I hosted an open house on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and the open house was in a good location to attract passers-by. We had ten couples who visited that day.
As the sellers returned home, I told them we had good traffic but not sure any were legitimate buyers. They suggested we have an open house every week because they are getting more buyers through the house in two hours than they do all week. Just because these people attended the open house doesn't mean they are actual buyers.
Sellers often think that visitors attending an open house are interested in buying their house right now and have chosen to view it through an open house rather than contacting an agent. This is rarely the case. As a matter of fact, in the eight years I've been selling real estate, only one open house visitor actually purchased the home. He didn't do that until 30 days later.
The majority of the attendees may be interested in buying a home sometime in the future but may not have the ability to buy right now. Or this house may not even meet any of their criteria. This is exactly why I don't advise sellers have an open house. Many visitors may be six months or more away from buying. Case in point, here is what I learned upon contacting these supposed buyers:
- Three couples stopped in because they saw the sign--Looky-lous. They don't plan to buy at all.
- One couple lives in the neighborhood. They are listing their house soon and were measuring up the competition.
- Two other couples won't be in the market for two or more years.
- One couple is looking for a home priced less than $417K dollars. This home is priced at $499,900.
- Two other couples are interested in buying within the next six months. They both own homes that aren't even on the market yet. They aren't interested in selling their homes before next Spring.
- One agent arrived with his client. We had spoken earlier in the day. He was out showing this couple several properties and added us to the list.
The seller viewed these ten couples as ready, willing and able buyers. They were not. Unfortunately, the people who often come through an open house aren't necessarily in the market to buy right now or may not have the financial wherewithal to buy now.
When buyers are working with an agent, they are usually within three months or less of actually making a purchase. In most cases, the agents have already vetted the buyers. They know they have the ability to financially purchase the home they are viewing. They also know the house meets some of the buyer's criteria. Open house visitors haven't been subjected to that scrutiny. It's very possible the attendees aren't even qualified to buy your home.
Interestingly, the only immediate buyer who visited the open house was brought there by his agent.
I try to explain to sellers there are better ways to get legitimate buyers to view their home. Targeted marketing directing buyers to features in the home will yield better results. They see so many agents offering open houses, they think there must be a benefit.
The truth is the real benefit is to these agents. While open houses don't usually present an immediate buyer for the house they are holding open, they can be a gold mine for future business. As was the case on Sunday. Five of the ten couples who came through the house are looking to buy sometime in the future. These buyers don't currently have an agent. Good follow-up with these buyers could lead to future sales.
If buyers aren't coming through your home during the week, it's more likely related to price or condition. Talk with your agent about the best way to get your home in front of buyers who are currently in the market. You'll be much happier with the results.
Are open house visitors legitimate home buyers? Maybe sometime in the future but probably not now.