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Open Houses Are Not The Selling Tool They Once Were

So. You're selling your house. You sit down with your realtor to discuss pricing, staging, and sales strategy. You think you know how this all works. "When are we going to have the open house?" you ask. To your surprise, and perhaps even consternation, the realtor says, "I wasn't planning on doing that." What's up with that answer? Aren't open houses a standard thing when you're selling a house?

Why Are Open Houses Losing Their Popularity?

In the world of Internet listings with almost unlimited photos, realtor blogs, property searches, virtual tours, and even Craig's List, open houses have become the veritable dinosaurs of selling tactics. Most realtors estimate that fewer than 2-4 percent of their sales come from open houses, events which often draw no traffic whatsoever.

Many realtors are even more reluctant to hold open houses for safety concerns -- your as well as theirs. In addition to not relishing the idea of sitting alone in an empty home open to anyone who wants to walk in the door, thieves often use such an event to "case the joint."

Private showings that allow the realtor to vet the potential clients, or to arrange to take an associate with them if something doesn't "feel" right, have become the standard in the industry. In most cases open house events are confined to new developments where the builder is hoping to show off a model unit or home.

Data compiled by the National Association of REALTORS backs up this conventional wisdom. In 1995, approximately 41 percent of buyers surveyed said they relied on open houses. By 2000, however, that number fell to 28 percent. The numbers have waxed and waned since, with many realtors admitting they tried holding open houses at the height of the real estate slump in something akin to desperation.

What Are The Ways Your Listing Should Attract Attention?

In discussing the visibility of your listing with your realtor, you want your home to be placed on the local Multiple Listing Service accompanied by good interior and exterior photographs. Normally the MLS will place a limit on the number of photos per listing. Make sure that there are additional images on your realtor's website (with a link to help interested parties get there.)

Virtual tours are also very popular. The technology behind these tours vary. Some allow viewers to "walk through" the property, changing their point of view in a room and zooming in to examine detail. Others are essentially slide presentations augmented by included text or narration.

All realtors have a database of contacts. Ask if they will be emailing the details of your listing to potentially interested parties and to associates with whom they frequently do business. A great deal of real estate is still conducted the old-fashioned way, by professional word of mouth and over the phone.

Is An Open House Ever a Good Idea?

Most real estate companies hold a variation on an open house called a "preview" to familiarize all the agency's realtors with the property. This is an excellent idea and one in which you want to participate as a homeowner if the option is available.

If a property is not doing well and has been on the market for awhile, an open house may be staged to get reactions and feedback. This may be a more or less "by invitation" affair, with your realtor contacting associates and asking them to bring clients through the property for the purpose of critique.

Conventional wisdom holds, however, that it is a mistake to hold multiple open houses at any one property. This can actually give the impression that the listing is a problem, a "hard sell," which is the last thing you want in terms of reputation.

Should I Press for an Open House?

In general, no, you should not press for an open house. If you feel that your home is being adequately displayed via all the current and popularly effective means, opening the home for the day with little possibility of actually attracting traffic, will do nothing to help the listing sell faster. It may even convey a negative image for the property.

Be aware of how your listing is being promoted and discuss the success of these efforts with your realtor. Accept, however, that selling strategies change according to the mood of the market. Right now, open houses are simply not "in vogue."

REALTORĀ® is a registered trademark of the National Association of Realtors.

Article submitted on behalf of co-author Darrell Self.

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About the Author

My name is Flor and I am studying Dramatic Literature and History and Social Studies at Woodland Hills / United States.

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