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Open Houses: Are They Valuable?

Real estate open houses are a tradition that has been used for just over 100 years to market homes for sale. In the first half of the last century, they were called, “open for inspection.” In the 1910s and into the 1920s, homes would be available to tour every day from 9 AM to 9 PM until the house was sold. A real estate broker would spend the whole day at the house, so they were limited to handling only one listing at a time.

 

In the 1930s, real estate companies started hiring multiple agents which allowed them to have more than one listing. It was during this time that agents discovered that these open for inspections could be used for personal marketing. The term, “open house” was introduced in the 1950s and Sundays became the standard day to hold them. Agents began offering incentives to get the public to visit their open house.

 

Open houses have not really changed in the last 70 years, but the way consumers find homes for sale has. The internet has been a game changer for home buyers. In the early 2000s, just over 50% of homebuyers found the home they purchased through a combination of their real estate agent and the internet, with about 15% from a yard sign or open house. Twenty years later in 2023, 80% of buyers found the house they purchased through their real estate agent and the internet, and only 4% from a yard sign or open house.

 

In my opinion, open houses are not a very effective form of marketing for resale homes, and I don’t recommend them to my sellers. They do work very well for new construction homes, and are a great way to see different floorplans and builder techniques; however, it is better to tour homes with your agent than to go to open houses on your own.

 

A couple reasons I don’t recommend open houses to my sellers are:

 

  • There is no way to control who comes to an open house. We have no idea if they are qualified to purchase your home, or if they are actually even a buyer. Open houses are a great way for thieves to case a house for a future robbery, or even steal things during the open house. It is common for prescription drugs to come up missing, as well as jewelry and other small items. An agent and the sellers may feel good about having 5 groups through an open house on a Sunday afternoon, but how many of them were actually a buyer qualified to purchase that house?
  • It is an inconvenience for sellers to prepare for an open house, and then have to be away with children and pets for hours at a time when it is unknown if anyone will ever show up, let alone a real buyer. It is far better to accept showing requests by agents showing the house to qualified buyers.

 

Even though many think of open houses when they think of selling their home, the statistics and my experience demonstrate that they aren’t very effective. Instead, working with a licensed real estate agent and making sure your listing is available to view online are better ways to make sure your house gets sold.

 

Norwalk IA Real Estate – Jon Niemeyer, Broker/Owner/REALTOR® at EXIT Realty North Star. I list and sell real estate in Central Iowa including Norwalk, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Indianola, Carlisle, Waukee, Urbandale, Grimes, Clive, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, and Pleasant Hill in the Counties of Warren, Polk, Dallas, and Madison. Call Jon Niemeyer at 515-490-4675.   

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