area.  It’s very possible that your eventual buyer will be a result of one of your streetmates who sees your house and tells someone about it. 

The more people are at your open house, the more ‘buzz’ there is and the greater the chance that you will get an offer or have more bidders on your house.  Neighbours will always be welcome at any open house I have.

Casual dropins

Do casual ‘window shoppers’ ever buy houses?  I’m certain they do, because I almost did.

About 10 years ago, I got into the habit of looking at local open houses to get ideas on how to fix my house up.  One rainy Saturday I checked out this one house and fell in love with it.  It was large with a great third story party room (I was single and childless at the time) with a walkout deck.  I thought it was fantastic.

Because I casually dropped in on that open house, I went from being a curious neighbour (I lived on the same street) to calling my agent, scheduling a visit and seriously considered making an offer.  In the end I didn’t because it was a bit expensive for me and it needed some work which would cost even more.

Although I didn’t buy that house, I suspect there are other examples where someone attended open house for ‘fun’ and ended up buying the house.

Why not have an open house?

And really – What is the downside of an open house?  Sure you have to clean up and vacate the place for a few hours, but you have to do that anyway for scheduled appointments. 

Do you want to do everything you can to sell your place or not?

What do you think – Are open houses worthwhile if you are selling a house?

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