Anybody doing open houses anymore?

c9pilotFebruary 1, 2012

In the interest of generating discussion, and general curiosity:

Do you think that Open Houses are old-fashioned?

Back-up thoughts:

-Buyers are online - they want photos and virtual tours, and if they see a house they like, they're not going to wait for an open house to see it

-Are buyers still driving around randomly on the weekends?

-Sellers don't want unqualified strangers browsing through their homes - security

-Sellers don't need to find listing agents by "interviewing" at nearby Open Houses when there are online reviews and networking

-Very few homes are sold from an Open House - true?

-Open Houses are for the listing agent to get new customers, right?

-Agents - has attendance dropped - a lot? a little? none?

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Yes, my Realtor will still do them and I will go to them on occasion even though I just bought a house. I went pretty regularly when I was looking.

In our area people (walk) around and they will randomly look, but it's a walking city.

Most open houses will have a sign in sheet and usually there is more than one Realtor onsite if the house is large.

People in our area seem to go when they are interested in a property but don't want to commit to an appointment, are starting to look and see what's out there, or haven't decided on a Realtor yet.

They seem to function to get Jr agents listings, the Listing Agent rarely babysits open houses in my location--they are too busy.

Attendence is all over the place, high sometimes, zero at others. (I am selling a property right now).

I bought a house I found on open house.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Open houses are still very much in fashion here. There were over 2 dozen in Sunday's paper for my immediate area. We are small town/semi-rural, so driving around on a Sunday looking at properties and neighborhoods is what prospective homeowners do.

Open houses are how we found the houses we lived in... we love them!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Open houses for the public are not very useful here. I never go to them when I am looking and had none when I sold. I did have an agent open house which was helpful to get feedback from agents. A lot of the feedback was conflicting actually but it was overall helpful.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Open houses the first weekend a house is on the MLS are standard here. The house goes on the MLS on Wednesday night, a broker tour of open houses happens Friday morning, and regular open houses happen either Sat or Sun afternoon, sometimes both. As a buyer I always looked at the MLS on Wednesday. If I saw a house I was interested in, I'd either go to the broker open house on Friday morning on my own or meet my Realtor there. I'd then go back to the Saturday or Sunday open house.

When I sold my house last year, the people who ultimately bought my house asked to see it on Thursday, the day after it went on the MLS and before the broker tour. We held open houses on the Sat/Sunday anyway.

A large percentage of people who come through open houses are neighbors and/or just curious. I went to many myself before putting my house on the market. However, with the advent of high-quality photos online, real buyers are scouring the Internet for houses they want to see, and are going to open houses well-prepared. I think the tide has turned. In the old days Realtors had exclusive access to the MLS and printed out addresses for buyers to see, then drove buyers around to see the houses in person. Those days are over, at least in my area.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:05PM
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I do not hold OHs. It has been my experience that these lookers are not willing, able or ready buyers.
Broker opens I do not do either. If your home matches any of my buyers criteria, they will see it, I will see it, and then we will move forward.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 7:24AM
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I guess is depends on area. In our area (NY metro), there are still plenty of open houses. When we were looking for a house we went to several every weekend. We made offers on 2 houses we found through open houses.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:36AM
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Where I live it seems to be common to have an open house as part of the "coming out" of a new listing. Occasionally homes have more open houses later as well. While I appreciate the opportunity to check out the competition (I've been touring open houses since last summer, to make note about the condition and other factors that I can use when looking at sold comps when we're pricing our house), I'm not a big fan as an owner, for the reasons NC stated. I don't particularly care to have non-buyers poking around my house unescorted.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Very common here in Massachusetts. We just listed our home and the first open house drew 16 different parties and one offer. We have several people coming back this weekend for a second showing. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I do think they help, at least in our area, but I wouldn't do more than a couple at the start. A well-priced home that shows well is still what will draw the crowds.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:10PM
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For the persons who say they made an offer after seing a home during an open house... How did you find the house in the first place to know that it was open? This is what sold the house.In other words, do you think you would have offered on the home even though it was not held open?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:17AM
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"For the persons who say they made an offer after seing a home during an open house... How did you find the house in the first place to know that it was open? "

In our case, for the last two...

the house we are in now - we were driving in the neighborhood looking at another house, saw this one open and stopped in.

