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Ask Adam: Are Open Houses Crucial?

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: We are getting ready to list our house, but really don’t want a bunch of strangers and neighbors snooping around our house. Do you think open houses are necessary?

I’ve been to open houses where the home is packed with potential buyers. The buzz is amazing. It shows potential buyers how much interest there is in the home, which can raise the level of excitement and create a sense of competition that results in stronger offers.

Even during the days leading up to your open house, potential buyers may do what they can to try and persuade a seller to go under contract prior to the scheduled open house. Their offer may be extra strong because they fear the competition that may result from the open house traffic.

What I have described above are the best case scenarios. The reality is that you can create a hot listing without an open house, if the right marketing is in place. Most serious buyers are working with a real estate agent and are able to see the home at their convenience. They don’t need to work around the open house schedule.

A good portion of the traffic you get at open houses really is from neighbors and future buyers just starting the process of looking for a home. That’s why some real estate agents like to host as many open houses as possible. The neighbors provide a source of future listings. The future buyers provide a source of buyer clients.

You probably figured this out the hard way last time you signed-in at an open house, which resulted in a series of unsolicited calls and emails from the friendly agent who hosted the open house. Back when I started in real estate with one of the big firms, this is the first thing they taught us. We were provided scripts, processes and lots of encouragement.

Personally, I host open houses for three reasons.

  1. So that I can create extra buzz the first weekend on the market. It never hurts to pack the home and create an additional sense of urgency among buyers. I’ve found that potential buyers who have already seen the home earlier in the week, will come back without their agents to see how much interest there is in the home.
  2. It gives me a chance to personally talk about the unique features of the home. The more elaborate the home, the more important this is. For certain homes it is also important to host a brokers open house to educate the real estate community about the home.
  3. Because sellers want me to. If it is important to my client, then it is important to me and I am going to give it 100%.

Is an open house crucial to the sale of your home? Probably not. Can it help? Yes it can.

If you are going to forgo an open house, I suggest the following:

  • Be very flexible with the scheduled showings and make sure your home is in tip top shape for each visitor. I’m sure your agent can provide a list of tips that will make the home inviting. Saturday and Sunday will be busy, so you may want to make plans to be out of the house ahead of time.
  • Talk to your agent about adding a virtual tour or better yet, a video tour of the home.
  • Reconsider if the first weekend does not produce any offers. You may ask your agent to bring an assistant that can take turns providing tours of the home during the open house so that people are not left alone to wander.

Best of luck with your sale.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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