When you put your house on the market you should have an open house every Sunday, right? Well, not necessarily. Many agents think open houses are ineffective.
I consider the open house to be a good tool but not an essential one. It’s one more way to give the house exposure — but I always ask my clients if it will be inconvenient for them or if it will feel like an invasion of privacy.
Your neighbors are curious to see the house — make no mistake, they will be among the first visitors. “I’m just a nosy neighbor” is how they introduce themselves to me. But that’s not to say that they are a waste of time. They may have a friend who has always wanted to live in their neighborhood — and who wouldn’t jump at the chance to pick their neighbors if they could?
A few years ago, I sat in a meeting at which an agent gave a presentation on why not to hold open houses. He did not believe they added any value to his marketing plan and he had a very convincing spiel that was effective in giving him Sundays off.
If a listing agent wants to take Sundays off, that shouldn’t be a problem. I usually have multiple open houses on Sundays and can be in only one place at a time, but other Realtors in my office are happy to have an open house. For agents, an open house is a nice place to meet someone who wants to buy a house.
But, as I review my listings this year, so many of the buyers of those homes came from open houses. Not to say that they wouldn't have seen the house anyway, but the open house made it easy for them (and easy for their agents).
I drove to San Mateo on Friday with this on my mind. I belong to a group of Realtors from different parts of the Bay Area; seven of us from Sonoma to San Mateo meet quarterly to share ideas. I asked the group how open houses work in their markets and here is the feedback I received:
Judy LeMarr (www.marindreamhome.com) of Frank Howard Allen Realtors in Marin: “Open houses work particularly well in a location like Seadrift in Stinson, where people buy on a whim. Also, I think it makes it easier for buyers who just want to get the lay of the land first. A lot of people just like to know what is going on in the market, especially neighbors.”
Troy Staten of Gallagher & Lindsey Realtors in Alameda said open houses there are very well attended. "I have met buyers and sellers at open houses and have sold the houses to the buyers I met at the open houses." He finds them useful across all price ranges with the only exception being the condo market, where it is harder to get good traffic.
Jackie Care (www.Jackiecare.com) of Pacific Union in Oakland: “In Berkeley,Oakland and Piedmont, open houses are useful, except for the higher end, where visibility within the brokerage community can be equally effective." However, there is an interesting difference in Jackie's market. She said, "If you keep doing open houses, after about three Sundays they become old news and it reaches a point of diminishing returns unless there is a price reduction."
Jackie NeJaime (www.JackieSFHomes.com) of Hill & Co. in San Francisco told me she believes in open houses across all price points. Of her most recent listings, she said, "I’d say nine out of 10 saw it for the first time at an open house and the most recent two I just sold, both buyers were from the open house."
Judy Litteer (www.judylitteer.com) of Better Homes and Gardens in San Mateo, said, "I am in great favor of open houses. The serious buyers are out, rain or shine, and look at homes that their agent may not think to show them or that may not come up on their email alerts. The shoppers can turn into a serious buyer if they find a home that gives an emotional jolt."
Also part of this group is Dave Fahrner of Sebastopol. The consensus was that open houses are an important part of our marketing plan — and that today's buyers often see their new home first at an open house, with or without the help of their Realtor.
If you're interested in exploring the market, here are four open houses I'm holding Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Alamo: 340 Livorna Heights — See the virtual tour.
Alamo: 318 Alamo Square — See the virtual tour.
Danville: 1029 El Capitan Drive — See the virtual tour.
Lafayette: 3275 Vals Lane — See the virtual tour.