Real Estate is Local: Local! Local! Local!

Real Estate Agent with Compass

Open House in Manhattan


Real Estate is Local, Stupid (original title)


In Manhattan




Recently I've noticed a change in Activerain. It's the tone of some bloggers, they're angry arrogant and hostile. Opinions and personal experiences are written as though they are facts. Commenters that disagree are attacked.

Many posts have been written about "Open Houses" on activerain during the past year. Some agents loathe them some agents such as myself love them - I love to throw a party and to work a room.

I never realized hosting an Open House was controversial. Last night I came across a blog bashing open houses which lead me to a link to another anti-Open House blog and the comments and personal attacks to the commenter's who had a different opinion. Since the posts were written over a week ago and I totally disagree with them I would be remiss if I didn't write this post.

And-YET-another-reason not to Hold an Open House The blogger uses a recent burglary in Manhattan as an argument for not holding Open Houses and links to other anti open house blogs. 

Now this might be a perfectly valid reason for a REALTOR® in Orlando to not hold an Open House but an isolated incident has not stopped Brokers in Manhattan from holding Open Houses. New Yorkers are a tough breed. We all need to be more cautious and make sure our sellers lock or remove valuables. In fact it was the broker that caught the buglar red handed. The stolen property was returned. We don't throw out the baby with the bath water. We were attacked on 9/11/01, we will never forget, but life goes on.  

You see contrary to this Blog and to similar blogs from the same blogger and his friends. OPEN HOUSES SELL PROPERTIES IN MANHATTAN!!!! OPEN HOUSES SELL PROPERTIES IN MANHATTAN.

The bloggers from Florida are using a 1% statistic from a NAR survey that says only 1% of homes are sold from Open Houses as their "talking point" They stay on message. They give no other information about the survey or where that number derives from. It's just fuzzy math. Anything from NAR should be taken with a grain of salt.

Since NAR doesn't have a major presence in Manhattan they don't have any numbers from Manhattan...Real Estate is Local... OPEN HOUSES SELL PROPERTIES IN MANHATTAN!

More than 70% of my sales come directly from Open Houses. I host Open Houses to sell my listed properties. I don't hold them to pick up buyers. I usually have another agent with me to watch the crowd or to escort buyers from the lobby. I let the other agent work the buyers. There have been times I've made another sale or listed another seller through an Open House but my primary objective of an Open House is to sell the home. Open Houses sell homes in Manhattan.

It would be presumptuous and arrogant of me to tell a REALTOR® in another market how to conduct their business. However the poster in Orlando advocates telling sellers to throw any agent out of their house and not to do business with any agent that would suggest hosting Open Houses as part of a marketing plan.

Open Houses are an important marketing tool. The goal of my marketing is to get multiple buyers bidding simultaneously on the property. That is my job! The price a seller gets is a function of the marketing you choose. Nothing works better to get multiple bids than orcherstrating the sale by controlling the psychology of the sale activity. Just as the auction houses like Christy's and Sotheby's goal is to get people in the room to get a higher price - get less people in the room get a lower price. My marketing goal is the same.

REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL! If I were as presumptuos as the blogger in Orlando, I would advocate telling sellers "If an agent doesn't hold Open Houses kick them out of the house because they are lazy. They are data entry clerks and not marketers. They put your listing in the MLS and wait for a buyers agent to sell it. They wait and wait. They are passive not pro-active".

In my listing agreement with a seller, either myself or an agent from my office must be present at all showings. Frankly, IMHO if an agent doesn't hold open houses and is never present during showings they are not involved in orchestrating the sale and are not controlling psychology of the sale activity. They're out of the loop.

Florida is not New York. The suburbs of New York are not Manhattan. We don't do signs and lock boxes. Manhattanites work long hours, are paid high salaries, are highly educated, sophisticated savvy buyers and sellers. Sunday Open Houses is when most buyers are available. A Sunday Open House will usually generate about 25 buyers in 2 hours. I can't think of a better way to get that many people to see a property in that amount of time. There is a dynamic at an Open House. Having buyers see other buyers that are interested in the property creates interest and a fear of losing the property. The best offers usually occur within the first two weeks of a listing.

When I list a property I prepare marketing, ads, show sheets, virtual tour, professional photographer, mortgage banker pre-approve the property and do a financial analysis, get the listing on more than 10 websites, create a buzz, send invitations to neighbors during the week. The 1st showing is always a Sunday Open House.

I've had many listings where I have received full price offers from multiple bidders within the 1st half hour. I have also taken buyers to Open Houses where we've made offers on the spot. Usually if I don't receive an offer after two Open Houses I will discuss a price reduction.

