“In my experience, there is no correlation between houses we hold open a lot and houses we do not hold open at all and how fast or at what prices they ultimately sell for,” claims an unnamed real estate broker at zillow.com.

Then, there is real estate “scientist” Tim Ellis’ analysis of a study performed by a large real estate conglomerate. In San Francisco, he claims, “holding an open house is so expected there that homes that don’t hold an open house are a full seven percentage points less likely to sell than those that do.”

So, which is it? Do open houses help sell homes or are they a waste of time? Let’s take a look at both sides of the question.

Opposing Goals

Home sellers and their listing agents often hold opposing views on whether or not to hold an open house. The homeowner believes that holding the home open to the public exposes it to a broader pool of potential buyers.

The real estate agent, on the other hand, will typically hold an open house not only to lure in potential buyers but to attract more clients as well. In fact, skeptics of open houses will say that the real purpose of the guest register by the front door is part of the agent’s attempt to pick up new clients.

Then, there are others who claim that busy agents with lots of clients generally feel that open houses are a waste of time.

Personally I feel that in Northern Ohio they are almost always a waste of resources that could be used in giving a property added internet exposure and a better virtual tour experience for buyers, however one or two on the second or third week of a listing are sometimes worth the investment.  If they are “duds” then we move on to different marketing efforts.

The stats

A hunt for research into the effectiveness of the open house as a home sales tool highlights the lack of available information. The National Association of REALTORS® finds that 45 percent of buyers use the open house as an “information source,” but fails to mention the percentage of these folks who actually purchased the home.

The study that Ellis analyzed finds that geographic location has a lot to do with whether an open house will sell a home. As mentioned earlier, San Francisco homes that are held open are more likely to sell than those that don’t have an open house.

In Las Vegas, on the other hand, only 3 percent of homes are held open, so naturally, homes here are more likely to sell without an open house.

“Everywhere else, the picture gets a little more fuzzy. In the other eight markets we examined, there was virtually no difference in the percentage of homes that sold, whether they had an open house or not,” Ellis claims.

One additional finding is worth noting: Homes that are held open during the first week of the listing period are 13 percent more likely to sell than homes not held open at all.

Furthermore, the likelihood of a sale doubles if the agent skips the first week and holds an open house later during the listing period.  Curious neighbors are often the first in the door – and the last to buy!

Overall, this particular study shows that an open house is a must if you live in San Francisco and it’s a waste of time for Las Vegas homeowners. What about everywhere else? “It likely doesn’t really matter. . .” says Ellis.

The reality

Just as some hair stylists cut hair better than others and some lawyers are brilliant in front of a judge while others fall apart at the thought of it, some real estate agents are better at holding open houses than others.

In today’s Northern Ohio marketplace, open houses are moving out of the way for far more detailed property tour videos.  A home shopper can browse tours of multiple homes for a couple of hours, and then schedule personal showings rather than taking an entire day to visit open houses that often aren’t something that meets their needs.  A good virtual tour is the open house of today particularly for younger buyers.

Therefore, whether an open house “works” or not depends not only on the agent’s skill set, but on geography, seasonality and a host of other conditions.

Overall, it is effective marketing that sells a home and the most potent weapon in your marketing arsenal is your real estate agent. Whether or not he or she lists open houses in the marketing plan should have less to do with the agent’s effectiveness than their overall marketing chops.

If you are considering selling your Northern Ohio home, contact Lee today at 440-315-6000 to start the process.  Stage your home as much as possible with teams from Lee Hisey or his team, have them shoot the video, photos and drone photos and video and create the visual online package before it even hits the internet so you can hit the net running instead of crawling.  Then discuss holding one or two open houses to see if your neighborhood and community are open house friendly.  Many in Northern Ohio are not and turn-out can often be poor.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of agents are taught that open houses while generally a waste of time in selling a house are a way to obtain buyers to work with for future income.