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6 min read

The 5 Reasons Why Open Houses Are Still Worth It in 2022

Feb 18, 2022 9:24:36 AM

You may think COVID has made them a thing of the past, but open houses can still pay dividends for sellers.

Recent years have seen supercharged real estate markets, driven by low inventory, high demand, and record-low interest rates. At the same time, the traditional home sale process was turned upside down by the safety and health concerns associated with pandemic-related closures and social distancing. Now, however, as communities return to something like business-as-usual, buyers, sellers, and agents are all wondering “Are open houses worth it?” “Do they offer a competitive advantage?” “How does an open house work in today’s housing market?”

A couple making a deal on an open house.

Are open houses a thing of the past?

Beginning in March 2020, and even before in some areas, COVID-19 caused potential sellers and those with listings already on the open market to rethink the process of opening their homes, even to interested and well-qualified buyers. Some homeowners who were thinking about listing in the spring market decided to stay put, leading to record-low inventory and record-high demand.

As real estate agents increasingly moved to virtual open houses and online marketing options, the conventional wisdom went that the days of in-person open houses would never return. Now, however, with skyrocketing home valuations and potential buyers increasingly looking to see what they’ll be getting for their money, open houses are poised to make a comeback.

Why are open houses still a good idea?

As communities begin to go back to normal, open houses can once again work as you prepare for selling your home. Here’s why an open house might be a good idea for your listing:

  1. They offer potential buyers a chance to get a feel for the neighborhood and see things that they wouldn’t be able to see from an online listing portal, like the view from the porch or the size of the kids’ rooms.
  2. They allow buyers to see the interior space, including room size, traffic flow, and floorplan. They can figure out where the couch will go and how much closet space they’ll have. This type of visualization is an important first step in helping a home buyer imagine themselves living in the home.
  3. They provide an opportunity for the listing agent to showcase some of the home’s unique features, including those that don’t always show up in photos. This could include exceptional closet space or the way the light streams in and gleams on the hardwood flooring.
  4. They give you and your listing agent the chance to gain valuable feedback from visitors and find out what changes you may need to make to the home. This can help you determine how to increase property value, whether there are updates or upgrades you should consider, repairs that need to be made, or home staging that could help highlight the home’s potential. 
  5. By complying with proper guidelines limiting the number of people who can be in a space at any given time and implementing safety precautions as needed, it’s entirely possible to have an open house while keeping a healthy home. Make sure there is adequate ventilation and limit the number of people who can tour the property at any given time.  

Are open houses a bad idea?

Even before COVID called a halt to the traditional open house model, many sellers had already started to question its efficacy. After all, with the advent of online marketing, is there really a compelling reason to allow strangers to stroll through your house every weekend just to get it sold?

Like many aspects of the home sale process, you’ll need to let your personal preference be your guide. Talk with your real estate agent about your concerns, including security, illness, or anything else that’s on your mind. You may also want to discuss alternatives to a public open house, like a broker’s open for local real estate agents and brokers. 

Do serious buyers go to open houses?

If we’ve learned anything during the past two years, we’ve found that some people embraced the opportunity to stay home and live life via delivery and online platforms while others missed every moment of activity, socializing, and event attendance. In the same way, just as some “serious” buyers want to do most of their home shopping online or through virtual visits, others believe that there’s no substitute for an in-person visit. 

In addition, many buyers who are mindful of their negotiating position may choose to attend an open house in order to get a sense of the home without scheduling a private showing. That way they can walk the property, check out the closet space, and hang out for a while without telegraphing their intentions through multiple visits.

What should I do about lookie-loos at my open house?

You may have heard that old saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The same applies to lookie-loos – folks or curious neighbors who come to the open house to grab a cookie and peek in the bathroom cabinets. For many sellers and even real estate agents, they are an annoyance, unlikely to buy the house and taking up space from those who are more serious.

However, the same personality type that is dying to see the inside of your home is probably the one who’ll tell everyone they know it’s for sale, how big it is, and what it looks like. They may even have seen comparable homes in the area – and they know your home is better. They may just be the best source of publicity you could ask for, spreading the word so that the right buyer knows about your listing.

Do open house viewings work?

Every home sale is unique and what works for one listing may not work for another. In some coastal and resort markets, potential buyers may stop by an open house while on vacation and make a decision on the spot. In other cases, an open house may be a very preliminary step on the home buying journey, visited when the buyer is beginning to plan far ahead of time for potential homes.

It helps to stop thinking about a successful open house as the place where a prospective buyer has to come from and start thinking about it as a place where the local market can start to get familiar with your property. An open house may result in positive word of mouth among neighbors, local buyers, and their buyer agents. That word of mouth can spread through the community and eventually reach the right buyer for your home.

How do I host an open house?

The good news is that your listing agent will take care of the nuts and bolts of the open house. In many cases, buyers and their agents prefer to discuss a potential property with the listing agent rather than the homeowner. That’s because it’s more comfortable asking questions about the house without worrying about hurt feelings or giving away negotiating power.

You can talk to your listing agent about what you want to have happen at your open house. If you are uncomfortable with folks eating or drinking in your home, you can ask that there be no refreshments served or ask that they be served outside. If you would like visitors to remove their shoes, wear masks, or not use the bathroom, you can set those rules as well. It’s your home and you get to call the shots.

How do I promote my open house?

Here too, your listing agent will be able to take care of the details, though you will no doubt want to spread the word on social media or among your friend group. Your agent will post the open house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where your property is listed, notifying agents in your area of the time and day of the open house.

Beyond that, your agent will reach out to their contacts via email and may have some specific buyers in mind for the property as well. They’ll no doubt put out the word at their brokerage so that other agents can bring in their clients, too. They may also door knock or send mailers to your community so that your friends and neighbors nearby can let people know that your home is for sale.

Are virtual open houses a good idea?

As both sellers and listing agents have seen over the last couple of years, virtual open houses can offer an exceptional alternative if you are reluctant to have an in-person open house. Make sure that your home is scrupulously clean, uncluttered, and well-lit so that it will look its best on video or streaming platforms during your virtual open house. There is even software available for a seller considering virtual staging for their empty home.

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Christy Murdock

Written by Christy Murdock

Christy Murdock is a content writer, consultant, and coach who helps real estate and business professionals stand out as industry leaders through effective content marketing strategies. As a contributor and educator for leading real estate companies such as Inman and ReminderMedia, Christy is a trusted leader in real estate marketing. Through her company Writing Real Estate, Christy writes blogs, property descriptions, websites, and promotional copy that increases traffic and results in higher conversions for real estate agents, brokers and other professionals.