Is doing an Open House worthwhile?

Open House

Do you really need an Open House?

As you may know, in terms of getting your home sold, I am not a big fan of open houses. I think they are old fashioned (out-of-date) marketing tools still in a Realtor’s bag, like a rusty old adjustable wrench or some masking tape left over from that last painting job so oh so many years ago. Like the painter’s tape, the perennial favourite – the Sunday Open House – is a little worse for wear, a little frayed around the edges, but still might have some value.

(Some, but not the value that many home sellers think.)

But lets go back in time

In the olden days, information travelled much more slowly and less completely. Back in old times, before the internet, open houses were useful for potential buyers to get a first look at a house. Now, most people’s first look is the listing on an MLS portal or

In the old days when real estate was mainly advertised through the local newspaper and new listings arrived weekdays at the brokerages on the “hot sheet” and was published weekly or monthly in an actual book, back then Open Houses were a great tool to get buyers in the door to show off a home. Generally, those newspaper advertisements and listing books included only one picture of the front of the house and just the basic facts about the home (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, maybe the square footage…that sort of thing). In order for buyers to get any real feel of the home they had visit in person. What better use of time for an agent than to get a bunch of buyers into a home during a weekend Open House.

Back to the future

Back to today, we have the internet, high definition photography, virtual tours, and lots of other factual information. Today, the first showing happens online. A potential buyer does not have to visit a home in person. The buyer does not have to visit an Open House. Marketing and shopping has gone online. The internet has made us all more efficient. But that doesn’t mean Open Houses are not useful.

2 good reasons to hold Open Houses

I was recently out with a colleague and we were talking about Open Houses. There are only two reasons we agreed to hold open houses.

  1. To demonstrate to the home seller that we are actually working. Most consumers have no idea how we spend out time. What better way to show that you care than to spend a couple of hours in their kitchen talking with strangers.
  2. To potentially meet some future buyer or seller clients. Those neighbours coming through your front door might be selling someday soon. Buyers may just be getting started and may not even know yet that they will be needing the help of a buyer’s agent.

Who comes to open houses?

Anyone and everyone can attend an Open House. They include but are not limited to:

1) Pre-approved, qualified and ready buyers

Whether or not they have an agent with them, this is the number one target group. These people are the seller’s reason for holding a  house open to the public.

2) Non-qualified buyers

These buyers are just getting started. They are just entering the market. Some will buy within your listing period. Most won’t.

3) Neighbours

Some are nosey and curious, others are getting ready to list their own home and are out doing a bit of ‘market research’. There is an outside chance that they could be buyers for your home or know someone (family member) who is.

4) Hobbyists, Lookie Lous and smalltime criminals

These folks have their own agendas that do not match up with yours or your Realtor’s. They are killing time, getting ideas or looking for something to steal.


Open houses are not a total waste of time. I actually enjoy doing them. I enjoy meeting the attendees and trying to figure out which group they fall into (and I have had every types of attendees including smalltime criminals).

All in all, I think holding Open Houses are expected by most home sellers but most Realtors don’t expect to sell the place through an Open House. It happens, just not often.

Should you do an open house?


Will it help you sell your house?

Almost certainly not. But not completely not so why not, eh?

I suppose it has become one of those cultural norms that we do in polite society. It is expected. It is part of the routine.

There is one positive thing that I’ve noticed about Open Houses. That is, sometimes (maybe once every two or three years)  a 1) Pre-approved, qualified and ready buyer wanders through with or without an agent and they end up buying the place.

It could be argued that in the absence of the Open House, they would have made an appointment to view the place. But who knows?

Call to Action

If you are looking for a Realtor to help you sell your Kitchener Waterloo home, please contact me for a free home evaluation. Although I keep my expectations low, I actually like doing open houses.

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1 Comment

  1. I totally agree with you on this point. There are more productive (and safer) ways to spend those two hours here in the 21st century.

    How about sitting down at the computer and crafting a great looking email to send to agents who are active in the area? It’s a better use of my advertising dollars to take out targeted Facebook ads to neighbors and buyers rather than buying cookies and lemonade.

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