The Truth Every Home Seller Should Know About Open Houses (especially during a pandemic)

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 14 July 2020 04:03

open house

Open houses have been a staple of the real estate industry forever.  But for many modern agents, the low effectiveness of securing a buyer from an open house versus the risk is not worth the effort of an open house.

Now, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, open houses could be putting your family at risk from potential exposure to the coronavirus. Yet, you still see agents having “safe” open houses. 

Let me tell you I have been forced to show homes at these “safe” open houses.  They aren’t so safe.  Agents with masks pulled down and other attendees crowding into rooms are some of the practices that leave me uneasy. And after you read this article, all for nothing.

So as a seller do you forgo open houses?

This Connecticut real estate board highlights the danger of open houses and the risks they pose.  And statistics show you maybe have only  3% or less chance of selling it at an open house.

Homelight did a survey citing that most agents lean towards open houses as not being effective to sell a home.  Yet why do every weekend we see open houses littered across any given town?

What Is The Purpose Of An Open House?

First, lets remember, as a listing agent, your agent has a fiduciary responsibility to you, the home sellers.  Everything a listing agent does should put the seller’s best interest first.  Their job is to get the seller the most money with the least amount of hassle for their client’s home.

That leads us to the sole purpose of an open house.  The purpose is to secure a buyer who can close on your client’s home in the next 30 to 60 days.  If they can’t close on your home in a timely manner, why are they even there?

What Is The Real Truth About Open Houses Attendees?

The real truth? Many of your open house attendees are not really buyers for your client’s home.  Meaning they can’t buy in the immediate future or have no intention of buying your home.

At a recent open house, I had 9 groups of attendees.  You may think great nine buyers!

But 4 were neighbors and 4 were investigating options for downsizing.  Not one of those attendees had the intention to buy my seller’s home.  They were using the open house for ulterior motives other than buying it.

The last couple was with their agent that had already scheduled a showing.  They would have come whether we had the open house or not.  This is a reoccurring theme at many open houses.

Most open house attendees are not in the position to your home, even if they wanted to.  They are there because of curiosity, they have time to kill, or they are researching for a future purchase.

Who Is Showing Up At Your Open Houses?

The real problem with an open house is it is just that…. open to anyone.... potentially being positive for Covid 19!  The only qualification for an open house attendee is to get themselves through the front door.

 How many of us have gone to an open house with no intention of buying?  Come on we know you have.

So who is showing up at our open houses?

The real truth behind open houses every home seller should know

Let’s Be Real

Most home buyers are scouring the internet daily to find the perfect home.  They call their agent that is representing them as a buyer’s agent to schedule a personal showing.   

The reality is the internet has put every home for sale at the fingertips of every buyer within minutes of coming on the market.  The internet and smart phones have created a huge shift in how buyers find homes.  Your first showings are online.

It is also unrealistic to think that someone not in the market to buy a home, is going to suddenly want to buy your clients home, without ever having the thought of buying. 

The reality…. Often many people showing up at your open houses are not in the position to close on your client’s home in a timely manner, even if they wanted to.  There could be a house to sell, they need to prepare it, they need to get financed, etc…. They might not even qualify.

The Agents Motivation To Do An Open House

The reason why real estate agents love open houses is it is a chance to get in front of buyers and sellers as well as splash signs marketing themselves all over the place. It is really a low cost or even free way to market themselves in a community.  Our open houses benefit us more than our home sellers.  This is the reason that open houses are still a staple in the real estate industry.

Remember though our legal responsibility as listing agents is what is best for the home seller, not what is best for ourselves or our brokerage. 

Another reason some agents love open houses is it is a highly visible activity to show our sellers we are doing something. For less experienced agents, when the going gets rough, they do an open house.  It is a way to appease the sellers and show they are doing something proactive.  Yet there are far better activities an agent can do to promote your home.

Think of open houses as quantity vs quality.

The Downsides of an Open House

Real estate statistics show that less than 7% of homes are sold of a direct result of an open house or for sale sign, so lets cut that in half and say less than 3.5% of homes are sold as a direct result of an open.  

It's Inconvenient- Many home sellers find the open house inconvenient.  Preparing for an open house can be downright stressful in an already stressful process.

Safety-  More important, is safety.  A lot of press about crimes against agents and sellers at open houses is in the news.  You are also opening your client’s house up to attendees that may be willing to commit crimes against your client or their family….  Casing homes to rob, identity theft, drug seekers, etc…

As an agent, you may say you never had a problem, but here are what news agencies are reporting.

Real estate agent attacked at an open house

Drug Dealers Seeking Prescription Drugs At Open Houses

Drug Seeking Behavior On The Rise At Open Houses

Agent Murdered At An Open House

Burglarers Nabbed After Open House

Now, real estate agents and home sellers have to worry about the coronavirus for the sake of our home seller’s families.  This looks like this may be a safety concern for a long time to come.

Do you want just anyone traipsing through your home who really have no intention of buying?  With agent assisted showing you know your potential buyers have been pre-screened by their agent


There can be a time and a place to hold open houses at critical junctures of a listing. But, at the end of the day, the house will sell whether there is an open house or not.  Doing open house after open house is not a good use of your time or your time.   Never mind potential exposure to Covid-19.

A listing agent you should be honestly discussing the pro’s and cons of an open house with your selling clients.  Be real about who is really showing up at your client's open houses and some of the safety concerns of an open house.

The internet has certainly created a shift in the industry.  Online listings have gone past a few listing photos. Homebuyers can get far more information than ever before, through numerous, high quality photos, floor plans, google maps, etc.., The amount of information available to home buyers makes open houses less of a necessity.

With 50% of buyers pulling the trigger on the home because of the internet, there are far more important things a listing agent can focus on, starting with a great online presence of a home.

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Kevin Vitali

I have been a full-time real estate agent since 2002.  When it comes to helping home buyers and sellers experience matters.  I have hundreds and hundreds of successful transactions under my belt.  Each one brings a set of challenges to the table for me to draw on to help you buy or sell a home.

Home Buying-  I work as a Massachusetts Buyer's Agent representing your best interest in a home purchase.  I can work with you throughout the entire process from deciding if buying a home is right for you, to recommending a great home inspector, to a successful close on your new home. 

Home Selling-  Over the years I have developed a Marketing Plan that gets your home sold.  I can work with you on preparing your home for maximum return, to pricing it properly, to leveraging professional photography and the internet.  All adds up to getting your home sold for the most amount of money, in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of hassle.

I am based out of EXIT Group One Real Estate in Tewksbury MA and cover all of Essex County and Northern Middlesex County in Massachusetts.  If you are looking to buy or sell give me a call.

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