Let's All Ride the Open House Merry-Go-Round!

Real Estate Agent with McGraw Realtors

Ah, the Open House Merry-Go-Round. It's the Open House Merry Go Round!

Do I do them?  Do I don't?  Do I do them?  Do I don't?  And round and round the debate goes.  And the ride never seems to stop.  "Yes, they're great."  "No.  They don't sell houses."  "Yes, I pick up buyers."  "No. They are waste of my time."

No doubt, you fall on one side of the argument or the other.  It seems like I read more blogs here at Active Rain that fall more on the, "No, I don't do them" side of the argument, than I do supporting open houses. 

For me, I do open houses and here's why.  My sellers want me to do them.  They usually don't care that open houses usually don't sell houses.  What they want is every opportunity for a buyer to see the house, be in the house and consider the house.  The small chance that someone will walk through the door at an open house, love the home and buy it is important to most sellers. 

And it does happen.  I have actually sold several houses to people who walk into the open house.  Sometimes they're with their agent and sometimes they have no agent. But even if it didn't happen.  Even if I never sold a single house from an open house, I'd still hold houses open and here's why.

1.  Open houses are good customer service!

2.  Not every Realtor will hold open houses.

3.  I can get an incredible amount of work done during an open house, including blogging.

4.  Open houses keeps me sharp.  I have to be ready to engage the buying public.

5.  Open houses keep me in the house, which keeps the house fresh in my mind.

6.  Open houses help keep me in touch with sellers, which sellers love.

One last reason I do open houses is because, if I were a seller, I would want open houses done on my home and I wouldn't want my Realtor arguing with me about whether or not they are effective.  I hired you, I want this service, now do your job.  It kind of falls under that, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto" thing.

Picture courtesy of Flickr Creative commons:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/janekm/685367561/

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Bob Haywood
Bob Haywood
Owasso, Oklahoma REALTOR®

(918) 272-7272

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Comments (57)

Martin Kalisker
Greater Boston Association of REALTORS - Boston, MA
Professional Standards & Legal Assistant

Bob - Realtor® Magazine ran a great cover article on open houses in May (no self promotion here even though I was interviewed for the article).  Perhaps reading through it will give you some ideas for a better open house.  For me, it's all in the planning and execution - not something planned on a Wednesday for the upcoming Sunday, but somehting that we schedule at least 2 weeks before in order to get the calls, flyers and marketing assistance together.

Aug 01, 2010 10:01 AM
Kathy Fuhriman
Bear River Valley Realty - Tremonton, UT

Open Houses are not widely held here in rural Northern Utah, but I think we need the exposure.  The time has perhaps arrived to utilize all of the tools we have under our belt. I still encounter people once in a while who do not get on their computer much. I am going to be listening to all of the observations from AR'ers about how to hold a successful open.  What times are the best for traffic, what days to hold them, promotion of opens.  I am encouraged by the Sunday traffic, do people catch the opens on their way to or from church, on their way back from grocery shopping etc.  Just curious about the most effective way of getting anyone through the door.

Aug 01, 2010 10:49 AM
Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK

Kathy, I hold opens usually on Sundays from 2-4.  This way I catch the church crowd after lunch.  I do Saturday opens 1-3 and that seems to work pretty well too.  In regards to marketing, I try to post my opens on Facebook and Twitter along with the accompanying blog.  That goes hand in hand, of course, with open signs and flyers.  I don't do snail mail, but some do.

Aug 01, 2010 10:51 AM
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-818-6700 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Hello Bob:


I'm with you.  I do open houses and like to do so. Frequently, I arrange it so the open house is the first day the property is available to be shown and serious buyer can come from anywhere.  Bottom line, is that I have sold 30% of my listings through open house and half of those direct.


Aug 01, 2010 11:00 AM
Liz Ellis
San Luis Obispo Realty - San Luis Obispo, CA

This post JUST cheered me up! I just left my open house today, where I had one neighbor who just wanted to see it....
Thanks for helping me remember why open houses are a good thing!

