For decades, real estate agents have used open houses as a strategy to sell homes. Before the internet, open houses were a popular way for buyers to see homes. Yet, practically all buyers go online to see homes now. That reality has led some agents to question the necessity and effectiveness of holding an open house. In most cases, making the home available for private showings is the better way to sell a home.

When an Open House Is Useful

When there hasn’t been much activity associated with a property, a well-attended open house can create a sense of urgency. Seeing other interested buyers can motivate attendees to make their offers.

Open houses have another benefit for you as a seller’s agent. You can observe a buyer’s level of enthusiasm about the home. This knowledge can be helpful later when you have to negotiate on your client’s behalf.

The Downside of Open Houses

Anyone can attend an open house. The people who show up may have no intention of purchasing a home. Attendees may be neighbors or passersby. There have even been stories of couples using open houses as cheap dates. Also, there’s no guarantee attendees are providing accurate contact information so that you can follow-up with them later.

Open houses frequently have a relaxed, party-like atmosphere. Given the casual nature of the event, a seller’s agent has to be careful. You don’t want your small talk with buyers to reveal information about the seller’s reason for selling the home. Be warned. Some buyer’s agents send their clients to open houses with instructions to gather clues from the listing agent about the seller’s motivation.

The Biggest Problem with Open Houses

Open houses rarely sell homes. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) noted just seven percent of buyers found the home they purchased through an open house.

Since open houses have such a low success rate, you may be wondering why they’re so popular among your colleagues. The same NAR report also mentions that 53 percent of buyers go to an open house at some point during their home search. In other words, open houses are still popular with buyers. That makes open houses a good strategy for finding new clients.

Reasons to Sell through Private Showings

Buyers at private showings are usually serious. They are going out of their way to schedule a time to see a particular home. Typically, they know how much they can pay for a home and are touring homes in their price range.

Many buyers like private showings. They can schedule them at their convenience rather than trying to fit an open house into their already busy schedule. They like the opportunity to examine the home more closely than they can during an open house.

Convincing a Seller to Allow Private Showings

Some sellers are reluctant to allow private showings. These sellers often still live in the home. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by keeping the home buyer-ready at all times. They’d rather schedule open houses because they like knowing far in advance when buyers will be in the home.

It’s time to embrace your role as your seller’s expert for all things related to real estate. It could be helpful to share the statistic showing how poorly open houses perform. You may also want to share the effective marketing strategies you’ve used to sell other homes.

Finally, the NAR report said 67 percent of buyers visited a home they found online. You may want to let your seller know that’s why you want to put high-quality photos of the home online to get those buyers to schedule a private showing.

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