Is the Open House Dead?

open house image Is the Open House Dead?

I just put a condo that I own on the market this last week (see here).  I almost held an open house yesterday until I realized that I really don’t believe in them.  In fact, I have been taking a stance with many of my previous clients that they just don’t work like they use too. (with the exception of new construction sales)

It has been estimated that Open Houses account for 7-10% of all home sales.  In the condo world, that number is even less. I’ve always struggled with the idea of holding opens because I just don’t see the value anymore.  They use to be incredibly important because access to homes was limited.  In fact 20-25 years ago, real estate brokerages used printouts in a master “binder” of all listed homes.  Agents would flip through them page by page to determine what the best homes were to view.  Thus, open houses were important because it gave access to the public.

Now it is much more simple.  There is an unbelievable amount of access from online resources:

Windermere.com
John L Scott
ReMax
Keller Williams
NWG Real Estate
RedFin
Zillow

In addition, the surge of professional photography has added more pictures in high resolution.  There are virtual tours, videos and multiple online start-ups that are trying to bring homes to your living room computer.  In my own personal experience, most of my clients like to search for their favorites on their own.  After picking their top 5-10 homes we head out for a look and whittle down the prospects.  I present “good buys” and an analysis on the neighborhood, but its often difficult for me to pick the perfect home.  Engaging as a buyer is where the fun begins. I’ve talked to many owners that admit that their nights at home before buying was spent staying up late on the family lap-top searching for the perfect home.  Is this why the open house success rates continue to fall?

What is your opinion?  Do you feel that open houses are still a valuable resource?