Our market can be volatile it changes from week to week. However,  no matter the market condition Open Houses always generate serious buyers. In a hot market or a soft market Open Houses are the way to go in Manhattan.

Real Estate is local. For those that "Never say Never"

Some Pointers for Successful Open Houses:

2 Hour Sunday Open Houses are the way to go for the most traffic but evenings during the week work too.

  • Get there early to set up, open windows, turn on lights, seller should not be home during OH
  • Pets should not be home during Open House
  • Make sure there are no valuables in the home
  • If you are expecting a large turnout, have another agent help
  • Give out show sheets with pictures and all vital information
  • Give out a financial analysis sheet prepared by a lender
  • Have a guest sign in sheet including name phone number email address and name of broker
  • Have offer sheets available
  • Know everything about the property
  • Know everything about all the other comparable properties
  • Display Fresh Flowers


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Neal Bloom
Brokered by eXp Realty LLC - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate

Hi Mitchell,

I have gone with the print ads as well.they just do not seem to be effective for me..I wish they were...and yes-most just put up signs to attract buyers off the street...even the ones who do read the papers generally are just lookers. If I could sell every home I have listed with an open house it would make my life easier. I don't mind sitting. I have als done the email blast but most of the clients i get interested in those homes want a private showing anyway...go figure. I didn't take you title offensively at all just so you know that it doesn't matter to me how you go about your methods. If it works then use them to your advantage.

Dec 19, 2007 11:52 PM #67
Pam Graham
All Real Estate Options - Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville, Clay & St Johns Counties

Mitchell-You're pretty passionate about this topic! I'm not a fan of open houses but I agree that it may work in some areas and not others. I also think it's the attitude of the agent holding the open house. Putting out a sign and hoping someone shows up isn't enough.

I also think you need to be honest with your seller about how you generate leads. For example, I use a toll free number that provides an audio tour of the home. I call the listener back and I try to generate interest in the listing, but if that's not for them, I have other listings from the area as well. No matter what advertising you do, your goal is to generate leads. Some may buy the listing, some may not. They could very well buy another house using your services.

Good post!

Dec 20, 2007 12:58 AM #68
Scott Daniels Florida Real Estate 2.0. Agents Earn 100% Commission.
Florida List For Less Realty, Inc. Broker/Owner. - Cooper City, FL


Glad to see you changed your TUNE!

Dec 20, 2007 01:51 AM #69
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Sylvia, Thanks for stopping by. My attitude is it only takes one. Of course it's much better if you havet wo bidding. We don't have signs anywhere. So the only way someone knows an apartments is for sale is either through their agent, internet, newspaper, friend, or doorman.

Clark, Thanks you. Much of our marketing is centered around Open Houses

Neal, I wish they would work better for you. I'm coming to the conclusion that they don't work in Florida. It might be that it is easy to get private showings in Florida with lock boxes and most buyers have agents. A buyer or a buyers agent in NYC has to make an appointment with the listing agent here. The listing agent is always present at showings. It is difficult always coordinating schedules of, buyer seller and both agents to get a showing so Sunday Open Houses is a time when buyers, buyers agents can bring or register their buyers. It probably works here because it is the easiest way for everyone involved.

Pam, Thanks for stopping by.  It seems to be local if they work or not. I'm always looking for new marketing idea.

Dec 20, 2007 02:03 AM #70
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

In conclusion: In some markets Open Houses might not be effective but in many markets they can be a great tool. 

I have looked at the NAR study and have re read the anti-open house posts and comments again. Numbers and statistics can be interpreted in many ways. Some see the glass half full, some see the glass half empty.

One point about the survey is only 1% were first introduced to the property via an Open house. That might be correct. How they are 1st introduced to a property is another topic.

Buyers come to my open houses that are 1st introduced to the property from my marketing - websites, virtual tour, their agent, newspaper ad bla bla bla etc etc etc. 

We are talking semantics. They come to my open houses as already serious buyers. I am not looking for street traffic. I don't post signs on telephone poles. An Open House is a tool to have multiple viewings in 2 hours for interested buyers.

The same NAR survey says 47% utilize Open Houses in their search. Where they 1st learned about the home purchase might not be at the Open House - they came to the Open House through other marketing. The OH is a tool to view property in person. They already have been introduced through other marketing they are interested and serious when they come.

Another conclusion regarding OH is semantics: The anti Open House contingent uses words like "sitting" "holding" "converting"

I use words like "hosting" "conducting" "presenting" Passive vs Pro-active

Rather than focusing on those that don't buy focus on those that do buy.

