Open House or Private Showing
When you are selling your home, you normally want to find a buyer quickly and get the best price. Your real estate agent will have some ideas and strategies to help you sell, and one of those will involve showing the home.
When it comes to finding a buyer, there are two options for showing your home; an open house and private showings.
While you might not think house showings make much of a difference when finding a buyer, they really can. If your real estate agent has offered to arrange an open house to sell your home, there are many things you need to consider before you agree.
If your home isn’t attracting many showings, an open house can look like a great opportunity to find a buyer. If your real estate agent suggests an open house, they might want to market themselves more than the home they are being paid to sell.
It’s understandable if you have some questions about using an open house or private showings to sell your home. We look at these methods of finding a buyer so that you can see which is better for you.
What is an Open House?
Having an open house allows anyone to walk around your home. While this could help you find a buyer, it potentially means many strangers entering your home. The real estate agent might take details from people visiting your home, but there’s no guarantee that they will give the correct information.
On the day of the open house, your real estate agent will be very busy answering questions and showing people around. This could mean they aren’t available to ensure everyone who enters gives information and signs in.
If only a few different people arrive at a similar time, it isn’t going to be possible for your agent to supervise everyone. Some of the people that visit might be nosy neighbors, but others could have worse intentions.
While you might have the idea that an open event is essential to selling your property, that is unlikely to be the case. Your real estate agent might have suggested it, but agreeing to this method of marketing has more disadvantages than you might imagine.
What are Private Showings?
A private showing involves a scheduled appointment where the buyer will be shown around your home by the Realtor. Typically, buyers who schedule appointments are more serious potential buyers than people attending open houses.
When a private showing is scheduled, you and your family will need to be somewhere else. This allows the buyer a better chance to imagine what living in the home would be like for them. They will also have the full attention of your real estate agent, making sure all of their questions are answered.
It also means that they can take their time, without having to worry about other people in the home. This should give the buyer more time to find out if the home is right for them.
Nosy neighbors aren’t going to schedule an appointment when they will need a preapproval letter, and you will generally get fewer time wasters with private showings.
An Open House Vs Private Showing
Before you decide which method you want to use to help find a buyer, it is better to know the positives and negatives of each approach.
The Pros and Cons of Open Houses
Whether you like the idea of an open house or not, there are things you need to know when considering this way of finding a buyer.
Pros for sellers
The added attention may help a qualified buyer find your home, and then make an offer. However, this isn’t very likely.
There are more benefits to the real estate agent than the buyer. Agents can use this publicity to market their services instead of selling the home. This can sometimes be the only reason a real estate agent recommends this option to sellers.
With the agent promoting their services to everybody who walks through the door, they could end up representing the buyer as well as the seller in the transaction. This is known as a dual agency, and it means double commissions for the agent involved. This might not be the best arrangement for either the buyer or seller, however, it mostly benefits the real estate agent.
How this helps buyers
When a buyer sees an open house advertised in a neighborhood they are interested in, they can visit the property without making an appointment. It is also a way for them to gain a better understanding of what is available before they’ve qualified for a home loan. When visiting the property, they don’t even need to give correct contact information if they don’t want to.
Cons for sellers
Though there is a low possibility of selling the home thanks to an open house event, it does happen sometimes. But without the open house, the buyer would most likely still have made an offer. If someone is interested in the house, they won’t be put off by having to make an appointment.
The majority of homebuyers check online listings to search for their next property. With that being the case, there don’t seem to be many benefits from having an open house and the extra attention it creates locally.
Instead of qualified buyers, you are more likely to find people visiting that don’t have financing ready. While someone might like your home, if they don’t have a preapproval letter from a lender, they might not be able to afford to buy.
On the other side, the negatives to buyers are minimal but could include getting unwanted attention from the real estate agent running the open house. Though, of course, giving false details avoids this issue. And even if they like the home, and don’t already have preapproval, the home could be sold by the time they are ready to buy.
The open house will also attract tire kickers, who have no intention of buying. Some of your neighbors might also take the chance to be nosy or to get ideas for changes to their own homes.
