Selling a home: Should I have an open house?

Dahna Chandler
Dahna Chandler
The Mortgage Reports Contributor
October 13, 2018 - 3 min read

In this article:

“Should I have an open house?” you probably wonder, especially if your home has been on the market for a couple of weeks without a lot of interest. Open houses have their good points and drawbacks, and your decision depends on the tradeoffs you’re willing to make.

  • Your neighbors will show up — and while they may not be in the market, they may know someone who is
  • Open houses can also attract thieves, so consider your neighborhood and your home security
  • The success of an open house depends on the preparation and promotion. How much work are you (or your agent) willing to do?

If you’re motivated and want to sell your home fast, consider staging it for a brief time, get your video and photos done and hold an open house. That way, potential buyers can see your home with its best foot forward, regardless of the state in which they catch you at a later date.

Checking out: It’s a good thing

Before you decide whether you want to hold an open house, make sure you’ve disconnected from your home emotionally. That’s easier to do if you have a real estate agent because you don’t attend your open houses. And people may say things you take personally — either just reacting to it negatively or trying to lower your price.

Related: Can I sell my home myself?

So, stop thinking of your property as your family home, your first marital home or whatever will tie you emotionally to the house. Think of it as part of an upcoming business transaction in which you make the best deal you can.

Once you’ve taken this first step, here’s what to weigh if you’re considering having an open house.

Who’ll show up at your open house?

Holding open houses on a consistent basis until you sell your home is vital, according to some experts. The more you show, the more likely you’ll sell. But open houses require significant work to get the right people to show up. You want yours to be more than a neighborhood house tour or block party.

Related: Selling a home without the hassle (full-service home prep available)

This strategy can work if yours is a tight-knit community where everyone chats on neighborhood social media groups. Your neighbors can help you choose the right buyer (picking their new neighbors) as well as sell the house and community to prospective sellers. They also might refer appropriate buyers.

Looky loos and thieves

However, if yours isn’t this kind of community, your neighbors may show up because they’ve always wanted to see how you live. Not only will sellers experience your discomfort, but your neighbors also may leave a poor impression on potential buyers.

You also want to avoid unqualified buyers. And thieves casing your place for a later break-in or stealing valuables during the event.

Related: Home security tips and tricks (keeping the bad guys out)

These considerations make marketing that’s professional, more specifically targeted and vigorous essential. That will help you get the best outcomes for open houses — the ones that lead to sales. It starts with properly preparing your home for sale.

Make sure your home security system is working properly, but that you’ve dismantled and hidden any IoT peripherals that would be tempting for kids or thieves. That includes extra cameras and smart speakers that you don’t need showing during your open house.

Consider having people sign in, and make sure that more than one person will be “working” your open house. It may be your agent and an assistant, your agent and a mortgage lender, your agent and one of your friends, etc. Just so that someone can keep track of visitors when the other is distracted.

How much work goes into an open house?

Successful open houses require work and preparation. Skip that, and they are a waste of time.

  • Clean up clutter
  • Make repairs
  • Stage your home
  • Increase your curb appeal
  • Promote your open house online, by mail, with signage and fliers
  • Remove valuables and private items

If you’re not willing to make this much effort, perhaps having an open house is not your thing.

Final tips for open house day

Here are a few final considerations before swinging your doors open to prospective buyers.

Exercise open house etiquette, too. Don’t make buyers remove shoes unless it’s necessary for religious or cultural reasons. Unless you live in Hawaii, where it’s expected. Take the kids to a babysitter and board pets or find a sitter for them, too. Don’t rush buyers through the house, balk when they ask questions or try pushing them to make an offer.

Related: How to stage your house yourself

Create the right mood in the house, depending on your target buyer. At very least, moderate your home’s temperature, so that it’s comfortable, make sure the lighting is right, and eliminate odors. Remember that what’s normal for you isn’t for everyone.

Finally, consider serving snacks and / or water to thank buyers for coming. It’s a nice touch that buyers appreciate.