As Mike Ferry says "If you're selling windows and it's raining out - You might have to call 100 people to find the one with the broken window. Who cares about the 99 people who don't need a new window.

Since 80% (or whatever number) use the internet to search I wonder how many buy off the internet without ever seeing the property in person.

 I have only made one sale directly from my website without ever showing the buyer the physical property. It was new construction and the building wasn't there yet to view. One other time I received a faxed offer from an out of town buyer (Florida actually) who saw my listing on the internet and had no plan to come to town and view it. Unfortunately it was a low ball and we had better offers.

Have agents been selling homes directly off the internet without the buyer ever seeing the property in person? Many posts and surveys imply they buy with a click of a mouse.

Dec 20, 2007 02:36 AM #71
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA

A NAR study of open houses would not influence any decision I would make about holding an open house in my market.  One attempted burglary would not influence any decision either.  What would influence my decision is the way open houses were being received in my market. 

Until a couple of years ago open houses were totally the way to go here, providing buyers for the agents holding them as well as an occasional buyer for the actual property.  In more recent times they have not produced buyers or sellers, more often than not nobody even shows up regardless of the amount of advertising that was done, the placement of signs, or anything else that is done to promote the traffic.  


I still hold open houses - sometimes.  Regardless of the changes in my local market, some properties still get traffic.  If a property is near the beach there is still traffic to these open houses.  If there is a large community event scheduled and open house signs are strategically placed traffic can be driven in.   While I would never say never, I believe that a Realtor should have their finger on the pulse of the market and make a judgment call on a property by property basis using their knowledge of the local market.   Yes real estate is VERY local, it even changes from neighborhood to neighborhood within the same city.  

If a property has an INCREDIBLE price and is advertised on Craigslist, traffic can be driven to an open house.

What I am saying here is that we have to be professionals and absolutely must know our markets intimately. 

Nobody here at AR should dictate to anybody, our markets are all very different, and you should definitely put the stoopid back in.   

Oh and by the way - GREAT POST! 

Dec 20, 2007 05:14 AM #72
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA
P.S.  If open houses here were what you described there, I would be holding them weekly at all of my listings, agents would be falling over themselves to do open houses and would be begging for them the way they did here until a couple of years ago.  It is almost impossible to even get an agent to cover a 'good' open house here these days and one of me can only go so far.  The problems with getting open houses open are relative.  It is difficult to get agents to cover them.  
Dec 20, 2007 05:25 AM #73
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

OPEN HOUSES still work in the DC Metro Area too!  Thanks for the post - loved your pointers too.

Dec 20, 2007 05:29 AM #74
Ray Nellum
Envision Real Estate Group, LLC. - Fort Smith, AR
Fort Smith Real Estate


I am a huge supporter of Open Houses!  In our industry there are several differences in opinions, but they work for me and apparently work for you as well.  Great Post and have a very Merry Christmas!

Dec 20, 2007 05:38 AM #75
"Tommy" Decebal
HomeSpector Inc. 516-851-5833 - Farmingdale, NY
Adamescu Long Island NY MASTER Home Inspector

Very true. Local, local, local.


Dec 20, 2007 05:39 AM #76
Drew Peterson
Keller Williams Advantage II Realty - Orlando, FL

Effective marketing is going to be defined by the city, county, neighborhood, etc. you are in.  The poster who originally said that you should kick an agent out for saying they would hold an open house in Orlando is right, albeit a little harsh in his words.  They're just not that effective here.

Dec 20, 2007 05:43 AM #77
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hey Laurie,,

I agree. It's all about our market, market conditions and the particular property. Our markets change too sometimes weekly, monthly yearly and neighborhood to neighborhood.

Last year I did not have big turns outs at open houses and the calls were fewer and far between. This year our market really picked up and 20 -25 people would show up. My strategy changes accordingly. Last year I did less of them (every other week instead of every week) There were a few times I had only 1 buyer, I think I even had one OH last year that no one showed up at all. All it takes is 1.

Back in 2005 (the golden year) 100 people showing up was not unusual. It was a frenzy. Limited inventory tons of buyers. Every dump was selling.

That really is the bottom line. When the buyers dry up and there are few of them it is hard getting them through the door. Period.

My market can change, it can change on a dime. It has slowed some. January is usually our busiest month because of bonuses. We really don't know how it will be next year. On the one hand we hear pretty good bonuses, but then there are supposed be lay offs also. Many of the top brokers in NY are only listers, they don't work with buyers. Thanks to my blog and website I have many buyers so I'm ready for any market.

