In the wake of yet another REALTOR® being attacked in an open house — this time in Virginia — I wanted to put my thoughts here for anyone thinking of selling their home and under the misconception that an open house is a good thing.

 

You’re thinking of selling your house. You’ve Googled “things I should ask when I interview REALTORS®” or “things my REALTOR® should do to market my home” as one of your first steps.

It’s likely that a number of websites or blog posts you find tell you that you should expect your REALTOR® to hold an open house to market your home or if a REALTOR® you interview says they don’t do open houses, you should move on and find someone who does.

NO. JUST NO.

We will not hold your home open…and here’s why:

FIRST, let’s talk about why open houses came into existence as a popular part of old-school real estate.

Back in the day — let’s call it, pre-World Wide Web — real estate listings were published in MLS books. The listing agent was almost always the only real estate agent involved in the transaction, meaning you would hire an agent to list your home, and that agent held the listing and any interested buyers would either find your home by walking into that agent’s real estate office to see what they had available or by driving around, seeing that real estate agent’s sign in your yard, stopping to write down the number (remember, we’re not only pre-Internet or pre-World Wide Web, we’re also pre-cell phone here!), go home, and call your agent (from their rotary telephone). I’m being dramatic, but this was a time even before the existence of buyer representation in real estate (Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z — this was a dark time, my friends; don’t even get me started on sub-agency…).

Open houses came about to attract buyers to homes that were for sale; those buyer who (a) might not want to walk into that real estate agent’s office, (b) might not stop to write down the phone number, (c) might drive by on a Sunday afternoon, while our for a Sunday drive (when stores and restaurants may not be open, depending on what part of the country you live in and Sunday drives were a part of our entertainment — yes, again, I’m being dramatic, but seriously!).

Back then, open houses may have sold the house.

Think about it. It was practically the only way a buyer was going to see the inside of your home — there was no internet, there were no virtual tours, there was no FaceTime or Zoom. Stopping by the open house meant being able to stop in, tour the house, talk to the agent (the only agent who would be involved in the transaction and who may have a lot of influence as to which buyer might “win” the home).

Flash forward to the age of the Internet.

First, let me tell you this: REALTORS®, as a whole, did not initially welcome the age of the Internet. The concern and sheer panic for what the Internet might do to the REALTOR®’s control over their business and the market was absolutely incredible to witness. (Sure, we love it now, but man alive, the agents who fought against their listings appearing online was…entertaining.) At first, our MLSs were, like most websites, elementary, cumbersome, bare-bones. But look how far we’ve come!

Open houses now are about one thing: the REALTOR® gaining new buyer clients — not a buyer for that home. 

With the exposure your home gets on the Internet these days, there is no need for an open house from a seller’s perspective. Sure, the buyer for your home may walk in to your open house, but your home sale does not depend on that open house. You know when else they can see your home?

By making an appointment to see your home with your listing agent…at a time that is most convenient to the buyer, not the scheduled open house time.

By calling their own agent and asking him or her to make an appointment to show them your home…at a time that is most convenient to the buyer, not the scheduled open house time.

Are you seeing a pattern here? A qualified buyer who is truly in the market to buy a home will call your agent or their agent and make an appointment to see your home — they do not need to come to an open house.

Most importantly, a prospective buyer can see your home from the comfort of their own home, in their pajamas, on their couch. Here’s how:

Every great listing agent makes all of their listings an open house — 24/7.

The sheer breadth of technology available to real estate agents — the very technology that Ben and I use to market every single one of our listings, in every price point — can truly replace the open house and allow every buyer to see your home, in full, any time, any day. From professional photography, to personally drawn and professionally rendered floorplans to 360-tours — today’s technology means that open houses are effectively obsolete.

Or they should be. And here’s why:

  • Open houses put the real estate agent in danger. Most real estate agents host open houses by themselves, alone in your home. There are really no mechanisms to qualify the people walking into your home — there’s no way to background check them, to pat them down for weapons, to know their motivations. In fact, the very concept of an open house is to get as many people in the door as possible. The real estate agent thinks: “every person who walks through the door today is a potential buyer and more clients (and more money!) for me!” Too many times — especially in recent years — have there been stories of the wrong person walking through the door: the person who ends up mugging, assaulting, kidnapping, or murdering the agent in the home. 
  • Open houses put the seller’s home and possessions in danger. When helping a seller prepare to list and sell their home, we give our clients a lot of instructions and tips — everything from staging to de-cluttering, cleaning to doing some routine maintenance. We also make sure to tell our clients what to put away, hide away, lock away: prescription medications, jewelry and other valuables, cash, guns and ammunition. During an open house, many people may be in your home at the same time, touring the home, going from room to room. The real estate agent onsite cannot possibly accompany or keep an eye on every one of them at every moment. Even if the people who come in don’t intend to cause bodily harm to the real estate agent, they may find something of yours that they like the look of; they may snoop in your closet and your cabinets and find what you think you’ve cleverly hidden (or forgotten to hide). It’s different than a routine, scheduled showing appointment that is scheduled for a qualified buyer to view the home with their REALTOR® — an open house is the general public, welcomed into your home, unaccompanied and set loose among your things. That doesn’t sound like something I want in my own home, and we don’t want it for yours.
  • Open houses can ultimately put you, the homeowner, in danger. Do you have a house key hanging on a hook next to your basement door or an extra set of keys hanging up in your mudroom? Do you keep a key hidden under a rock or a flower pot on your back deck or patio? Do you check your door and window locks religiously every night before you go to bed or every time you leave the house, in every single room on all levels of your home? Call me paranoid, but all of these scenarios present opportunities for someone who means to return to your home, when the open house has ended. 


Our goal is to sell your home, safely. Period.

Call us today at 404-994-2181 or email Ben(at)BuySellLiveAtlanta.com for more information on how to sell your home safely with us.

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.