Home Sellers, Who Is Showing Up At Your Open Houses ?

Real Estate Agent with EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales

For many years prior to the smart phone, the prevalence of the internet and technology, open house were a marketing staple.  But I present to you, that while there is a time and place for open houses, there are far better areas of marketing your home to effectively get a buyer.  Should you have an open house to sell your home?  I don't think it is necessary.

Buyers are previewing homes with quality real estate photographs, floorplans and other enhanced marketing materials and making major decisions online.  30 years ago the information that is available at a few clicks of the keypad were not readily available like they are now.

The two times I recommend open houses is when a home is brand new to the market and when there has been a major change like a price change or a serious improvement to make the house more appealing.  And, of course a major marketing strategy in this crazy sellers market is to only show at the open house to begin with to build up demand. 

While this is a great strategy now as the market turns it could be a strategy that backfires.

The Purpose of The Open House

Let's define the purpose of an open house.  An open house should be used to expose your house to a potential buyer that can close in the next 60 days.  Period.  But who is really showing up at your open house?

So why do some agents push open houses?

There are two reasons.

The first being a open house gets activity for the sellers and is quantifiable.

Second, open house have been a staple of marketing and agent in a community forever.  Look what the National Association of REALTORS has to say about open houses and using them to gain market exposure for the agent.  No where in this article do they talk about the benefit of the open house to the seller. 

Google "should you have an open house to sell my home" and you will find a split among major news agencies with many saying the open houses benefits the agent more than the seller. 

Open Houses Create False Hope for Sellers

Open house create a false hope for sellers.  Again open houses are great the first weekend your home is on the market especially in a red hot sellers market.  But as your home sits on the market they are far less effective.

So where is the false hope that is created?

You've scheduled your open house or houses for the weekend.  You spend half the night cleaning up making sure everything is perfect.  You get the kids and the dog packed in the car and you go find something to do for several hours.  It's work for many home sellers.

Later that day your agent calls and says their were 8 groups through the house.  You think great..... thats better than the one or two showings you received all week.  But is it?

Probably not. 

The reason being is the only qualifier for open house attendees is they get to the open house and walk through the door.  How many of those attendees are actually prepared to close on your home, or any home for that matter.  Less than you think.

Who Is Showing Up At Your Open House?

Following is an infographic on who is showing up at your open house.  While there are many reasons someone may show up to your open house, here are common reasons I hear over and over.

Also I note theives... while no one comes through the door of an open house and announces they are here to commit a crime, it happens.  One situation that has arisen since I have been in the business are people posing as home buyers seeking prescription meds, never mind the theft of small expensive electonics and jewelry.

It is certainly great you have activity at your open house but remember we want attendees that can close on your home in the next 60-90 days.



Yep, here this all the time.  So you cleaned like your life depended on it,  packed up kids that didn't want to leave the house, so a bunch of people could use your house to kill some time on a Sunday afternoon.

Personal Showing vs Open House

So maybe an actual buyer or two showed up to your open house.  But a serious buyer would have scheduled a personal showing if there was no open house.  As a matter of fact very few of my buyers go to open houses.  They want to view homes they are interested in with me as their buyer's agent. 

Rather than an open house a personal showing allows me and my home buyers to disucss the merits and drawbacks of a home as it suits their needs.  The personal shoing allows us to speak candidly and  take are time undhindered by a slew of people.

What Do Other Agents Have to Say About Open Houses?

Anita Clark  "Inviting unfamiliar faces into a private, secluded space could present a whole new dangerous situation you are not readily equipped to handle. Unfortunately, open house crimes are not new to the real estate industry."

Bill Gassett "Open houses are a waste of time for a seller and entirely unnecessary to sell a home in the digital age."

Paul Sian  "Selling a home is a process and the benefits and risks of open houses need to be discussed if that is a marketing activity that the seller wants to have in their home."

Kyle Hiscock "Are open houses necessary to sell a home?  The answer is absolutely not!  The percentage of homes that actually sell as a result of an open house is less than 2-3%.

Lynn Pineda "There used to be a time when open houses were more effective, when home Buyers were not searching for homes on the internet"

So Should I Have An Open House?

That is a very personal discussion to have with your agent.  

There are risks and rewards for everything, including open houses.  Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?  For me and my experiences with open houses, except for some very specific times over the life of the listing, open houses are generally not worth the effort many home sellers have to put into them.

Given that less than 3% of home are actually sold at an open house and the fact that many of the attendees aren't even qualified to be there, doing open houses weekend after weekend is just a waste of your time and your agents time.  Look towards other means of marketing rather than focusing on open houses.

A serious qualified buyer that is in the market will schedule a showing if there are no open houses scheduled.  Plus if a buyer sees your having a ton of open houses they just may wait until the next one, but in the meantime they could find a house they like and forget about yours.

If having open houses is inconvenient to your family, skipping open houses will not effect your sale. 


Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Gita Bantwal 09/19/2018 09:35 AM
  2. Fred Griffin presently on Leave of Absence 09/22/2018 01:49 PM
  3. Gabe Sanders 09/30/2018 11:00 PM
  4. Kasey & John Boles 10/01/2018 08:13 PM
Home Selling
Massachusetts Middlesex County Tewksbury
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Jerry Murphy, CRS, SRES
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

Boy, I have mixed feelings about this post.  On the one hand I understand your stance about the effectiveness of Open Houses. I get it.  I really do.  On the other hand the attitude and tone of this post only enforce the public image of Realtors, that we are lazy, money grubbing A-holes that just want to make the sale and get the commission check.  This attitude has paved the way for entities like Open Door, Offer Pad, Redfin, and Zillow.  A lot of sellers are now questioning why they need an agent at all when they can post their home for sale on Zillow and other sites.  I believe in giving full service to my clients.  And if it means that I spend a little of my time on a venture that only has a 2-3% success rate I'm going to do it if my client wants me to do it.  Leave no stone unturned is my philosphy.  I think we hurt ourselves as agents when we continually cut out items from our menu of services to our customers.  It's bad enough that half the agents don't show up to inspections or closings, now we're going to cut our Open Houses as well? Not a good image to portray.

