How important are open housesAre open houses important for getting a home to sell, or for getting it to sell at a higher price?

In Silicon Valley, only a small percentage of homes sell directly from an open house visit by a home buyer. Depending on whose statistics you believe, it’s somewhere in the 5% to 10% range. Some would argue for smaller figures than those.

The best home buyers, who are pre-approved and serious enough to be working with a real estate professional and have their own buyer’s agent, can come whenever it suits both their schedules and the home sellers. But that doesn’t mean that all of them do.  Some serious house hunting buyers may be out on their own, without their agent because they don’t want to “bother” him or her too much. I’ve had clients like that myself, and no matter how much I reassure them that I want to show them homes and prefer it, even, they want to mostly look on their own until they are either more serious or have found something they really love.  It is not uncommon for buyers to phone or email me that they’ve seen a house that they want to buy.  This seems to be a growing trend.

Knowing that the best Silicon Valley home buyers do have an agent, don’t necessarily need open houses, there are some who move from this thought to the idea that open houses are without significant value to the home sellers.  Some Realtors would assert that open houses only get neighbors and “Lookie Lous”, that they are only used by the agent to get new buyers and are a waste of everyone’s time. That’s an extreme position and I think it’s mistaken.

My sense is that it’s a mix. Open houses do not need to happen every weekend, but I do believe that open houses are a good idea when a listing is new in particular. A well attended open house can motivate buyers because they see a lot of interest in a home. If they only see the property with their agent, they may never get the impression that there’s any reason to hurry.  They could miss a buying opportunity and the sellers could miss a potential multiple offer opportunity. That’s where you really have the chance to sell for top dollar.

Finally, of course it depends on why and how an open house is done. While many agents do open houses primarily to get buyer clients, that’s not the case for everyone (not for me). Many of us utilize the open house opportunity to showcase the home, meet the neighbors and learn more about the area (neighbors often can fill us in on neighborhood history, such as who the builder was), and provide buyers an opportunity to see the home without feeling pressured. It can be great marketing, particularly if there’s a lot of traffic.

Sellers, open houses and impressionsIn my real estate practice, normally I will hold a listing open the first weekend and possibly the second but not every weekend (too many open houses can make a seller look desperate – too few can make the seller look unreasonable or difficult). When I see a house that is never held open, I wonder what the story is – does the seller object? Is the agent lazy? I do think that never holding a property open (not even once) most likely damages the ability to sell the home for top price since there’s that lack of synergy that can come from having an excited, interested bunch of buyers in the house all at once.

Of course, none of these marketing efforts can be effective in the least if the price is wrong. Before worrying about any marketing or advertising issues, if the home isn’t selling when it seems like it should, take a good hard look at the price and see if it is competitive.  That is the most important part of marketing: appropriate pricing to attract buyers. Make sure that your property is in good shape and that it’s reasonably easy for buyers to see it – too many restrictions and they will skip your home!

Buyers: if a home is never open and is hard to see, you will have less competition and most likely will be in a far stronger negotiating position than if similar real estate is very accessible.  But the red flag is that there may be a difficult situation behind the challenge in seeing the property – either the sellers or their agent may not be easy to work with.

Sellers: to maximize your net from the sale of your San Jose area house, condo or townhouse, there are a number of elements which all must line up.  These involve accessibility, pricing and staging as well as other marketing elements.  Remove any of them and your chances of selling (both at all and for top dollar) are diminished.

Thinking of selling your Santa Clara County home?

Book: "Get the best deal when selling your home in Silicon Valley"If you are a Los Gatos, San Jose or Santa Clara County home owner who’s thinking of selling, please contact me today for a free, no pressure consultation.  When we meet, I will give you a copy of my book on home selling with my compliments.

Alternatively, you can pull up the pdf of my 60 page booklet on preparing to sell your home online, without registration:
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  • Mary Pope-Handy

    Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.

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