While its role has changed, the classic real estate "open house" still has a place in today’s home selling strategy. Buyers no longer spend all weekend visiting homes they saw in the Real Estate section of the paper. Instead, they are more apt to check out listings online and then set up private showings with the seller. According to the latest "Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers" survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nearly 9 out of 10 house hunters use the Internet to find properties. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Open House is obsolete. Realtors are just adjusting how they are used to help create awareness of new listings and sell homes the most efficiently.
A large percentage of buyers (88%) rely on agents to help them find the Home of their Dreams. For that reason it is important for agents to know about your listing. If it is right for their client, they will bring the buyer to you. So, experts recommend holding a Brokers’ Open, where agents from the local community are invited to check out the property in person and see if it would interest any of their current (or future) clients. In Chicago, brokers’ opens are generally held on Tuesdays and often include a light refreshment. Some listing agents throw in a gift card raffle or other enticement to get as many area realtors to the event as possible. Remember, 88% of buyers are working with agents, so it is an essential outlet to hit when trying to sell your Chicago home.
Even though the Internet is No. 1 when it comes to searching for homes, over half of buyers pound the pavement to look for properties as well. The NAR Buyers’ Profile found that 57% of those surveyed use yard signs to locate homes for sale—and 45% said they attend open houses. However, sellers should be strategic with their open house plans because a listing that is open to the public week after week after week can be perceived by watchful buyers as a home that isn’t selling because it must have something wrong with it. It’s better to space out open houses or host them as a special event—such as kicking off a new buyer incentive or announcing a price drop.
Holding frequent open houses where buyers can easily view your Chicago home without their agents present may not be as beneficial to you. They could be deterred from the listing by one little issue that a professional realtor would see potential in and know how to ease their buyers’ qualms, providing viable options for getting past the problem. Some experts suggest holding an open house the first or second Sunday following your property’s official listing. Then you can judge the initial interest in your home and decide with your Chicago listing agent when it is appropriate to have another one.
No matter how often you have an open house, it should always be advertised online. This can be as simple as including the open house date and time in the comments of your property submission to the Multiple Listings Service (MLS). Most Chicago real estate websites pull their listings from the MLS so the information will be disseminated automatically. If you have a yard sign in front of your home, attach a rider with the open house info to alert any passersby of the event. Keep in mind that house hunters make a habit of driving around neighborhoods where they want to live looking for new For Sale signs. This traffic may not hold a candle to online channels in terms of viewing numbers, but it brings in interested buyers all the same.