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What Is An Open House? Here’s What You Need To Know


open house sign sitting on the sidewalk with blurry trees in background

At last, the U.S. housing crisis is starting to ease, with 19% more homes for sale in June, the fastest rate in the last five years. While this is great news for those in search of a new home, it’s not so promising if you’re selling your home.

Increased supply and waning demand mean your home could stay on the market a lot longer than you’d like it to. Nowadays, sellers need to pull out all the stops if they want to ensure a quick sale.

If you’re collaborating with a realtor, they’re likely to suggest having an open house event to attract more buyers. If you’re wondering, ”What is an open house and how will it benefit me?”, keep reading to find out more.  

What Does Open House Mean?

According to the open house definition, open houses are set periods when a home is open to viewing by potential buyers. They can drop by any time within the scheduled hours without making an appointment.

In the age of online marketing and virtual walkthroughs, it may seem like this is an obsolete and unnecessary way to market properties for sale.

Yet, some home buyers still prefer the personal touch when they start their home buying journey. Many others see it as a complementary step after choosing desirable properties online. 

Open house events allow buyers to explore homes more freely than they can during an individual showing in the presence of a realtor. 

What Is an Open House Good For?

According to the National Association of Realtors, around 4% of home buyers found their ideal home by attending an open house. 

If you’re a seller, an open house can expose you to these extra buyers when used in conjunction with conventional online marketing practices. It’s also a faster, more efficient way to expose your home to buyers than arranging individual home visits. 

Open houses also have important benefits for home buyers, especially if it’s their first time buying a home. 

Providing a Sneak Peek

Attending an open house is like shopping for clothes. You can ”try the home on for size” before committing to it. You can view every aspect of it in person, take measurements to ensure your furniture fits, and get a feel for your potential new neighborhood.

During an open house, you can walk around the home unhindered, explore how it fits in with your lifestyle, and essentially imagine yourself living there. 

Similarly, an open house shows the seller how many people express an interest in the home at its current price and can highlight any defects that put buyers off. 

No Commitment

Although many serious buyers attend an open house, it’s a commitment-free experience. You’re free to attend simply out of curiosity or to get a feel for the process.

It’s a good opportunity to chat with a real estate agent about any home-buying questions you have and can help you determine what kind of home you can expect to get for your budget.

There’s no pressurized sales pitch at an open house. 

Discover More About Buying a Home

First-time homebuyers can learn a lot about the home buying process when attending an open house, especially if they’re not serious about the home in question.

It’s frustrating to arrive home after attending an open house and realize you’ve neglected to check some aspect of the home, or haven’t got answers to all your questions.

Attending an open house gives you the practice you need to find your perfect home in a competitive market. It can also highlight what you don’t want in a home, so you’re better prepared for your future open house experiences. 

Drawbacks of an Open House for Sellers

It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to prepare your home for an open house, and you’ll have to leave your home while it’s in progress. Rarely, an open house can present a security risk and there’s a potential for theft if the event attracts many people. 

What’s Involved in Preparing for an Open House?

There are several home selling tips buyers should keep in mind when preparing for an open house. These include:Clean and Declutter

It’s important to make a good first impression when potential buyers visit your home. Remember, to remove any personal items, this makes it easier for visitors to imagine themselves living there.

Clean your home thoroughly the day before the open house and rearrange things to they appear logical and ordered.

A little landscaping goes a long way toward improving your home’s curb appeal. So, cut your lawn, trim the edges of flower beds, power wash walkways, and clean the outside of your house, these are the first things your guests will see. 

On the day of the showing, open some windows and blinds to maximize natural light and create a cheerful atmosphere inside. Studies show that sunlight has a positive effect on mood. 

Try some of these tips for enhancing the smell of your home:

  • Place fresh flowers in appropriate places
  • Use a diffuser packed with pleasant-smelling essential oils
  • Run a lemon through your garbage disposal 
  • Bake some bread or cookies before you leave for the day

Pleasant ambient scents can put people in a buying mood, according to marketing research.  Stage Your Home

You can hire a professional to stage your home or use some common sense tactics to increase its appeal.

Lay out your furniture in a way that helps visitors understand how they can use the room. Keep things understated, though, it’s likely your open house will attract buyers from all sorts of backgrounds.

Neutral colors and limited ornaments allow buyers’ imaginations free rein as they walk through interior spaces. Remember to place clean linen in neutral tones on all the beds, and fresh soap and clean towels in the bathroom. 

Staging your home effectively can attract higher offers.  Consider Repairs and Renovations

During the cleaning phase, pay attention to small details.