Aug 01, 2010 11:01 AM
Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK

Liz, Hang in there.  I didn't have any traffic today either, but I got to talk to a neighbor and may have picked up a few leads.

Aug 01, 2010 11:16 AM
John Alesi
Century 21 Award - Mission Viejo, CA
(Orange County California Real Estate)

Reasons to hold an open house:

  • you could sell that house and earn a paycheck
  • you could get a new listing from a lookie-loo neighbor and earn a paycheck
  • you could sign a buyer's contract and earn a paycheck
  • you could meet another agent who has a pocket listing you didn't know about and earn a paycheck
  • you could place your signs on the street increasing your local exposures which will help you earn a paycheck
  • you could send an email blast to past leads and clients which will help you earn a paycheck
  • you could make a few follow up phone calls that could lead to a referral that will earn you a paycheck
  • you could practice and refine your dialogs/scripts which will help you earn a paycheck
  • you could learn more about the neighborhood so you sound like the expert which will help you earn a paycheck
Aug 01, 2010 12:36 PM
Sonja Adams
Keller Williams Realty - Purcellville, VA

I've often brought my laptop and am able to discuss the other homes in the 'hood, because I have to know my competition if people are coming in to my listings...therefore, I prepare with previewing homes ahead of time and am ready to sell my clients home.  If its a light day, then I've done research and improved my market knowledge!

Aug 01, 2010 01:13 PM
Sonja Adams
Keller Williams Realty - Purcellville, VA

I've often brought my laptop and am able to discuss the other homes in the 'hood, because I have to know my competition if people are coming in to my listings...therefore, I prepare with previewing homes ahead of time and am ready to sell my clients home.  If its a light day, then I've done research and improved my market knowledge!

Aug 01, 2010 01:13 PM
Nicole Donaghy
Re/Max Purpose Driven - Lexington, SC
Helping Families Home in Lexington and Columbia

You make some very valid points, however the lack of traffic still keeps me on the other side of the fence.  It's more important to me that I take family time on the weekends than sit in an open house by myself.

Aug 01, 2010 01:58 PM
Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

I don't love doing open houses, but I do them and do them with a smile.  It often gets the house sold, if not to the buyer that walks thru the door, then to the friend of the nosy neighbor that stopped by and loved it.  The added bonus, is that you pick up new leads, even if you don't get the house sold.

Aug 01, 2010 03:06 PM
Roshan Quigley
Weichert Realtors - Manalapan/Marlboro, NJ - Manalapan, NJ

I certainly enjoy Open Houses and do them on a regular basis.  Today I had floor so two agents in my office handled Open Houses on 2 of my newer listings - one had 4 buyers and another 5 buyers - I had 3 buyers call me directly for more information while I was sitting on floor -

great way to meet buyers, sellers and neighbors.  Thanks for the post.

Aug 01, 2010 03:37 PM
Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC - Lafayette, LA

Bob, I share no opinion on what an agent does or doesn't do in their market. The only comment I wish to respond to is the one you make: "what a Seller WANTS me to do". As the professional, the agent ought to be in control of all marketing efforts and focus on those which are apt to produce results. If the market, the home's location, local customs, or other factors don't indicate this event to be effective, and the Open House is merely a means to pacify a seller, then it becomes a task unworthy of an experienced professional.


Aug 01, 2010 05:39 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I think it has to depend upon where you are - and, as Mike Mayer mentioned - local customs. In our area people simply don't attend open houses. I've done them, because the sellers requested it, but there was certainly no benefit to anyone.

I understand that in other places, buyers come out in droves to view homes on the week-end. In an atmosphere like that, I'd be the one requesting that the seller allow an open house.

Aug 01, 2010 06:51 PM
Grant Whittenberger
Outlaw Real Estate Group - Austin, TX

I entered the real estate market with over a decade of new home experience.  Sitting in a model home, I knew that I had to visit with 20 families to get 1 buyer.  A day much less a week with 20 families through the door was rare indeed, but I had to hear a lot on "No's" before I got to the "Yes". 

