Spring is just around the corner and open house signs will proliferate throughout the front lawns of Los Angeles’ South Bay communities. The rush to find a new nest is a rite of spring (although in Southern California the signs of spring are difficult to detect). Let it suffice to say open houses are a year-round staple in Los Angeles but with the advent of the Internet, virtual tours and a plethora of photographs, does the open house tool still belong in a Realtor’s (and seller’s) marketing toolkit?
My answer is a yes, but with reservations. My first concern is always the seller’s wishes. I recently had a client request no open houses. She could not bear the thought of a crowd of strangers traipsing through her abode, most with no serious intent to purchase it. On the other hand, if a seller wants a public open house it can be a useful means of spreading the word about a new listing. It can be especially helpful if the location, floor plan and grounds lend themselves to group gatherings. A tiny condo is probably best left to individual showings as a large crowd of people will only make the property feel smaller.
I believe a good marketing plan is to offer a broker open house for agents and their clients first. This first open house will permit agents to match the property to their clients. We often make a short video when visiting a home that meets a particular client’s wish list and send it along with the listing information and photos. After the initial broker open house the following weekend is a wonderful time to hold a public open house. Thereafter, if the property remains on the market I think it is advisable to hold an open house once a month until the property is sold if the homeowner is in agreement. New buyers are always entering the market and the occasional open house is an opportunity for them to see homes in their price range and neighborhood of choice.
The downside of open houses is they require the homeowner to leave the premises for several hours, and stow valuables in a safe. Unfortunately, at least once a year or so, we are notified about a theft at an open house. A team approach is the best way to avert such an incident and certainly helps with crowd control. Whenever we hold an open house Josh and I always work as a team. This allows us to give a guided tour of your home and better protect your valuables.
The most successful open houses are carefully orchestrated with prior advertising, the traditional signage and a professional real estate team ready to showcase the best features of your property to interested parties. It is not essential to the sale, but done right it can be a worthwhile and productive endeavor. Have I ever sold a property at an open house? Yes, but more often I receive a call from an agent saying a client viewed the home at my open house and is interested in writing an offer. That’s the desired result of an open house well held.