I’ll just say right up front that I’ve never been a big fan of Open Houses. They’ve always seemed like a colossal waste of time and money. Now and then, if we have a really special property, we’ll host a Broker Open House in the hopes that other Brokers will stop by for some free food and check out our listing. Ideally they will have just the right buyer and in a matter of months, we’ll all be sitting around the closing table together. I can assure you that has never happened. In fact, the only chance we have of getting local Brokers to come to an Open House is during the winter months when everyone’s business is a little slower and they are looking for a free lunch.
A public Open House is another story. Let’s look at the anatomy of one. When you do an Open House, you’re asking your agent to send flyers to the neighbors, put signs on the street corners, and maybe even run an ad in the paper inviting people you don’t know to come walk through your house while you aren’t home. You have no idea if any of these people are actual buyers and if they are, are they qualified by a lender. Do you know if these people have criminal backgrounds? Can you spot the ones who might be scoping out your house so they can break into it at another time when you aren’t home? Can you pick out the ones who might walk through your home and pocket a valuable piece of jewelry? The answer is no. It’s been a long-standing fact that statistically, open houses are among the least effective ways of finding a buyer and when you factor in the risk, why in the world would anyone in this day and age encourage this type of activity.
As a Real Estate Broker we are placed in harm’s way more than you can imagine. Every time we meet someone to show a property or walk land with them we are at risk. Just recently an agent in Arkansas was murdered by a man she was showing a home to. Worse yet, it wasn’t a random killing. He set up the whole scenario and targeted her as a “a rich broker”.
There are certain cardinal rules in real estate that we should all adhere to to address the risks we have to deal with as part of the business. For instance, when we are meeting clients for the first time, we always go together and we always meet at the office. To this day, I never take clients out on my own unless Robert and I have both spent time working with them together. The fact is, real estate is a dangerous business for anyone who works on their own, but especially women. So when you ask your agent to hold an Open House for you, remember that you’re not only putting yourself and your home at risk, you’re putting your agent at risk as well.
Personally, I think the days of Open Houses are numbered. There are far more effective ways to find buyers that don’t involve this kind of unneccessary risk. There are a few die-hard agents in our market who continue to hold Open Houses and that’s certainly their decision. But in my opinion, in today’s world, Open Houses have no place in the scope of services that we provide our clients. So please. Don’t ask me to hold an Open House. I just won’t do it.