5 Open House Myths, Debunked

Open houses have long been a part of the real estate process for sellers. These small windows of opportunity give prospective buyers a chance to scope out homes on the market to see what’s out there, even if they’re not necessarily ready to buy just yet. More importantly, they give sellers another platform to market their property in order to get as many eyes on their listing as possible.

But even though we all know what open houses are and why they exist, there still persists some myths about them. Whether you’re on the buying or selling end, it’s important to get familiar with some of these myths and the truth behind them.

1. They’re a Waste of Time

Since most buyers typically take to the internet to begin their home search, aren’t open houses outdated and simply a waste of time? After all, buyers have the internet at their fingertips and are able to search multiple listings within a short period of time thanks to high-resolution photos, virtual tours, and video of properties on the market.

But as convenient and innovative as such digital marketing platforms certainly are, there’s no substituting for being there in person. Even though online marketing may grab the attention of prospective buyers, that rarely seals the deal. The next logical step in the process would be to view a property in person. And although buyers can make an appointment to view a home they’re interested in, open houses provide another opportunity for buyers to check out homes on the market.

Open houses are also great for buyers who may not necessarily have started their home search just yet. And by coming across an open house, that may be just enough to pique their interests and get the ball rolling when it comes to getting serious about buying and putting in an offer.

2. They Don’t Lead to Real Sales

Open houses might get a lot of traffic. They might even get a lot of prospective buyers to consider putting in an offer soon if they like what they see. But does that mean they will lead to a sale?

Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. It all depends on the market, the home itself, and the unique situation. There is no guarantee that an open house will definitely lead to a sale. One thing is for certain, however: more traffic means more people will see the home, which can’t be a bad thing. The more eyes on the home, the higher the odds of receiving an offer.

In fact, a recent Inman survey revealed that about one-third of those polled said that an open house played some sort of role in the sale of a property. While a sale as a result of an open house isn’t exactly a sure thing, it can certainly help increase the odds.

3. They’re Mandatory

Open houses usually take place shortly after a listing goes live in order to generate as much interest as possible. A listing’s interest level is usually highest and hottest during the first few days after the listing has been put up on the market, so the idea behind holding an open house during this time is to strike while the iron is hot.

But just because the tactic of holding an open house soon after a listing hits the market exists doesn’t mean there’s no option of forgoing the open house altogether. For many sellers, open houses are not an option.

Whether sellers prefer some level of privacy or anonymity while their house is on the market, or don’t like the idea of having masses of complete strangers meandering throughout their home all at once, they have the option to waive the open house if they so choose. There’s nothing written in a real estate contract that states that an open house is a mandatory part of the process.

4. They’re a Security Threat

The idea of strangers walking throughout the home and snooping behind all doors and drawers can make a seller feel uncomfortable, and understandably so. In fact, security is certainly a crucial factor to consider and account for before any open house takes place, so this particular myth isn’t exactly completely unfounded. But with the right measures in place, open houses are usually pretty safe.

Before an open house takes place, sellers are encouraged to lock up or remove any valuables, medications, or sensitive paperwork that would be an attraction for thieves. Agents hosting the open house are encouraged to keep all windows and doors locked, aside from the main entrance to the open house to make sure others are not able to enter from anywhere else. A sign-in sheet is also recommended so that agents can keep tabs on exactly who visits.

As long as the right measures are taken to secure both the home and the agent, there’s little need to use the potential threat of safety as a reason not to hold an open house at all.

5. Only Nosy Neighbors and Tire-Kickers Will Show Up

Sure, it’s highly possible and even probable that neighbors might show up with the sole intention of just seeing what’s behind closed doors. There may even be those who may have just been passing by and happened to see an open house sign, and decided to pass some of their time checking the place out.

But in addition to these possible visits, there will more likely be those who are considering making a home purchase in the near future and may even be interested in the house in question.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of advantages of holding an open house. In fact, they’re usually more of a benefit than a nuisance. That said, they’re not mandatory, so sellers can choose whether or not to have an open house after they put their homes up on the market. Savvy real estate agents know exactly how to hold a successful open house and make the most of these two-hour windows of time in order to maximize their use.