The house across the street from me recently sold. There had been open houses almost every week that it was listed. It had tons of people come see it.
Sounds great, right?
Doing a little research, there had been 82 sales of houses priced $50k less and $50k more than this house’s list price. That is 82 sales all year. In ALL of Lexington. And there had probably been about half that many people come to the open houses. I know because I was home every Sunday between 2 and 4, usually washing my cars. Could it be that there were half as many buyers out there looking as we have had sales all year? Doubtful. I bet most of those people are just out on a Sunday between 2 and 4 for entertainment.
Which gets me to my point. No offense at all to the agent who had this house listed. The agent did a great job. The pictures looked great. Great marketing too. I just don’t think open houses really help sell a house. In the internet age, exposure is never the problem. I think they are one of the few tasks an agent can do that a seller can see. It makes a seller feel good.
Selling a house is a lot like fishing. You bait the hook with quality pictures and an attractive price, drop it in the water we call the internet, and wait for a bite. Sellers don’t like that. Sellers want action. An open house is something they can see. Even if at 4:05 when you are pulling the open house sign out of the yard and telling the seller the house didn’t sell, they are happier because they saw you do something.
I often have sellers ask about doing an open house. I guess I could do one and make them feel happy, but I normally tell them how it really works.
I tell them that open houses are the 8 track player of the real estate world. They hark back to the days when there were no pictures except maybe a black and white thumbnail of the front of the house in the newspaper. An open house was the only chance a buyer had to see the inside. Now we have multiple quality pictures, inside and out, and some even have pictures to show you what the house looks like to passing airplanes.
I tell them that most people that come to an open house are either just beginning their search and not ready to pull the trigger, or are neighbors, or bored, or even thieves.
I tell them that to believe the house will sell due to an open house means that we have to believe there is a buyer out there who wants to buy the house but is too afraid to call their own agent or the listing agent to schedule a time to see it. And in this market, doesn’t mind the risk that it will sell before the open house.
I tell them I know all this because I use to do open houses all the time until I realized all I was doing was kicking them out of their home in the middle of one of their days off work.
And they always tell me they didn’t realize all that and to skip the open house.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do when your house hasn’t sold is to listen to the market. If you get feedback from showings and most of the buyer’s thought the price was high, the house needed paint, or there was some other negative, you should fix the issues or reduce the price. Remember my fishing analogy? Not responding to the negatives is like fishing with the wrong bait. Inviting all the fish to come see your bait will get you an audience, but they won’t bite if they don’t like it.
Oh, about that house across the street. How did the buyer see the house? They scheduled a private showing with their own agent.