I remember the first open house I hosted as a real estate agent. I knew nothing about the home – it was listed by another agent in the office. It was a lakefront home that was too expensive for most of the visitors that came that day. They came to dream, while their kids ran around the yard, getting in the seller’s things and I ran around trying to keep track of where everyone was. Of course I didn’t sell the house.
That was okay, my office manager explained. I did what I needed to do. I had a list of several prospective buyers who had signed in at the open house – and included their phone numbers. I even knew what some of them were looking for, so I could possibly sell them something.
You see, an open house is a prospecting tool for the agent, not a way to sell your home. In fact, many experienced agents won’t even host their own open houses. They get a newer agent to host it. I did this many times as a new agent.
Consider this for a moment. The listing agent could be there if he wanted to be, and keep more of the commission if the home sold. He gives up half of his commission if the hosting agent sells the home. Would he risk that if homes were commonly sold from open houses?
Why let dozens of people who aren’t qualified to buy your home track their muddy feet through it then? Whatever the agent tells you (and yes, you might sell the home from an open house), he suggests it for two primary reasons:
1. To prove he is doing everything he can to sell your home – whether or not it is effective.
2. It is a prospecting tool for himself, or for the hosting agent and the broker.
Two dozen couples that want a new home coming and signing in with their phone numbers – now that’s an opportunity (just not for you). The whole point is to collect a list of buyers to work with. Most of these buyers are looking for homes that are nothing like yours. It isn’t really expected that the agent will sell your house in the process. Of the many open houses I hosted when I started selling real estate, I didn’t sell one of them that way.
Not that it can’t happen. Any additional exposure of your home can increase the odds of it selling. Just consider that this is a more effective prospecting tool for the agent than it is a tool for selling your home. It may or may not be worth the trouble for you.
If you do have a open house, hide the valuables – no matter what they say, an agent can’t watch the visitors all the time. Put easily-broken things somewhere safe – parents may bring kids. Make a list of answers to the most likely questions about the house – and give it to the hosting agent. Personally, I think it is also fair to leave a hidden camera running to see what really happens at an open house.
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