Open Houses in the Modern World

Bring on the Looky-Loos!

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Q:  Marsha, my home is on the market. My Realtor wants to have at least two open houses a month. We make the home immaculate and leave for three hours on a Sunday. I’ve heard mixed opinions as to whether open houses work with today’s internet buyers. Thoughts?

A:  You are right; open houses are a debated issue. I’ll give you some pros and cons along with my personal belief. (Spoiler alert: Open houses work.)

There are four common arguments against open houses: (1) They only benefit the Realtor and won’t sell your home; (2) Noisy, intrusive, and non-purchasing neighbors; (3) Security issues; and (4) It’s an old-fashioned and dated selling tactic. I’ll tell you why none of these arguments is a good reason to avoid open houses.

The thinking runs that the Realtor only utilizes the open house to promote herself. The people the Realtor meets at open houses are quality contacts … for the Realtor. They are actively looking to purchase, and if they have no representation, the Realtor has made a great connection.

Even if this is true, so what? Buyers are attending the open house because their agent sent them, or they’re a neighbor, or they saw the home online. You never know who will want to purchase your home. The agent is there working hard and building relationships. The truth is that open houses help to sell the home. Buyers go out into the community and talk about the home they visited. The home is getting exposure.


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Open-house naysayers always mention “looky-loos” — non-buyers who come snooping through your home. They have no interest in a purchase, but rather are your intrusive neighbors poking through your closets.

Bring on the looky-loos! Neighbors are wonderful! They already live in the neighborhood and love the area. They also have a vested interest in seeing your home sell for as much as possible. They are your cheerleaders for the home. The more people who attend the open house, the better. Activity begets activity. An exciting and infectious buzz is created.

There is the legitimate question of security. Are thieves masquerading as buyers? With proper precautions, risks are greatly reduced. Put away your valuables, don’t leave personal information around, and hide all prescription drugs. If the home is large, have two agents there. 

Finally, some think that open houses are out of touch and old-fashioned. Today’s buyer has done his internet research and knows the home before he visits it. As many clicks as your home may generate online, no one is going to purchase a home they haven’t visited. Open houses are deeply rooted in real estate culture for a reason. Buyers need to see, feel, smell, and touch the home. We live in brick-and-mortar homes, not in the Cloud.

Marsha Gray has worked in Santa Barbara real estate for more than 25 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, where she helps her clients buy and sell homes and with lending services. To read more of Marsha’s Q&A articles, visit MarshaGraySBhomes.com. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or MarshaGraySB@gmail.com.

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