But things could be even worse, criminals could see your open house advertised.
Opening Your Home to Criminals
It is, unfortunately, possible that someone who visits your open house will have criminal intentions. The open house will be advertised in at least a few different places to attract more potential buyers, but it can also attract criminals.
While your real estate agent will do as much as they can to prevent you from being robbed, there is only so much they can do. Even if they have someone helping on the day, things can get busy, and people will be walking around your home unattended.
Even if the criminal is not bold enough to steal property during the open house, they can use it as an opportunity to plan a burglary. They can find out what you have that is worth stealing, its location, and the security measures in place. They could also make their job easier by unlocking windows or doors and deactivating security devices.
How to Avoid Being Robbed When Having an Open House
If you are certain that an open house is the right approach to selling your home, there are some precautions you should take.
Anything of value should be locked up in the home, or even better, stored somewhere else completely. If there doesn’t appear to be anything worth stealing, the criminal isn’t going to take the risk. There are certain items that should never be left out, which include things like medication, electronics and guns, to name a few.
When agreeing to an open house, ask your agent to make sure they have someone else helping them on the day. This should reduce the chance of people being alone in your home.
Take photographs in each room so that it is easier to see if anything has been moved or taken. Consider using security cameras, so that everyone who attends will be filmed. Though if you do this, you will need to tell the people attending that they are being recorded, something that could put off a few potential buyers.
Make sure to thoroughly check the home after the event. This includes making sure all the windows and doors are locked, and nothing is out of place.
The Pros and Cons of Private Showings
While there are problems with open houses, even private showings have some downsides.
Pros for sellers
With the buyer required to make an appointment, your agent can make sure they are qualified to buy. This will also remove most of the risks associated with an open house, like avoiding the chance of your possessions being stolen.
There is also a greater chance that potential buyers will give some feedback to the agent. This could give you some ideas for things that could be changed to improve how well your home sells.
How private showings affect buyers
For buyers, a private showing will give them the full attention of the real estate agent. This will allow questions to be asked and there is more opportunity for them to envisage themselves living in the home.
Buyers can also arrange to have the showing when it is convenient for them, rather than having to attend on a specific day. Many buyers like their agent to attend showings with them to provide their opinion, something that is less likely with an open house.
Cons for sellers
Private showings do mean more inconvenience. Since it is better to be out of the home during a showing, you will have to leave when it is convenient for the buyers. The buyer can’t just arrive without an appointment though, and they will be screened and have a preapproval letter from a lender. Though an appointment is necessary, it shouldn’t put them off if they are serious about the home.
If you have a family, this disruption can be quite an annoying problem that can happen multiple times before a buyer is found. Along with that, keeping children entertained for an hour or two, perhaps at inconvenient times, can add extra strain to an already difficult process.
The home will need to be kept looking its best for longer. To make the home more attractive to buyers, it needs to be clean and tidy without clutter. This could mean cleaning and decluttering much more frequently than you would otherwise.
Summing Up Open House vs Private Showings
Having an open house might seem like a good strategy to quickly find a buyer, but this method of marketing can backfire. Even if you attract a good number of people to your home, it is still unlikely to sell.
Open houses might have been a successful way of finding a buyer many years ago, but it isn’t the case nowadays. Today’s property listings have more information with better photos and videos, making it easier for buyers to find a home. And with more information available to everyone just seconds away, why would a buyer rely on an open house?
Quality is better than quantity when it comes to showing a home. It is far better to have qualified potential buyers shown around your home than to allow just anyone to walk in.
However, there might be some situations where an open house makes more sense. Perhaps the home isn’t getting the attention it deserves, and an open house can still find buyers. But if marketing the home isn’t going well, maybe the issue is the real estate agent or some other serious problem with the listing.
About the author: This article on “Open House or Home Showing: Which is Better?” was written by Luke Skar of MadisonMortgageGuys.com. As the Social Media Strategist, his role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generate new leads from his website.
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