Last week, we asked for your best responses to sellers when they say: “You don’t hold open houses? Why?” Readers shared how they overcome this objection, noting security risks, unlikelihood of attracting serious buyers and the arguable obsolescence of open houses.

Last week, Inman surveyed readers for their best responses to sellers when they say: “You don’t hold open houses? Why?”

Even if an agent’s MO is to skip open houses, they can still, of course, make exceptions, should their customers express a clear preference for open houses. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that they would take this tack if asked. But other respondents offered a variety of ways for defending a marketing strategy that excludes open houses, including pointing out the security risk that open houses can pose, as well as their tendency to yield lookyloos, rather than highly qualified buyers.

Here are some of our favorite recommended responses to this common objection. As always, be sure to only use those that fit the situation at hand and align with your values.

Note the security risk

  • Open house showings rarely benefit the seller or sell the house, and they often increase seller risk by allowing multiple unaccompanied buyers in the home at a time. I can’t be everywhere at once, so those unaccompanied buyers have access to your spaces and items that I’m not comfortable with. In addition, buyers who attend open houses are typically unprepared to commit to a purchase. Interested, prepared buyers will call their agent to schedule a private showing, or they’ll call me to arrange a showing. Truly interested buyers will make time to see the house, and private showings will host accompanied buyers instead of letting people wander the house unsupervised.
  • In this climate, it is very risky to have strangers in mass wandering around your home. We cannot staff the home with enough people to adequately watch them and do our job. It’s also dangerous for the agent to open an empty house and invite strangers in. Serious buyers have gone to a lender, have professional representation and will make an appointment.
  • I don’t hold open houses because it’s about the balance of risk and reward. The public open house is the time you’re most vulnerable to theft. That’s a risk. But it’s very unlikely that the buyer of your home is going to find it by attending an open house. That’s the reward.

Truly qualified buyers rarely go to open houses

  • We want to make sure that the people who walk through your home are legitimate pre-approved buyers, not just looky-loos who want to see what kind of stuff you have. When buyers are accompanied by agent, they walk through the home together and in that way, we can assure that your space is more respected and secure.
  • Nice for curious neighbors, but they simply are ineffective.
  • Most open house goers are not yet ready to buy. They are just starting their search so they might not be in a position to buy your house in a time frame that meets your needs. Serious buyers are pre-qualified and will schedule an appointment when the time is right for them (not necessarily on Sunday between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.).
  • I prefer that people who come through your home do so after having been vetted by a Realtor who accessed our lockbox, so that we have actual contact information for a follow-up. (This reader adds: “I usually explain the tremendous importance of removing anything of financial or sentimental value from the home.”)
  • For the same reason I don’t buy lottery tickets. The odds are not in our favor. Buyers should be qualified to buy before they view your property.

The internet made them obsolete

  • I find that open houses nowadays serve as tools for agents to get buyers at the expense of strangers in your home. With the internet, scheduling private appointments has never been easier. If they’re serious, they’ll need attention.
  • I explain to my sellers that open houses were a great way for a potential buyer to see a home prior to contacting a buyer’s agent before the consumer could view videos, 3-D tours and photos of a listing online without ever leaving the comfort of their home or smart phone. It has been my experience in our market that open houses are often attended by curious neighbors and those who just enjoy seeing homes for fun. In the modern age there is also the aspect of safety for the homeowners and the agent who is conducting the open house, often alone. Truthfully, I don’t always succeed. If a seller is adamant, I will acquiesce but prepare them for the standard turnout in our market, which is one to two groups of “buyers” coming through.

Recommend a game plan

  • Let the sellers know it is their choice whether we have an open house or not. The most showing activity from serious and qualified buyers and their agents occurs the first weekend on market. I will reach out to reverse prospect/market the property to local agents with buyers in the area. However, when neighbors and the general public attend an open it can cause a sense of urgency for a qualified buyer who might be there. I do provide a list of security steps the seller must take prior to an open house and try to have a second agent onsite for additional security in occupied homes. About 50 percent of occupying sellers decide not to have an open house or to wait at least one week before scheduling. Oftentimes, we are under contract by then. My responsibility is to act in the interest of the seller and so I am willing to hold an open house if they desire. I do also meet the neighbors and buyers without agents and then add them to my data base for monthly newsletters for future prospecting.

Well, sure, if you want to help me get more business for myself

  • It will provide me with buyer leads. Wouldn’t you rather me focus on selling your house?

Editor’s note: These responses were mostly given anonymously and therefore are not attributed to anyone specifically. Responses were also edited for grammar and clarity. Inman doesn’t endorse any specific method, and regulations may vary from state to state. 

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