Historically, open houses have been a marketing staple for listing agents. Open houses can be an effective tool in a buyer's real estate market. However, we are in a sizzling hot seller's market right now. In this age of technology, most buyers search online for homes rather than driving around on the weekends looking at open houses. In fact, according to an article written by Cody Tromler on Upnest.com, "In 2019, only 7% found their home via a yard sign or open house." The Covid-19 pandemic also changed the concept of open houses. Many agents stopped hosting them altogether. Some agents are still conducting open houses with certain stipulations and conditions. Even though home values are rising, and houses are flying off the shelves, hosting an open house may be worth it.

The Pros of Open Houses

On the upside, there are positives to having your real estate agent host an open house. Most qualified buyers are already working with an agent. However, with today's steep competition, some buyers are taking their search into their own hands as well. Buyers are not completely relying on their agents to find homes for them to see. They are conducting their own searches online. Many listing agents post open house information online which allows the buyers to find open houses. If you are selling your house "by owner," advertising and hosting an open house is sure to bring a swarm of buyers. While attending in-person open houses, buyers get to see homes with their own eyes. They are able to walk around at their own pace. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and talk to the listing agents or sellers who knows more about the home.

The Cons

On the other hand, there are several downsides to hosting an open house when you are selling your home. Sometimes the buyers who are attending your open house are not qualified to purchase your home. On some occasions, nosey neighbors attend open houses as they may be thinking of placing their home on the market soon, looking for staging ideas or free pricing advice. Some open house attendees don't respect your home or belongings. Others may be walking around, without an agent by their sides, with unattended children, touching your property, sitting on furniture and so on. From time to time, crimes occur at open houses. If people are walking around without an agent, it's a prime opportunity for them to steal jewelry and other valuables. Agents or homeowners should never host an open house in a vacant home alone.

Who Really Benefits

Nowadays, listing agents are the ones who really benefit from holding open houses. They may be able to secure new buyers and sellers from their efforts. For example, if a neighbor walks in and is thinking of selling their home, your agent may have the opportunity to get the listing. If buyers walk through your open house, and they do not already have buyers' agents, your agent may have just secured some new buyers.

Tips for Hosting an Open House

If you are going to host your own open house or have your listing agent hold one for you, here are some tips to make it a success:
* Be sure it's advertised online on popular real estate websites and social media such as: Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Homes.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.
* Ask that there be more than one agent present, for safety reason and in order to attempt to avoid buyers walking through unattended.
* Ask buyers to show identification and sign in.
* For health safety reasons, ask everyone to wear a mask, use hand sanitizer upon entering and touch as few handles, knobs and the like, as possible.
* Lock your important documents, valuables and jewelry away.
* Ask attendees to remove their shoes or wear shoe covers.
* Do not answer any questions or give out any information that may give buyers negotiation strength.

It's no secret that houses are selling quickly, and home values are still rising. Open houses may not be necessary in today's market. In fact, in an article on homelight.com, Top Selling Agents Explain How to Do an Open House Right, "48% of top real estate agents said that they do not always recommend open houses." In special cases, an open house may bring that special buyer to your home.