There was a time, ten or fifteen years ago, when I became convinced traditional open houses were a thing of the past.  Turnouts were diminishing. Traffic was becoming a motley collection of looky-loos, nosey-neighbors. tire-kickers and random passers-by. Drawn like moths to the corner signs and a chance to peek behind the scenes of someone else’s home and life.

I was almost ready to mothball my open house signs. Ditch the cookies. And hold the presses on all those glossy flyers I was printing at the expense of all those trees.

At best, open houses seemed more like tools for younger agents to meet occasional living, breathing buyers. Or to humor sellers into thinking their listings were attracting the right audience (not just lookey-loos and tire kickers!) At worst, they were a way to pitch future listing services to all those nosey-neighbors.  None of it was really about selling the actual houses.

But I take it all back now. The advent of the low inventory market has changed everything. Open houses have once again become a crucial part of the home selling process.   Anyone who doesn’t do them hurts their chances to get the best results.

Here’s my thinking:

  • Every new listing is digitized and instantly downloaded to a waiting marketplace these days. A shotgun approach to marketing is no longer necessary.  The right audience is already waiting for the details.
  • In the old days, marketing a house took two or three months to unfold. These days: two or three days.
  • Most buyers come from outside the county. Traditional move-up buyers who fueled past markets are missing from the equation.
  • People from elsewhere don’t drive over to Santa Cruz during the week to see new listings.  Given daily traffic congestion on both sides of the hill – they can’t.
  • Most buyers reserve weekends to see new listings as they come on. They prefer to schedule their own time, drive their own cars and see things at their own pace.
  • In a multiple-offer marketplace, the goal for sellers is: generate the most showings in the shortest period of time after their house goes on the market.  
  • Open Houses act as effective funnels to collect, concentrate and clarify market interest incredibly quickly. Usually the first weekend after a listing goes on.
  • For Sellers, there’s nothing better than having swarms of Buyers all eyeballing each other at the same time, trying to size up all the competition. That’s what motivates Buyers to write offers quickly and competitively.

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