What actually sells homes? Sure, all of the hard work a real estate agent puts into listing, preparing, marketing and showing a property is well worth the investment, but is one critical aspect - the open house - doing enough to attract offers?
The short answer isn't exactly clear. A number of professionals are split on the effectiveness of this marketing tactic, and for entrepreneurial Realtors using mortgage records and other information to get ahead, figuring out the best use of their time is critical.
Several arguments against open houses
Some critics of the open house argue that while it is a great marketing ploy, what is on display is the Realtor, not the house itself, according to MSN Real Estate.
Not only are people walking off of the street and into a property, but sometimes their motives aren't related to real estate at all. Instead, thieves use the opportunity to look over a home, or steal a homeowner's possessions.
The Internet is now a significant factor in real estate, and more buyers are using this option to canvas home listings, rather than open houses. Sometimes they overlap, and Internet home searches have resulted in 62 percent of potential buyers actually walking through a home, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
Additionally, an open house was the source of information regarding a property 45 percent of the time, NAR noted. In comparison, the Internet was responsible for 90 percent, while a home book or magazine accounted for only 18 percent.
A Realtor should be knowledgeable as well, using information such as property data and real estate records from Courthouse Retrieval System.
The positives of an open house
Nearly half of buyers use an open house, according to NAR spokesman Walt Molony, who recently exchanged an email with MSN Real Estate.
"Not well understood is the fact that open houses also are attended by real estate agents, where they learn firsthand about properties that may be of interest to their buyer clients," Molony told the news source. "So while a buyer may not have first learned about the home they purchased through an open house, their real estate agent may have."
Real estate agents shouldn't be so quick to discard the concept altogether, given that information could be acquired in a variety of methods.
Implementing the correct tactics
In some cases, it appears that the level of commitment a Realtor displays toward an open house might affect the outcome. Real estate agent Jeff Sibbach contributed to real estate website Active Rain about marketing tactics his company took, and he noted that the fewer signs he displayed, the smaller the return.
Nowadays, Sibbach explained that he puts out a minimum of 10 signs for an open house. Not only do the signs display the location, but he also uses directional arrows to help guide potential visitors to the home. That way, he could reach a larger audience and place the signs further away than before.
Similar to how real estate records help agents learn the most about a property, an open house could provide insight for both Realtors and buyers. Perhaps getting rid of them completely isn't the best idea just yet.