by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.
Just Say No to Open Houses
As I stated in a
post earlier this week, real estate brokers have a big difference in opinion about open houses, at least here in St. Augustine.
I’ve listened to people who have worked in other markets where 50 people may show up to an open house. But here in St. Augustine–at least for the decade I’ve been in business, including the mad rush of the real estate boom–open houses typically attract little to no traffic. This is not just me, this is everybody.
You know what? I’m done with the things. Here is why I hate open houses:
1. They are a waste of my agents’ time.
Statistically, only about 1%-2% of sales come from an open house. I’m not going to site the source but I’ve seen that number several times in both Realtor and business publications. Most agents sit an open house for 3 hours.
So for every hundred open houses, 300 agent hours are invested. For a maximum of two sales.
Three HUNDRED hours.
For TWO sales.
That’s 7.5 weeks per sale if you take into account an standard 40 hour work week.
Do you think an agent could generate more than 2 sales if they spent the 300 hours differently? I think playing solitaire on the computer for 300 hours might generate more sales…at least the agent could post online ads and respond to emails while playing.
2. My Agents’ Safety
I’m just not in love with an sales technique that essentially advertises to the public: “Empty home available from 2-5 with agent by herself.” Sorry, maybe it’s just the times we’re living in, but I think the open house has outlived it’s usefulness. Adding a second agent to make it safer is certainly an option, but doubling the man hours to 600 for 2 sales (see above) makes no business sense.
3. I Don’t Want to Be Your Friend
This is a bit more personal: pulling a sale out of an open house means making a connection with a potential buyer in about 15 seconds.
To quote the rock band Rush, “I just can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend.”
I probably do like you. You probably do like me. But we need some time to get to know each other, don’t we?
I could plant balloons around the house tied at the bottom with candy so your kids love me, I could try and make a connection with you based on where you’re from or what you do. And that’s okay for some Realtors because it’s natural and genuine. But not for me.
I just want to sell the house. If you like the house, I will help you buy it.
But if you don’t like the house, let’s talk a bit before we start working together.
4. I Don’t Like Being a Security Guard
An open house is an invitation to any and all strangers to come visit a property (see #2).
And I’ve had sellers dumb enough to leave prescription medications and guns out in plain view.
So, on occassion that people actually do show up to one of these open houses, I have to police the house before, during and after the showing. I have to worry about keeping a party of two people from splitting off—so that one of them isn’t sneaking through your underwear drawer or looking for your meds while the other is distracting me.
I can’t sell the house if I’m worried about looking after the property.
In a regular showing an agent at least knows his or her customers, they’ve spoken a few times and may even have been financially vetted.
But the open house turns the knowing on its head.
5. Two Exceptions: When I am in Favor of an Open House
When the property is a model home selling new construction I am in favor of an open house.
Why? Because in most cases you’re selling a home that hasn’t been built yet, and it’s easy to do. You are selling a dream, after all, and dreams sell.
When the house comes out of the ground, the customers are so anxious to get into it they overlook all the little warts and inconsistencies (that all homes have, by the way), and it’s so little stress.
When else do I favor an open house? When you have a re-sale home in a neighborhood full of new construction.
New construction draws a lot of buyer traffic. When you hold an open house in one of these neighborhoods the home you are sitting is on par with what the builder is selling. So you can poach the buyer traffic and promise quicker close because the home is ready to go.
If you would like to sell your home with us because we do it faster than the other guy (because we actually value 300 hours of agent time), just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !