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Report: open houses may not help sell homes

As thousands of homes commence Nationwide Open House weekend, some question the validity of open houses as a selling tool, and it turns out that as with real estate, the answer is always local.

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The science behind open houses

As over 31,000 homes open their doors this weekend for the “Nationwide Open House Weekend,” one brokerage asserts through their new report that the effectiveness of an open house is not consistent from city to city. Looking at a quarter of a million listings in nine cities across the nation, Redfin donned their “we’re scientists” hat from 2007, and revealed that not all cities are created equal.

First, the brokerage noted that some cities rank highly for volume of open houses, while others barely use them at all:

  1. San Francisco – 83 percent of listings hold an open house
  2. Boston – 63 percent
  3. Seattle – 53 percent
  4. DC – 44 percent
  5. Queens – 41 percent
  6. Portland – 32 percent
  7. Los Angeles – 29 percent
  8. Chicago – 22 percent
  9. Austin – 21 percent
  10. Phoenix – 5 percent
  11. Las Vegas – 3 percent

Product Manager for Statistics and Trends at Redfin, Tim Ellis wrote, “Apparently every weekend is open-house weekend in San Francisco. In fact, holding an open house is so expected there that homes that don’t hold an open house are a full seven percentage points less likely to sell than those that do. In Las Vegas and Phoenix, where open houses are rare, the exact opposite is true. Homes that don’t hold an open house are 17 percentage points more likely to sell than those that do.”

Ellis added, “Everywhere else, the picture gets a little more fuzzy. In the other eight markets we examined, there was virtually no difference in the percentage of homes that sold, whether they had an open house or not.”

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Additionally, the national brokerage dug deeper to find that homes that held an open house within the first week of listing rather than later performed far differently:

Should Realtors hold open houses?

“So should you hold an open house?” Ellis asks. “If you’re in San Francisco, absolutely. If you’re in Phoenix or Las Vegas, probably not. Everywhere else, it most likely doesn’t really matter whether or not you hold an open house, but if you’ve got a good agent, he or she will probably hold one anyway.”

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Roland Estrada

    April 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I find this amusing. Most agents know the only reason we hold open houses is to troll for prospects. Anyone else that thinks open houses sell homes is delusional.

    • Jeff Brown

      May 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      The part I liked best was, “. . . it most likely doesn’t really matter whether or not you hold an open house, but if you’ve got a good agent, he or she will probably hold one anyway.”

      What? Huh? Classic

  2. Rudy

    April 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I hold open houses 24/7 every single day until the house sells. Anyone in the world can view a full walk through of the entire home, at their leisure. They can see it once, twice or dozens of times. They’re not hounded by a pushy house salesperson – ever. They may stay as long as they’d like.

    I do a walk through video tour, professionally shot, on every single listing. I haven’t held an open house in a decade, and have no plans to ever do so. My time is more valuable than that.

    • Roland Estrada

      April 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm

      Well isn’t that sweet. You go girl.

  3. Greg Cook

    April 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Tara, I’ve always been taught that the purpose(s) of an open house was to 1) let the seller know you’r working 2) Generate buyer leads?

  4. Krystyna Baty

    April 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Open house will increase the exposure to buyers – isn’t that what we promise the sellers?

  5. Anna Altic

    April 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I like this article but would love to see one about communities and markets where open houses do actually work and tricks agents use to convert business. In Nashville’s urban neighborhoods, open houses are a very useful tool and I expect anywhere from 10-50 people through depending on the location and price point of the home. I have sold at least 5 homes directly from open houses over the years and brought in millions of $$ in transactions from open houses. My advice is if you work or farm a specific neighborhood then you absolutely should be doing open houses because it’s a great way to get to know the community.

  6. Marcia Burgos-Stone

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    They are obsolete.

  7. Christi Borden

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    In Houston, we have so many International buyers and many of them tend to visit Open Houses first before contacting an agent so I have sold many homes to visitors of open houses who later came back to view with a Realtor and then made an offer,

  8. Valarie Kubacki

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I have had a ton of people come through today while I don’t believe that an open house in a rural location will sell a house it certainly will on a busy road!

  9. Eric Hempler

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    They’re only done to try to get buyer clients

  10. Marie Mattingly

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I did my 1ST open house in 2006 and sold a house in Lake St Louis for $680,000. I had only been licensed 3 months. I’m a BELIEVER!

  11. Jeff Underwood

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I believe that video marketing will overtake traditional real estate marketing within the next several months. According to Cisco, by 2013 up to 90% of internet traffic will be video based. Video WINS! Are you going to use video or get left behind?

  12. Stacie Evans Ricci

    May 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Ugh! I can’t stand watching videos. I’d rather be able to read it on my smartphone at my leisure.

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