Why Open Houses Help Sellers, Even in a Market With Low Inventory

The open house is a long-held home sale practice. But is it needed today, with a historically low supply of homes for sale, and buyers ready to pounce on new listings?
Well, probably not necessary, but certainly not a waste of time, either, say agents. In fact, open houses serve as a convenient focal point for corralling competing offers.
“I inform each prospective buyer that we currently have offers in hand and should they desire to make a bid, they must submit an offer by Monday at 5 p.m. (following the weekend open house),” says Enrique Huerta of HOM Sotheby’s International Realty, in Orange County, California.
An open house usually is held on the first weekend following the weekday that a home is officially listed.
The “best and final” call is only appropriate if a written offer – or offers – are already in hand before the open, advises Suzy Minken of Keller Williams Realty, Short Hills, New Jersey.
There is always the risk that “potential buyers choose not to make an offer simply because they don’t want to compete with other offers,” Minken explains.
Sellers usually want an open house, for a sense that their home is vigorously marketed, says Kelly Choate, Lakeside Property Shop, Shelby Township, Michigan. When a house fits the high-demand need in her area – three-bedroom ranches between $150,000 and $200,000 – offers tend to pour in with or without an open, Choate says.
It’s relatively easy for a seller to open his home for public viewing, since sometime during the week preceding it, sellers also have a “brokers’ open” and staging, cleaning and organizing is completed for that event, notes Jeff Miller, of AE Home Group, Baltimore.
The open house is a tradition because it’s so effective, Miller adds. “We find that many agents bring their buyers to see the home during open house hours.”
A listing agent “with comparable sales and a strong sales pitch … can sway buyers in this environment from being on the fence to falling in love,” Miller concludes.

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