Well, let me start off by saying that I'd rather be out meeting people than couped up in an office all day typing at a computer (wait, I'm couped up typing right now : 0 ) But, what I mean is, when given the chance, I'd rather be out talking to people in person about real estate.
The Primary Purpose of an Open House is to showcase the listing, to allow prospective buyers to see the home "in person," in short - to sell the home.
However, there are some ancillary results from holding a home open, including the opportunity to meet local buyers, neighbors, and to provide a setting for discussion on the market. These conversations have been as short as a handshake and "hello" to over one hour of talking about the market, inventory, schools, restaurants, and other real estate related topics.
Granted, open houses can be VERY boring - if no one shows up, or if only a few parties show up. But they are an excellent way of interacting with people and there is always that chance that someone knows someone who is looking for a home JUST LIKE THIS.
Proper Open House etiquette
- Greet visitors as they arrive.
I try to do this every time. Usually at the front door, but there are times when I'm showing around the home and I'll have to say hello in the kitchen, living room, backyard. It's important for people to feel that they are welcome and whether it is ok to take off shoes or leave them on. I always give the opportunity right from the initial contact for people to ask questions about the property, size, square footage, bedrooms, price. But most people just want a flyer right away and then to be left alone to "do their thing."
- Give visitors their space.
People don't want a Realtor following 2 feet behind them while they walk around a house. If the home is empty and vacant, I tell people to go wherever they want to go and that I'm here for them if they have any questions. If the home is occupied and there are valuables and personal items (e.g. upstairs in the master bedroom) and I don't feel right about someone who walks in, I will follow them upstairs...but at a distance, maybe standing in the hallway where I can see them in the bedrooms to make sure that nothing leaves with them. No one likes to be hounded. No one likes to be aggressively sold. It's best to let people come to you in their own way and in their own time.
- Know the house and know the inventory.
It is extremely important to know all the pertinent facts about the house beyond the obvious specs of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and price. People will ask when the home was built, who the builder was, what schools are nearby, how safe is the neighborhood, is there an HOA, is there Mello Roos, do I know if any problems or defects with the house, age of the roof, age of the air conditioning unit, etc. It is vital to study the product and to anticipate visitors' questions. Knowing the inventory is key in order to justify the asking price to potential bidders. It's a good idea to always bring a sheet of the other homes in the area that are for sale so the price per square feet can be compared.