I happened to see one of my friends who is successful in real estate this weekend.  I asked him, “Don’t you have an open house to be at?”  He laughed and said, “No, I haven’t held an open house in 10 years.”  I found that fascinating.  After all, when I have listings, I always have an open house the first weekend the home is available.  And, I know he has open houses as well, so what happened?  Should you hold an open house in St. Louis or No?

My Case For An Open House

I think there are a lot of good reasons to hold an open house in St. Louis.  I think that if I am going to list a house for sale, my job is to get it sold.  The only reason I don’t hold open houses are for weather (snow, etc.) or if the house has a strong offer on it and the seller has requested we not continue with an open house.

  1. The house gets exposure. Sometimes, new home buyers are nervous about signing with a real estate agent.  They use the open house to see property to get a better understanding about what is available in the marketplace without dragging their agent to each home.
  2. Nosy neighbor education. The nosy neighbor wants to know everything going on in your life.  They want to know what you have in your home that they don’t.  They want to see how you decorated your house and if it is better than theirs.  These people need to see your house before it sells, or they will have to wait until it goes for sale again.  Or, maybe it never goes up for sale again in their lifetime and they are forever sad.  You don’t want your nosy neighbor who you are leaving to be sad, do you?
  3. The house might actually sell. I’ve held enough open houses to know that buyers will oftentimes use the open house to make a final decision on a purchase.  For example, they could have walked through the house on a Saturday with their agent, and liked the home, but just weren’t ready to write a contract.  On the open house, when there are other people there, and they are all saying nice things, it can spur an offer.
  4. You get to meet people. I’ve met all sorts of interesting people when I’ve held open houses.  A lot of the people are involved with buying or selling homes.  It’s an active group.  This contrasts with someone filling out a form online, or a friend of a friend that might be looking to buy a house.
  5. Open house attendees share their opinions. I’ve had people walk through my open houses and tell me the house is priced too high and it will never sell.  More often than not, I get a contract or even two on the same day at asking price.  Other attendees of my open house tell me what they are seeing as they are usually looking at more than one house.  Sometimes a house isn’t in the sweet spot of what the buyers are looking for.

My Agent Friend’s Case for No Open House

I was really surprised that he trashed open houses.  I don’t know if I caught him off guard or what, because I’ve seen him hold open houses.  These are the reasons he gave.

  1. It wastes the whole day. So, you spend a few hours before the open house preparing, and then you have the open house, and it’s four or five o’clock on a Sunday and you haven’t accomplished much.  I can definitely see this.  Also, what happens when you have buyers that want to see houses on Sunday?  If the home you want to see has an open house, the seller is likely to reject the showing request.  If you want to see the house after the open house, it could be under contract.
  2. You don’t sell the house at the open house. From experience, I disagree with this.  However, he has 40 years in the business to my 10 so if he chooses to believe that, I agree to disagree.

When you have two real estate agents who have two different opinions on whether to hold an open house in St. Louis or no, what is the right answer?  I would say that an open house makes a lot of sense.  I don’t see the harm in having one.  The worst thing that happens is that the house doesn’t sell that day, and to me, that is a limited risk.  I’m willing to risk a Sunday afternoon to sell a house.

I would put out one caution:  If you are interviewing agents to list your home for sale in St. Louis, and they try to talk you out of having an open house, check the reasons against what I wrote.  It isn’t true that houses don’t sell, from my experience.  Real estate agents may counter with an open house only benefits the listing agent and my response to that would be, yes, it can benefit the agent but it can also help get your house sold.  Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.