One of the most exciting parts of the house-hunting process for buyers—and likely the most intimidating for sellers—is the open house. For buyers, getting the first glimpse of your future home can make the buying process all the more real; while for sellers, having prospective buyers touring your personal space can be a little off-putting, and may even have some wondering, what is the purpose of an open house?
What Is the Purpose of an Open House?
To answer that question, it’s important to understand exactly what happens during an open house. A seller typically spruces up the home to get it ready for visitors and then often vacates, allowing his or her agent to welcome prospective home buyers, who may come alone or with their own real estate agents. Potential buyers are often given free rein to walk from room to room, open closets, try kitchen appliances, and turn on and off faucets, getting up close and personal with the home they may soon call their own. They also usually have the opportunity to ask the seller’s agent any questions on their mind about the house—cosmetic problems they spot, how certain features work, or general questions about the neighborhood.
Do Open Houses Work?
Once a seller has answered what is the purpose of an open house, he or she may be prompted to question if they’re really effective. Especially in today’s digital age, many buyers first find their future homes online, where they can see plenty of pictures, before setting up a personalized appointment to tour the space. An open house, however, is a much lower-pressure environment for buyers, as they haven’t yet expressly stated formal interest in the property, an environment that may make them feel more secure as they explore. Many buyers also check out a series of open houses in the same area in one day, so if your property is in better shape and has more potential than some others on the local market, visitors to an open house may remember yours as a standout. Also, since an open house is, by nature, open to all members of the public, it also can show a prospective buyer how much interest there is in the house, which could prompt them to move more quickly with a bid.
Tips for an Open House
Before scheduling an open house, sellers should do a top-to-bottom deep cleaning of the entire property, taking care to dust and scrub even hard-to-spot areas like above the refrigerator or behind the toilet, as any dirt could be noticeable to visitors and may leave a poor impression. Declutter counters and shelves, and organize closets, as they may all be on view. Finally, remove personal effects like photos to help potential buyers better envision themselves in the home.
On the buyer side, bring along a notepad to jot down what you think of the house, especially if you’re stopping by several open houses in one day. Taking photos, if permitted, may also help you recall each house. Don’t be shy about opening closets or turning on sinks, as this is an opportunity to see how things work, what they look like and if you can see yourself living in the home.
An open house is a great opportunity for both sellers and buyers to take the next step in their homeowning journey.