It looks as if the debate about the effectiveness of town open houses as selling tools isn’t going to be settled any time soon. Part of the reason is the difficulty of getting accurate feedback about prospective buyers’ actual behavior as opposed to their intentions. Pollsters do their best, but you have to question the answers they come up with.
A good example was a couple of surveys that tried to pin down how future buyers intended to find their next home. The major online web giant Trulia found that more than 90% of folks who were in the market said they planned to attend open houses as part of their home search! And 62% of U.S. home buyers “reported using/planning to use online sites to find open houses.” If true, that should definitely end the debate. If nearly two out of three buyers are heading to the web to find open houses, when you add in the number who would undoubtedly see street signs or other notices, what area home seller would choose to ignore what amounts to the majority of potential buyers?
The problem is that a similar study done for the National Association of Realtors® came up with very different results. The NAR found that 44% of buyers used open houses as an ‘information source’—less than half the number Trulia reported. Which survey is more accurate? There’s no telling. But there’s not much question that open houses can benefit prospective buyers. Although the local internet listings provide an efficient way to survey and compare descriptions of what’s currently out there, being able to casually pop in and out of several open houses on a Sunday afternoon is a convenient way to get a more in-depth feel for what’s available in various neighborhoods.
The downside for sellers is the usual: the inconvenience involved in getting the property in top condition, making sure that pilferable objects are securely out of reach, and having to vacate the premises for the duration. On the other hand, opening the property to prospects who might not yet be as committed to buying as those who seek showings through their real estate agents is a way to widen the field of possible buyers—especially true for some area properties which don’t photograph as well as they show in the flesh.
And it’s definitely a marketing plus—a foolproof way to bring wide attention to the fact that yes, the house is seriously up for sale! When the subject comes up, neighbors and passers-by are more apt to make a mental note of the house over on the next street that I remember is for sale. More than one home has been sold because a friend of a neighbor has an aunt who’s been looking for a place…
An open house can be one useful marketing tactic—but like all others, whether or not to use it is the client’s choice. If you are contemplating marketing your own local home, or are soon to be in the market to buy, don’t hesitate to give me a call!