Do Open Houses Work in a Second Home Market Like Ours?
It's a valid question. How beneficial is it to hold an open house in a vacation home community, particularly one that is seasonal? In our corner of the world (on Madeline Island and in Bayfield, Wisconsin), we occasionally see agents holding open houses, almost always during summer months.
In summer, visitors to our Island come and go. They arrive on a Friday afternoon or early evening, check in at their rental, get dinner (maybe at The Pub Restaurant or at Seiche, at the Beach Club or Grandpa Tony's) and then they turn in for the evening. The next day, they're out on a boat or playing tennis or golf, maybe kayaking, hiking or at the beach. By Sunday, they're headed to board the ferry boat back to Bayfield and the mainland. If the weather on Sunday is nice, they dawdle a bit and leave later in the day. If the weather is disappointing, they're gone shortly past Noon.
The summer visitor to our Island has to make time to look at homes. They need to schedule showings with an agent, because you just can't walk into a place that might be rented to another Madeline Island visitor or group. Some tourist visitors actually forget that we need to contact the owner to schedule a showing.
Smart real estate shoppers schedule a visit to talk with us in advance, and they give us plenty of time to schedule a showing. I've often said that we're not a fast food restaurant. Shopping for a second home is a major financial decision, one that deserves your attention and your time.
So how serious is the person who stops by an open house on a Saturday afternoon in our small island community? We see far more open house traffic when the weather isn't great, maybe rainy or cool that day.
Over the years, I've learned that crummy weather can be our friend when it comes to scheduling an open house on Madeline Island. The cooler and ranier it is, the more likely it is that we'll draw someone who is looking for something to do until the weather improves. But then again, is that person a likely buyer, or just someone who's looking to pass the time at your open house?