Merry Christmas and my best wishes for a GREAT 2008! 

Dec 20, 2007 06:32 AM #78
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Debbie, Glad your back. I think Neal had a week in review post of profiles the other day. You were featured but all your blogs were gone it said 0 blogs and 0 points. Must have been a glitch. I love your famous peoples houses. DC must be similar to NY. All those workaholics only have time on Sunday.

Ray, Merry Christmas I'm glad they work for you too.

Tommy, local, local, local - Location Location Location. Thanks for stopping by.

Drew, Thanks. OK -No open houses in Orlando.

Dec 20, 2007 06:49 AM #79
"Tommy" Decebal
HomeSpector Inc. 516-851-5833 - Farmingdale, NY
Adamescu Long Island NY MASTER Home Inspector

Wish you a Merry Christmas and best wishes for a great year in 2008.

Tommy   New York Certified Home Inspector Long Island NY 

Dec 20, 2007 08:52 AM #80
Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Mitchell ~ You are so right about real estate being local.

At the NAR convention I had the pleasure to speak to several agents from Australia. They were appalled at the thought we did open houses for an entire afternoon!  LOL!  In Oz they schedule and open house for 15-20 minutes!  It works for them!

In Urban Denver we have hugely successful open houses in popular neighborhoods.  In parts of the 'burbs it is hit or miss.  You could find yourself being busy or bored out of your mind.

Agents who are so brazen to assume all real estate is like where they come from are making a big mistake.  It's time to expand the mind and consider the possibilities. 

 Get out of judgment and into curiosity.


P.S. See you soon in Manhattan! 

Dec 20, 2007 01:42 PM #81
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Kristal,

You gotta love those Aussies. 15-20 minutes just enough time to throw some shrimps on the barbie.

Most Open House in NYC are for an hour and a half. I like to give my sellers 2 hours but sometimes I  only have the Open House for an hour if I have more than one or I want to take new buyers around to other Open houses.

Can't wait to see you in Manhattan!

Dec 20, 2007 04:31 PM #82
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

I didn't have enough time to read all the comments... sorry if this has been mentioned before:

I've heard the claim that the only reason why some agents hold open houses is to pick up additional buyers & sellers as opposed to trying to get the particular house sold.  Those who believe this are often the same ones that ask if the seller is aware of this "side benefit" to the listing agent.  WELL... I have news for anyone who believe that they are innocent of getting "side benefits" simply because they don't hold open houses.  My question to them is "Do you advertise your seller's home and, if so, do you not pick up additional buyers & sellers from advertising their home?"... "Have you informed your sellers of this side benefit?"... "Did you offer to pay the seller for the privilege of marketing their home so you could market your own business and get additional buyers & sellers from that marketing?"  The truth is that agents get "side benefits" from most, if not all, marketing/advertising they do... from the sign in the front yard with their name & phone number on it, to newspaper/magazine ads, to Internet marketing (including blogged listings), etc., ... all thanks to each listing they get!  Have you thanked your sellers lately?

Open houses are just ANOTHER form of marketing.  If you don't like to hold them, don't.  Simple as that.

Dec 21, 2007 12:43 AM #83
Mitchell J Hall
Compass - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
Leanne, Great point. Everything in real estate has "side benefits" I don't think anything we do is a waste of time. Either it is a learning experience or "side benefits" can occur from some of our activities that we didn't even think of. Merry Christmas!
Dec 22, 2007 12:34 AM #84
Kaye Thomas
Real Estate West - Manhattan Beach, CA
e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA

Mitchell.. Great post.. Open Houses do work... they just may not work the way agents hope... An open house gives access to all buyers.. including those of other agents... an open house gives you a chance to meet and talk to potential buyers and find out what they are thinking.. An open house  is a place to meet future clients..An open house only needs one person to be successful..

Wishing you a Happy Holiday

Dec 22, 2007 01:20 PM #85
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

I am soooo with you.  I have seen several 'Anti-Open House' blogs and comments.  Open Houses DO sell homes in SOME markets  neighborhoods.  Even in DC - in Dupont Circle - we can have 30 or 40 folks come to a 2 hour Open House and get an offer (or two) - YES in THIS market.   20 Minutes away in Northern Virgina - you can sit in an Open House and nap all day.  It JUST DEPENDS on the Neighborhood. 

The last two homes I bought before I was an agent - I bought from seeing them at Open Houses.  (and I DID have an agent working with me BOTH times). 

Making Blanket Statements is plain Stupid and Realtors should know better.  (Just my opinion).


Dec 23, 2007 01:47 AM #86
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