Clean dirty spots on your light fittings and wall plugs and patch up any chipped or peeling paint. Repair leaking or dripping taps, and replace any missing light bulbs. 

It’s vital to repair or replace any key functional aspects of your home, like a leaking roof or faulty HVAC, before opening your home to the public. 

Set up a budget for these cosmetic repairs and stick to it, as they won’t add much value to your home.  Serve Refreshments

You don’t need to serve refreshments during an open house event, but it’s a nice idea to offer potential buyers tea, coffee, and water. You can also offer cookies if you want to, and cocktails with hors d’oeuvres are an elegant touch for an evening event.  Market Your Open House

Get professional photographs taken of your home and use them in marketing materials for your open house. You can advertise the occasion on social media and local notice boards to attract more buyers.

A yard sign announcing the date and time of your open house is a final touch to attract passing traffic.  

Open House FAQs

Both buyers and sellers might face some apprehension about open houses and what’s expected during the process. To set your mind at ease, these are some of the most common questions buyers and sellers ask about an open house:

What Happens at an Open House?

An open house is an opportunity to show off a home to several potential buyers on the same day. Usually, the seller’s agent opens the home for a few hours and is on hand to answer any questions.

The homeowner doesn’t normally attend an open house. Prospective buyers can walk through the house, look around the garden and get a feel for what it’s like to live there. 

You will need to put down your name and some basic information on a sign-up sheet, but this is more for the owner’s peace of mind and security than it is for real estate marketing purposes. 

Can Anyone Go to an Open House?

Usually, anyone can attend an open house, except when it’s advertised as a broker open house. These occasions cater exclusively to brokers and buyers’ agents.

They provide an opportunity to educate members of the brokerage community about the home’s pros and cons and help put your property top of mind when they’re thinking of options for their clients. 

The more a real estate agent knows about a property, the easier it is for them to sell it. It’s also a good opportunity for your real estate agent to communicate reasons why buyers’ agents should promote your property to their clients. 

If you’re a curious passer-by, you can attend an open house, but let the agent in charge know that you’re just looking. Even nosy neighbors are welcome, as they can provide information that useful to the listing agent.

What Does Open House By Appointment Mean?

Some realtors and homeowners don’t have enough flexibility in their schedules to host an open house for hours at a time. In these cases, they request that potential buyers make an appointment to view the home.

Potential buyers contact the real estate agent to arrange a convenient time. This practice is common in complex buildings to avoid overcrowding in small common areas. 

When Is the Best Time For an Open House?

It’s usually best to host an open house after hours during off-peak times. You’ll get more foot traffic if people don’t need to take time off work, or when they’ve got chores to do.

For this reason, most realtors recommend opening your home to viewers on weekends or for an hour in the early afternoon, which can coincide with people’s lunch breaks. 

Sunday mornings or late afternoons are the best times to have an open house on weekends, as people are usually available at these times. 

Limiting each guest to 90 minutes gives them enough time to see what they need to see, deters time-wasters, and can create more interest.  

What Is Open House Etiquette?

There are a few unwritten rules, potential buyers should abide by when visiting a home for sale. These include:

  • Dress the part – smart, casual attire is best
  • No need to ring the doorbell, walk right in
  • Announce your arrival if there’s no one to welcome you
  • Wait for others to leave a room before entering
  • Don’t use the bathrooms
  • Don’t open drawers, cabinets, or the refrigerator

Most hosting agents will use the open house as an opportunity to pick up more clients, so let them know if you’re already working with a real estate agent, or take your realtor along with you. 

What Questions Should You Ask at an Open House?

As an interested buyer, you should try to get answers to as many of your questions as possible while attending an open house. Ask about the location of things, inquire about maintenance issues, and find out if the home has any ongoing problems.

It’s also a good time to ask how many other people have viewed the home and if the agent has received any offers to date. If you’re interested in buying the home, these questions help you gauge the competition  

What Should You Bring to an Open House?

It’s best to bring anything you think you may need to the open house. A tape measure, flashlight, camera, and even paint swatches can help you determine whether the home is a good match for you. 

A notepad and pen are a great idea for writing down the impressions you form during your visit, recording measurements, and making notes about the agent’s replies to your questions.  

Is an Open House Best For You?

Before hosting one of these events, it’s important to ask, “What is an open house going to do for me?”. Is it worth all the hassle, inconvenience, and expense, or would you rather sell your home in a quicker, less complicated way?

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If you answered yes to the latter part of that question, iBuyer has the ideal solution for you. Enter your address details on our website, and we’ll provide you with a cash offer as soon as possible and connect you with qualified, genuine buyers.

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