Not that long ago, prospective home buyers would get out their Sunday papers, peruse the day’s open houses, and decide which ones seemed favorable and plan their afternoon. Today, home buyers are much more likely to hop on MLS, click through listings, see what houses grab their attention and go from there. It’s a new process. But do online listings really take the place of realtor-hosted open houses?
According to a 2011 report from the National Association of Realtors, 90 percent of home buyers search online for homes, while only half that number visit open houses. During the online hunting phase, buyers want to see virtual tours, the home’s layout, maps of where the homes are located, property taxes and school district data. They pare down the listings to the ones that are worth the effort of arranging a private showing.
However, hosting an open house does have its benefits. Hosting an initial open house for other realtors can still be a wise decision, because it allows other realtors to see if the home would be a good fit for any of their clients who are in the market for a new home. An open house can also be a great way to get critical feedback about what features of the home are appealing or off-putting. Neighbors will stop by, and those same neighbors may have friends who want to move to the area. Open houses can also serve as a great deadline for sellers to de-clutter and spruce up the home, both interior and exterior, or have the home staged.
So while the trends show more home viewing being done online, there are still valid reasons to host an open house—it’s just more likely to be infrequent and more focused.