While on vacation last week, someone asked me this. So I decided to share :-)
A broker's open, quite simply, is an open house for real estate agents. Agents are usually busy hosting open houses on Sundays, and can't get to the other public open houses. Around the greater Syracuse area, the day and time of your neighborhood's broker's opens are generally determined by the board of Realtors. That is to say, they've established a general schedule for agents to follow. For example, on the west side, we have them on Tuesdays. We start in the city, covering the west and south sides earliest, and work our way outward. A Tipp Hill listing might be open 10 - 12, and a Skaneateles listing might be 12 - 2. By following the schedule, it allows agents to see the most number of houses on the least amount of time.
There are several reasons why we have broker's opens - and I have to admit that I've heard that they are not very successful in other areas. From a seller's perspective, the number one reason to agree to hold a broker's open is to let agents preview your home. This will save you time (and cleaning!) if the agent determines your house doesn't meet his buyer's needs. On the flip side, an agent might decide that your home is perfect for his buyer when he wasn't even originally considering it! One of my favorite "tricks" is to offer some type of snack or light meal to agents. If they stay to eat (which most of them do because it's the only way we get lunch that day), then they stay in the house a little longer than just "cruising through". The longer they are in the house, the more they remember it. The more they remember it, the more likely they are to talk about it. The more they talk about it, the more it piques the curiousity of other agents... it is a subtle, yet effective method of network marketing.
Now to throw a curve ball, I have to wonder how much longer broker's opens will remain popular as the price of gas keeps increasing. Syracuse's northern suburbs have been predominately "caravan style", where several agents pile into a few cars, and each listing is only open for a few minutes. It's not uncommon for a few agents within a single office to ride along together for east and west side opens, but the listing is still open for a couple of hours. Personally, I wish I could bike to broker's opens. Sometimes the distance is just too far, but what really stops me is the idea of showing up in biker shorts and shirt with helmet hair. I'm all for business-casual dress, but that seems a little bit toooooo casual. Although, if gas hits $5 a gallon this summer, I'm going to rethink that. In my opinion, the benefits of a broker's open outweighs my vanity.