Open houses were my life and now that I am on the other side of the industry, I truly understand their importance.  Every time someone walked through the door I had to ask the right questions, demonstrate the right features, sell the community lifestyle and do the follow-up.  Most importantly, I had to listen to what the shopper was saying. If it wasn't the home for them, I had to watch them go to a competitor.  Now I have a chance of proving that I am an expert and that I can assist them with their real estate needs.

I say that it is not that open houses are ineffective, but our industry as a whole may not be doing an effective job at getting them done. 

  • Be prepared with the knowledge of the home and community.
  • Anticipate the objections and be prepared to combat them.
  • Have the home in the best possible condition.
  • Listen to what the shoppers are saying.
  • Have the information on the other homes for sale in case your listing is not the one for them.
  • Create a system and do the follow-up needed to convert the shoppers into clients

An open house is an incredible way to keep you in tune with your seller, the buying public, to introduce yourself to the neighbors in the community and to get necessary feedback on the property. 

In a time when it is easy to get listings and more difficult to get buyers, Open houses are a great way to build your client base if done the right way. 





Aug 02, 2010 07:48 AM
Barbara Tretola
RAC Real Estate Associates, Inc. - Massapequa Park, NY

I had an open house yesterday that had a good response, I went thru two sign in sheets. Did I sell it yet? No, but met a good number of buyers who asked if I could help them. This house is priced right and will sell quickly. But in some cases where a house just NEEDS to be seen, pictures do not do it justice, open houses did the trick. One of our listings was just such a house, we sold it at the open house.


Aug 02, 2010 08:20 AM
Carolyn Shipp
Source 1 Real Estate - Mineral Wells, TX
Mineral Wells Texas Real Estate

I used to really enjoy holding open houses in Florida, where I first earned my real estate license oh so many years ago.  But, I live in a small, rural, Texas town now and although we hold open houses, we average one visitor per open house; usually the neighbor.  It is unfortunate that people here do not visit.  We had a beautiful home on a major road for sale.  We advertised and placed a huge banner out in front of the home a week before, letting everyone know when the open house would be.  Not one person showed up.  I was so shocked.  I really thought that because of the location and advertising we would have had a decent turnout.   

Aug 02, 2010 01:05 PM
John Zappia
Maine Custom Realty - Portland, ME
Maine Custom Realty

I do them unless the client doesn't want one...if I don't get any traffic, it's a small period of quiet time to myself...I don't usually bring my laptop to them but agree it's a great time to get some things done...if you approach them with the right attitude they can be a good time and you might even get a client or two.

Aug 02, 2010 02:42 PM
Kristina Heili
Keller Williams Premier Realty - Woodbury, MN
Comprehensive Real Estate Services

Do I do them?  Do I don't?  Do I do them?  Do I don't? It's like plucking a daisy. "I love them. I love them not. I love them. I love them not."

I do open houses only when the seller requests them. I do prepare them psychologically of the possibility of no one showing up (that's happened!), of potential theft (that's happened!), of nosey neighbors who no-they-don't-have-someone-in-mind-that-would-be-perfect-for-this-house (that's happened!). I love it when the seller requests no open houses even before I speak of them.

I've had visitors who absolutely refuse to sign the register, and more often than not, if they do sign in it's bogus information...the email they give bounces back; the phone number is disconnected, and so on and so on!

One of my opens went from Friday noon until 7:00pm that evening. I had awesome catered refreshments and I had invited and then re-invited over 18,000 agents from near and far, plus neighbors. NOT A SINGLE PERSON CAME! You don't even want to know what that cost me!


Aug 03, 2010 11:21 AM
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Bob:  Love your blog, love your point of view, could not agree with you more!  We do two open houses every weekend.  Some times our listings some times other agent's listing.  There are so many individuals out there shopping before they ever meet, interview, or hire a Realtor to represent them and they may become our client they may not but the house will be seen, and who knows maybe they'll want to buy it!  Carrie

Aug 06, 2010 10:12 AM