Sep 14, 2018 01:15 PM #40
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Hi Kevin, In 20 years, I have only had the buyer come through an open house and buy the house once. And they had an agent, and came back through later in the week. I have picked up clients for other houses, though, so yes, the benefit was to me. With the rising incidents of theft, injuries, and other crimes happening during open houses across the US (and we have a number of recently reported incidents in our area,) I am having trouble imagining how an open house is good for anyone. Honestly, how safe is it to advertise that you are going to be sitting by yourself in an empty house for 2 hours?

Sep 15, 2018 05:49 AM #41
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Marney Kirk precisely my point.  Risk/ reward is out of balance.  And lets face it that buyer probably would have scheduled a showing with their agent anyways.  In my area recently there has been news of drug seeking attendees, a group casing houses for later break ins and some high dollar thefts. 

And on top of it most of my sellers are relieved they don't have to do open houses weekend after weekend. 

I want buyers going in with buyer's agent and much prefer a personal showing on my properties.  I know a buyer's agent who has been working with a client can better present a house to their client that best suits their needs and wants.


Sep 15, 2018 08:31 AM #42
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Kevin Vitali I inform my sellers upfront that Open Houses do not sell houses . Agents sell houses to buyers that are qualified for mortgages . Why would you invite strangers who are not qualified to walk through houses . I will tell you why . It is for RE agents to pick up buyers. Not to sell that house that the Open House is being held . They're has been warnings that thieves have been casing open house .. Have you guessed I am not a fan of open houses??  Great Post

Sep 15, 2018 03:47 PM #43
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

I hosted a progressive open house with three other agents (5 houses total). Mine was the only one that sold that weekend. I got it done WITH an open houses. The house was vacant so it was no inconvenience to the seller. This was a rarity for me, since most of my open houses fail. But, I did sell this one because of the open house and the neighbors were impressed with my work and it helped me get other listings in the neighborhood. So, was it worth it? YES 

Sep 16, 2018 06:01 AM #44
Diana Nardy

Completely disagree. I sold my last 2 listings $730,000 and $605,000 from open houses and frequently pick up new buyers. Not as much as in previous years, it has changed... but Open Houses still worth my time. You have to prep your seller properly on expectations. Thanks

Sep 16, 2018 12:34 PM #45
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

I still maintain those buyers wouldhave scheduled showings Diana.



Sep 17, 2018 06:01 AM #46
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Very informative and I esp like the breakdown of the open house visitors--I've encountered every one!  I do feel open houses can be helpful and good exposure for the listing..however the most motivated buyers will make an appt with their agent to see the home

Sep 17, 2018 09:06 AM #47
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Thanks Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR I certainly did make these people up, I get them at every open house!

Sep 17, 2018 01:09 PM #48
Sam Stoffer

This is a great article. I think it's important to change the common belief that holding open houses is beneficial to the client. In my market, it seems like clients expect their agents to hold open houses, and if they don't, they assume the agent is being 'lazy' when it comes to selling the home.


Sep 19, 2018 06:19 PM #49
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Thanks, Kevin.  You make excellent points that sellers should be made aware of if their Realtor or they are planning an open house.

Sep 20, 2018 04:51 AM #50
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Nosey neighbors sometimes are a great help in choosing their next neighbor and sending friends to see the house.

Sep 20, 2018 05:32 AM #51
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Sally K. & David L. Hanson possibly and I certainly market a home to neighbors just for that reason... but for me I rather get the buyer in front of me.

Sep 20, 2018 11:08 AM #52
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Well, last year I sold two houses from my open houses. So, i'd say, the success of open houses depends on the agent and location. 

Sep 20, 2018 11:40 PM #53
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Sp;ot on!  In my 16 years in business, I've sold one home to a potential buyer.  They walked into the open house and brought their agent the next day.  But I bet their agent would have found this listing anyway!  On the other hand, open houses help me find buyer clients. I just sold a listing because a seller client was not happy with his limited service listing.  The first thing I noticed, bad photos.  The home wasn't being shown in it's best "light!"

Sep 22, 2018 12:41 PM #54
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Than Jan Green .  Not the most effective marketing tool to sell a home for sure.  Yes a great way to market an agents or companies brand.  But from the point of representation that is not what the open house is about.

Sep 27, 2018 05:55 AM #55
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Every area is different. Selling real estate is local. Open houses need to be marketed properly and I have sold the actual house to a buyer who walked in during an open house. I know what houses I can market using this tool and won't take it out of my tool box. 

If marketed properly, it helps to raise the SEO for the listing. It can generate buzz and get eyes on the property.... in my Sedona Arizona market. 

Oct 01, 2018 05:16 AM #56
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Kevin,

Very funny post. I find that nice weather helps. Not too hot, not too cold, but sunny & just right. 

Oct 01, 2018 09:02 PM #57
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Be nice if we could order up a sunny, pleasant day for every open house.

Oct 03, 2018 08:15 AM #58
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think you can get a lot of good out of thinking this way! Love and light and all the best!

Oct 05, 2018 11:26 PM #59
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