The house before this one - we were visiting a friend who mentioned that the house down the street was 'open housed' and would we want to go look with her.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 9:00AM
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LuAnn, would you have seen these homes during your regular home search? Maybe through the internet or through the MLS with your agent.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:04AM
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We never bothered with Open Houses when house hunting. We were looking for a specific type of house and the OH were not what we were looking for. That and we didn't want to be bothered by an agent collecting names of new potential clients. We checked the MLS book and did drive bys. But OH are still going on in my area. Not a lot, but still happening. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 9:21AM
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I guess in the modern world I just don't get the idea of the Open House. We've been looking for a house. I have regular MLS searches set up and so I'm notified if any new houses come on the market or if an existing one changes price. I look at the photos and description of the houses and decide if it seems to meet my criteria. If it does, then I will arrange to see it.

An open house really doesn't influence that. If a house meets my criteria then it will be on my list and I'll go see it. If it doesn't meet my criteria then I don't care that it has an open house scheduled since I'm not interested in it....

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 1:31PM
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They very rarely do open houses in my area. The only open houses you see are mainly brand-new model homes within subdivisions where they are still building. The "realtor" selling the model home is often solely employed by the builder.

When we sold our house back in December, our realtor held an "agent's open house". This was her idea, not mine, but I welcomed it. She was offering a $25 gas card as a door prize. We had 4 people show up - 3 realtors and one nosy neighbor - what a joke. None of the realtors ever came back with a client. They all filled out a little questionaire about the house, and that was supposed to be helpful, but even that was a joke. Every realtor said I was overpriced and I needed to do more improvements, and 2 of them rated the house at 3 out of 5 (5 being the best), and one rated it as a 4. The nosy neighbor said house was priced right, needed nothing, and rated it as a 5. End result - house sold in only 6 weeks without any additional improvements, and I got within $10k of asking price. That tells me all these realtors involved didn't have a clue. If I had taken the realtors' opinions seriously(and we all know the little phrase we use for opinions), it would have cost me a whole lot more money.

I think the whole open house idea is out of date, and does not net any real results. Most people see what they need to see with a good presence on the internet. Most people are too busy and do not want to be bothered keeping a schedule, as most of these houses are only open for about 4 to 6 hours.

People DO drive around by themselves w/o an agent looking for houses. I see unfamiliar cars driving slowly through the neighborhood every now and then, and it's pretty obvious they are house hunters. When we were looking for houses we did the same thing. We had 4 favorite subdivisions we would constantly drive through. Our thinking was that one day a house might pop up for sale that had not made it to the internet yet, and maybe we would have first dibs.

This driving around actually worked for us (sort of). At one of our favorite houses, they had placed a bunch of Christmas decorations at the end of the driveway they were throwing away. I have never classified myself as a trash picker, but I also hate to see perfectly good stuff get wasted. They had 4 bags of garland, 1 bag of lights, 3 life-size deer lawn ornaments that lit up, and a huge wreath. When I stopped to look at it, 2 people came walking their dog down the street. I got to talking to them, and it came out that we were looking for houses. They said I should ask if the house was for sale. They heard the people were retiring and moving away. I went to the house, knocked on the door and asked if they minded if I took some of the Christmas stuff. He looked at me kind of weird (they way you might look at a trash picker, I guess) and started closing the door on me. Then I asked if the house was for sale. He flung the door back open and the way he looked at me totally changed. We got an immediate tour of the house, we were there for about an hour. He told me what he wanted for the house, and we were sort of shocked. This had been one of our favorite houses, and had no idea we could actually afford it. We had always thought it was way out of price range. We knew immediately during the tour that this was THE house, and we ended up buying it. We negotiated our price within 3 days, and we went to closing within a month.

Driving around definitely worked for us. The reason I said "sort of" was because looking back, I now realize we actually sort of screwed up. The house wasn't even on the market, he didn't have to pay a realtor, and we actually ended up paying a higher price because of that. Had we been more patient and allowed him to list it, let it sit unsold for a while, THEN we could have come in and probably gotten a much better price. But at the same time, we had been looking for a long time for the perfect house, and we didn't want to risk someone else snatching it away from us. The way it all came about definitely feels like it was our destiny. Who would ever think picking through someone's trash would result in a house sale? Too strange - I definitely believe this was God's plan. We have been totally happy in this house, it has everything we need, and it's a great neighborhood with lots of decent people.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 2:00PM
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"LuAnn, would you have seen these homes during your regular home search? Maybe through the internet or through the MLS with your agent."

