The Great Open House Debate

J Philip Faranda April 26, 2009

I am not a fan of open houses. The reasons are plentiful- technology has supplanted the need, my weekend afternoons are better spent elsewhere, and oh, I haven’t sold a house at an open since 1998 (more on that later). 

All markets are local, so I do understand why, for instance, a Manhattan agent would hold a co op or condo open. Having worked in the city many times, I know that opens in Manhattan are more pragmatic. There are no lockboxes in Manhattan and there just isn’t the same mobility for showings when the agent has to be present. I took advantage of an open house today in Queens on a listing I hadn’t previously had luck getting into. 

However, in my predominantly suburban market, it seems inconsistent (and risky) to promise clients that I’ll only show their home to pre-approved buyers and then one Sunday a month let in just anyone with no knowledge of their qualifications or character. Last month we had a theft at an open I hosted. More often than not, they attract nosy neighbors, curious people who saw the sign, and other non-prospects looking for decorating ideas. 

Interestingly, the sellers who want me to hold their houses open tend to be older and more excited about print advertising. It isn’t that they aren’t Internet savvy, they just have more years under their belt trusting those methods. Recently, I told a seller that holding their home open would help ME more than them, since the odds of someone walking in and buying their home were more remote than my likelihood of picking up a buyer. 

I love to make money. Seriously. And if opens made me money I wouldn’t consider them such a time and ad expense hemorrhage. But they don’t make me money, they make me lose money in exchange for pacifying sellers. Tomorrow I am going out with 2 buyers and then I am going to play with my kids and dog until I collapse. That, in my view, is a far more productive day.

Gregory and Daddy

Please rub my belly

Oh- if you’re curious about that house I sold at an open house in 1998, here’s the scoop. I was already working with the buyer.  I called them on the phone to come over.  

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