Real Estate Facts and Opinions: Time to Close the Door on Open Houses

By Robert Pizzimenti

If I asked you to allow me to borrow your home, for no fee, so that I could set up a “branch office” to meet potential clients for myself would you permit me to do that?

Further, if I asked you permission to put signs in your neighborhood and attach balloons to your mailbox to draw attention to the fact that I was inside waiting to meet complete strangers, would that be an attractive offer? I think not.

Robert Pizzimenti
Robert Pizzimenti

So why do so many Realtors come to you with the suggestion to do just those very things?

The answer is at the same time both obvious and not so obvious; but either way it is a poor use of your property and resources.

Newer agents, and there are many of them every year, pick up the habit of open houses from older agents. In fact, many newer agents who do not have listings of their own to sell, volunteer to hold homes open as a means of meeting potential buyers.

Seasoned agents hold open houses for the same reasons, as well as to demonstrate to their clients that they are being “active.”

And, while it is true that occasionally a property sells as a result of holding it open to the public; even a broken clock is right twice a day. It is generally a poor return on your investment.

Open houses can also be dangerous for the Realtors, the property and the family. Criminals can “case” the property, leave doors or windows open, steal treasured items, cash or prescription drugs. A recent example of this was the arrest of an Ashburn man who stole more than $15,000 from area homes by pretending to be an interested buyer. Even well-meaning visitors can damage the premises.

I believe that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the practice of open houses to the public will be banned. That time cannot come soon enough.

Buying is a decision usually made emotionally and justified by logic. The Realtor’s job is to get qualified buyers excited about your offer. One way to do this is to get other Realtors excited first, so that their clients can feel their enthusiasm. The majority of buyers come from other Realtors. For that reason, an open house to agents (A Broker’s Open) makes more sense than an open house to the general public. It’s more productive and it’s a lot safer.

Next Time: What do Realtors actually do to sell your home?


[Robert Pizzimenti has been a licensed Realtor in Virginia since 1998 and is a member of the Professional Development Committee of The Virginia Association of Realtors, the Education Committee of The Dulles Area Association of Realtors, and one of two instructors certified by Virginia to teach Realtors The Certified Negotiation Expert designation course. He also owns and operates a sales training and business consulting firm called Achievement Concepts.]

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