No way of knowing that!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 3:13PM
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For the persons who say they made an offer after seing a home during an open house... How did you find the house in the first place to know that it was open?

We got email listings each week of open houses in targeted areas and usually hit at least one or two per weekend. Because we live in a large metro area and weren't fixated on a particular town, and weren't set on a particular style of home but just felt like we would "know it when we saw it," we found it a helpful way to see what was out there without bugging our realtor on a "maybe," and frankly, we liked the opportunity to see the homes on our own. I could have (and did) look at all of the houses online before attending the open house, but an open house is the only way you can get in without your agent. One of the houses we made an offer on after seeing it at an open house-- we were just driving by on the way home from an appointment and saw the sign. We weren't even aware of the neighborhood until then, and it turned out we loved it (unfortunately the house fell through for a number of reasons). The other house we found through the open house listings and just dropped in. The first one we would not have seen with our agent. The second one we may or may not have seen with her. We brought her back to both of them before we made offers, though-- we felt that she had done plenty of work for us so we wanted to ensure she got her commission.

I think the way things are done in real estate is highly local. In our area, there are no "parades of homes" that others talk of on this site, and open houses tend to be very active.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 7:13PM
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Still very common in the New York City marketplace.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 6:08AM
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My friend just sold her 500k house by Open House. I have started looking at Open houses of those that I like. I want to get a feel for the neighborhoods and what houses are selling for inreal time, not pics. i dont have my house for sale yet, but since houses seem to be on the market longer, I just might have the opportunity to buy one through an open house in the near future. i am finding a lot of duds . So at least it helps me to not bug the homeowner for a showing when I am really interested. If the perfect house came up, I would have to think about how to wing it though.:)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 6:39PM
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In our area yes they do. You go on the MLS and first weekend have an open house. Pictures can be deceiving and often people want to be there in person to really decide, but people are busy and don't want to make an appointment and commit to a time if they don't know if they will like the place. I like open houses myself because I prefer to look without having a realtor pointing things out and trying to talk me into the place.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 11:15PM
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It is my understanding very few houses are sold through an open house viewing. The open house is a benefit to the listing agent. The agent uses it as a way to meet new potential clients.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:07AM
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I like to go to open houses. We are not able to buy right now, so I hate making an appointment knowing that the owners have to clean and get their hopes up. However, since our house is currently for sale, we will be buying eventually and I like to see what's out there for us. There have been several houses that I knew were for sale based on our internet searches but had no desire to see. When I went to their open houses while just driving by one day, I was in love. Their listings couldn't show me everything I guess. If it hadn't been for their open house, I'd have never considered those. They've all sold by now, sigh.

I am going to have some open houses now, for the same reason and also so we have the motivation to keep our house clean.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 3:46PM
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I appreciate open houses as they allow me to evaluate the different house styles and neighborhoods without feeling as though I'm getting a seller's hopes up. DH hates looking at houses, so it's up to me to screen the prospects.

We bought our current house through an open house that I doubt our Realtor would have shown me. This was in 2003, when the entire DC metro area was in a home-buying frenzy. As a very motivated buyer, I was willing to spend 8 hours/day reviewing houses, but owing to the large numbers of buyers just like me, the Realtor could give me only 2 half-days per week. So on the weekends, I raced around to as many open houses as could be visited.

There appears to have been a considerable decrease in open houses in this area over the last few years. I browse the MLS databases to keep an eye on prices around here and appreciate the pictures posted with most listings, but the pictures cannot begin to convey the ambiance of a particular house -- i.e., how it feels to be inside it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 2:22PM
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I'm a Realtor and enjoy doing Open Houses. It gives me an opportunity to have a good number of buyers through in a short 2-3 hour period and also allows me to meet potential clients. My OH last Sunday netted 9 families coming through from 1 - 3 p.m., which is quite busy for my area. Many of them had realtors of their own but, for whatever reason, still hit the OHs on Sundays.

A particularly interested family came back through with their Realtor this morning. Maybe an offer will come from that showing.

