Q: Should we hold an Open House?

This is  a question I get asked quite a lot: should we hold an Open House or not? The answer is: it’s up to you.

Open Houses will sometimes generate a buyer, but it doesn’t happen as often as you might think. More often, a realtor arranges a showing, and that turns out to be your buyer.

Sometimes, an Open House (OH) will bring in people who happen to be driving or walking by and decide to pop in. They may be looking in the neighbourhood but haven’t seen your MLS listing, and so they have no idea what your house is like until they’re inside. The chance of one of them deciding yours is “the one” is pretty remote, but they’ll often provide feedback as to what they think. (Although I have a colleague who had clients who regularly went to Open Houses and raved to the agent there about how perfect the houses were, and then went back to my colleague and told her how much they hated them. Sigh.)

Often  the OH will bring in someone whose realtor has told them there will be an Open House and has suggested they go around to take a look. With lots of inventory on the market, I’m seeing more of the latter, and that’s great. If those same folks make an appointment with their realtor to take a second look, that shows some interest. But we can’t really find out much from them at the OH in terms of feedback because once we know they have a realtor, we aren’t supposed to communicate with them.

If you have dogs and/or kids and finding that the idea of getting organized for an OH is daunting, you don’t have to have one at all.  Sometimes an OH in the right neighborhood will generate lots of activity; other times, only a few people will come through, and sometimes none. It can depend on something as basic as the weather. But you can be certain that if someone is really interested in your listing, they’ll arrange to see it either by contacting the listing agent or their own realtor to set up a showing whether you hold an OH or not.

So why hold one? Well, what an OH does do is let your agent identify possible prospects (future clients) which is good for them, and at the same time, get some feedback about how well your house shows and whether people think it’s fairly priced (which is good for you).  And you may find a buyer: after all, all you need is one. But if the hassle outweighs the benefit, you can tell your realtor you’d prefer not to have one, and that’s okay too.

The one OH I strongly recommend, however, is the one your agent may suggest as part of the regular Thursday morning Agent Open Houses. (In Quebec, these are called “caravans.”) A list of agent open houses gets circulated to all the agents in our office. You may only get a handful of agents show up, but those agents have clients and they often go back to the office and talk about the listings they’ve seen. So it’s a much more targeted, savvy kind of marketing.

These are usually held anytime between around 10:30 to 1:30 but can vary depending on agents. We most often have them on Thursdays  but I’ve held some on Fridays, too, and I’ve seen some hosted during commuter Open Houses as well (ie around 5-7 PM).

One final thing to mention: sometimes homeowners (and agents too) will prepare refreshments for those coming through. It’s a nice touch, but not necessary. The people coming through are in and out pretty quickly; most of that food is left untouched.

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