Los Angeles real estate agent Liz Johnson loves open houses, but not because they move her properties. The real reason Johnson holds them is because they bring her more business. Prospective home buyers walk through and ask what other listings she has. “They’ve always been better for agents than sellers,” she says.
The proliferation of Internet listings and other online real estate information is quickly making open houses more of an option, rather than a requirement for selling a home. In 1995, just 2% of home buyers used the Internet to look for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. Last year, 77% of home buyers shopped online.
Indeed, only 2% to 4% of Johnson’s listings sell from open houses. “It’s not a necessity,” she says.
There are times, says broker Greg Meer, Sr. of Keller Williams Realty in Las Vegas, when an open house is not practical at all, such as if a house is off the beaten path, or in a gated community.
Agents, sellers question effectiveness
For the most part, Johnson, an agent with Dilbeck Realtors and a 25-year veteran of the real estate business, doesn’t hold open houses for her listings unless sellers press the issue. Most of her sales come from her contacts with other agents and from the multiple listing service, she says.
Many agents now refuse to hold open houses, considering them a waste of time and a security threat. And many sellers now prefer to open their doors to serious buyers only.
“They’re not effective,” says Daniel Fellars, a 29-year-old software engineer from the San Diego suburb of San Marcos, Calif., who put his four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home on the market last year. A series of open houses did little to move Fellars’ previous house. “We had an open house five weeks in a row and never got a single person to come to our house,” he says. Continue reading