Personally, my last home sold to a family that saw it first at an OH. They came through on a Sunday, called their agent and came back on Monday. We had an offer by Monday evening.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Frozenelves wrote:
"I like to go to open houses. We are not able to buy right now"

As is true for 99% of the people that visit OHs. I personally do not get why people waste time visiting OHs if they are not buyers yet.
Busybme, do you no think that that potentially interested buyer, who already has an agent, would have viewed the home anyway? I do.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:45AM
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> I personally do not get why people waste time visiting OHs if they are not buyers yet.

But it's not a waste of time. It's an excellent way to get an idea of what a given neighborhood is like, especially the interior layouts, which in many neighborhoods will be pretty much the same for most houses in a developer-built community, and you can't really get a good idea of how a house flows from those tiny photos in a listing.

I spent a lot of time doing open houses before I bought and they were very helpful. I wouldn't have wasted an agent's time with individual showings before I was ready to commit, but going to open houses definitely pinned down where I wanted to be and the process went very fast when I was ready to move.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:32AM
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I also don't think they are a waste. It would be like saying "why waste time dating if you aren't ready to get married" !! As a buyer or seller going to OHs is field research. Good realtors will photograph a house from the best angles and only a live visit will show all the flaws. When you are ready to buy or sell you can use your first hand knowledge of the comps you visited to make an offer or price your house.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 1:48PM
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We have our house for sale, so we WILL be buyers when we sell. I do not like being rushed into a decision which is how I will feel when we are forced to buy. There are many houses we've seen that we intially were in love with. After a few weeks, we realized they weren't the best for us. Other times, I didn't like a house based on it's mls listing but loved it when I happened to see it at an open house. I wouldn't have made an appointment to see it otherwise.

Our first option is to build, but it would be nice if a house would come up in our price range that we could buy. I'll admit to enjoying open houses just because we have such unique homes in our city. I don't mind if just lookers come to my open house either.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:18PM
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I agree with frozenelves. Im the same way. We are putting ours up for sale soon, but I want to get a feel for neighborhoods, and what type of houses were built then. And, if one of the houses I saw is still up for sale when I can buy, I am going to make an offer. I am also going to be ready to jump on a good new listing fitting my requirements because I have figured out what will work for our family. My last house sold because a couple went through my open house, sat on it, then finally jumped on it 2 months later, when they figured out how to make it happen.
and, I agree that I dont want to waste a realtors time as well as put out the homeowner when im not ready to make an offer.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I go to open houses. I look at houses on Trulia and decide which ones I like and then if there is an open house, I go. I find that the pictures don't do the house justice in either a good or bad way.
I have owned four houses. My current one I built. One was the second house my realtor showed me. The other two I bought after seeing them on open houses when I was thinking of buying. They were before the days of internet advertising; I found the ads for open houses in the paper.
My daughter just bought a house. They had a realtor but found nothing with the realtor. She and her husband happened to be out riding their bikes and stopped in front of a house with a sale sign and the owner showed them around. They contacted their realtor and bought the house.
I think open houses are still useful. That being said, if I do decide to sell my house, I won't do one, but my place is kind of specialized and not really suited to the casual fall in love type of looker (I have a horse farm).

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Open Houses are alive and well in my area. I read a local blog about local houses, some poster go to many of them. I do go to ones that interest me since I know I do want to move in the future, looking at opens gives me more information about my market.
Here is the blog I read, there are twenty open houses this weekend on redfin and twenty-seven listed in the local paper.

Here is a link that might be useful: mbconfidential

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:01AM
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"For the persons who say they made an offer after seing a home during an open house... How did you find the house in the first place to know that it was open? "

On Trulia or any of the other sites?

I've seen Open Houses on Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia,, etc.

We bought ours after seeing it listed on Trulia. We drove by and then noticed there was going to be an Open House. It was easier to take a peek without having to call someone to hold our hand to look at it.

The seller had three Open Houses before we made an offer. We found out more information with each visit. He was present at most of them. His agent wasn't happy that we didn't have an agent and tried to pressure us into using one from her agency.

We told her this wasn't necessary, we were using a real estate lawyer for a flat fee. When we decided we were serious, we had our lawyer draw up the contract and handle further communications with them from that point on. Sure made it easier.

Now we see that the seller has purchased another foreclosure (9th) and is having Open Houses on this one as well.

Apparently Open Houses do work otherwise sellers wouldn't have them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:14PM
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