Are Open Houses Worth the Trouble? (a/k/a "Throwing a Party to Which Nobody Comes")

By
Home Stager with A1A Home Staging LLC

I am a homestager in N.E. Florida.  I attended an open house this past weekend (Memorial Day weekend) in a gated resort community that also offers vacation rentals.  I asked the realtor how the open house was going because my experience and word on the street was that open houses just aren't getting any visitors these days.  His response was that this particular open house was getting a fair share of traffic but only because the home happened to be right next to the pools and clubhouse and the vacationers had plenty of time to stop in.  His comment was that open houses do not work and that 80% of sales now happen through internet shopping.

Is this is a valid statistic?  Do 80% of buyers simply sit at home searching realtor.com to find the house(s) they are interested in? 

I have staged and held open houses to which no one came.  The house looked absolutely stunning and I was anxious for someone, anyone, to just walk through.  I would have been happy with nosy neighbors or curious realtors, but no one stopped.  Do people just not do that anymore?

I have also staged houses that have not had any lookers since the staging took place.  The sellers' emotions went from positive excitement over the transformation of their home to disappointment and rejection because no one called or came by or looked at it.  Are there just too many properties out there for people to deal with?  Is it too overwhelming with so many choices, and therefore no one bothers?  Is the gloom and doom news preventing even those with money from shopping around?

How do I, as a home stager, help the home get shown after the staging takes place and gorgeous photos are provided to the listing agent and/or seller?  How do I even get a seller to take on the small but necessary expense of staging when no one is even looking at the houses on the market?

I am probably more ranting and blogging than expecting actual answers, but any comments, suggestions, etc. will be greatly appreciated.

If you are curious, here are links to the MLS and a photo slide show of a home for which we have had several open houses but no lookers. 

For slideshow (click on slideshow once page has opened):

 

 http://picasaweb.google.com/A1AHomeStaging/FloridaBeachHouseForSale

 

Realtor.com listing is:

 

  http://www.realtor.com/realestate/palm+coast-fl-32137-1098383705/

Comments (4)

Rick Belben
Belben Realty Group - Orlando, FL
Orlando Real Estate - Belben Realty Group

I have always found open house to be unpredictable. I have never sold a home through an open but have picked up buyers. I just do not do them anymore.

On another note if home has not been shown - good chance it could be the price. It will not matter if the home is staged beautifully if it is over priced it will not get the traffic it needs

May 28, 2008 01:54 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Open houses can work!  Here in Omaha, NE I bought my current home only because I was browsing the neighborhood and fell in love with it.  I also sold my existing home to a couple that first saw it at an open house.  They are not necessarily the magic ticket, but I think they can help.

Jun 02, 2008 02:08 PM
Kathleen West
Trademark Realty Group of Palm Coast - Palm Coast, FL
Flagler County & Palm Coast Realtor

The foundation is to get the message out to a wide audience and give people a reason to come out to see the property (including other Realtors).  Just a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Yes, the trend has been that bewteen 85%-90% of buyers admit they "use the internet first" (the surveys have never said it's the ONLY resource buyers use).  So is the property being advertised effectively to the other 15%-10% of buyers also?  Is the property being advertised effectively to other Realtors?
  2. Real Estate internet shoppers consistently say they want a lot of pictures.  So, yes, pictures are very important.  But this will obviously not make up the mind of the potential buyer to buy or not buy.  The internet is like curb appeal.  Just as curb appeal entices the visitor to want to see more (i.e. the inside), effective internet presentation entices the buyer to want to know more and/or visit the property.  Same rules apply too . . . good curb appeal with bad presentation inside doesn't benefit anything. 
  3. Realtor.com is the most popular Residential Real Estate search, but it's not the only one.  Plus the posting coming straight from an MLS is very generic looking regardless of great photos.  Realtor.com offers services for "spicing up" ads and adding more photos. Back to the original point, does the Realtor really know all of the places their properties are being advertised on the internet?  Ours show up on quite a few, and we are able to tell (and show) each customer where.  In addition, are properties being advertised on the right internet sites?  And is there a consistent direction of people to those sites? 

Great post and questions, Anita.

Just some thoughts.

Jun 09, 2008 11:31 PM
Anita Hoppenstand
A1A Home Staging LLC - Palm Coast, FL
A1A Home Staging LLC

Rick and Tori - please, please, please accept my apologies.  I am new to Active Rain and just learned via the now infamous post from Karen, "RECIPROSITY" that I should have responded and thanked you two for your comments to my post.  I truly appreciated your comments at the time and hope to hear from you again in the future. 

Kathy - thank you for the information, it makes a lot of sense.  I hope to meet you soon in person - perhaps over lunch?

Jun 10, 2008 05:48 AM