What is an Open House?

Open houses are still a fairly unfamiliar concept in the UK however in the United States this method of property selling is extremely popular. In fact, if you ever saw the film “I Love You, Man” it was how the two main characters met. The one guy liked to go to open houses for the free food and to network.

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Nevertheless, open house methods are growing in popularity in the UK, with many estates agents across England starting to employ the technique, and you may very well find yourself attending one in the near future, should you be interested in buying a property in the near future.

So, with that in mind, what is involved with the open house method for both buyers and sellers alike? What are the advantages and disadvantages involved in the process? We take a look at all the main aspects of the selling method so that you can consider whether or not it is the right choice for you

What is an open house?

Open house involves visiting a property, however, it is important that you organise visiting it beforehand by contacting the agent in question who is sorting it out.  For the people selling the property, they should make this a prerequisite wherever possible, specifying with their estate agents prior to holding an open house viewing. This means that you lessen the likelihood of some nosey neighbours with no interest in buying your property turning up as they just fancy having a look at your home and comparing kitchens. Opting for registration also means that you can get feedback from prospective buyers who visit too, which can be taken note of through the estate agents.

The way an open house might be used in these circumstances is for auction finance. Prior to attending the auction, the sellers may offer an open house so you can scope out the place and decide whether it is a worthy investment. This is a popular method in Australia, where viewers will have the opportunity to see the property for a few hours and this will be followed by an auction on site. Handing over the keys, there and then.

What are the benefits of an open house?

For buyers and sellers alike, there exist different benefits, including:

  • That open houses provide an excellent opportunity to generate interest in your property and a great way of spreading the word that your home is on sale.
  • Potential buyers also have the option to look at a property in a calm environment, without the pressure that some may feel is involved if having to organise an individual viewing with an estate agent, this may mean you incur more interest in your property overall, making it a win-win for both potential buyers and sellers.
  • Generally speaking, open houses are much more convenient for sellers. As sellers can attest to, getting a home ready for individual viewings can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to the time it takes to clean. With open houses, you have the option of getting on with your day-to-day tasks whilst viewers peruse the property.
  • As a seller, you may end up getting a better price for your home than if you had not chosen to hold an open house. Why? A sense of urgency can be created if there is a limited window as to when potential buyers can view a property, such as only for a two hour period, on a Saturday. This could create better competition as other buyers will be able to gauge the level of interest in the house.

Any disadvantages to open houses?

Open houses do not always work for more niche properties. However, if you have a house that is likely to have more of a mass appeal (family home, two or three bedroom house) then it could very well be the case that open house viewings could be for you.

Things to consider if you are holding an open house

Be absent

If you can possibly help it, try not to be present at an open house viewing. In fact, estate agents recommend for you not to be. Why? It tends to gauge more interest, as people feel they can view your house for longer and more openly, with more chance of them choosing to explore. If you are worried about questions not being answered do not worry, your estate agent will be on hand to help with any queries potential viewers may have.

Make your house feel like a home

It goes without saying that the house you are selling should be in its very best condition when it comes to holding an open house. Make sure it is tidy and clutter free, but it is also important to make sure that the property feels homely for prospective buyers too. First impressions really do matter, and if buyers can imagine themselves being able to live in the property they are more likely to make an offer. Things that could help include having fresh flowers around the house, photos, or even baking bread.

Consider strategies with your estate agent

Having a strategy as to how you want to hold the open house more often than not, tends to work better, and you are more likely to get what you want out of the viewing

Things to consider if you are deciding to view an open house

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Remember to be respectful when viewing an open house

  • Be polite – whilst it is important to see as much of the house as you can to get a feel for the place but…is rooting around the sellers’ drawers and every cupboard there is completely necessary in order for you to make a final decision as to whether you want to buy the property? We thought not. It may be an open house, but there is no need for manners to go flying out the window.
  • Bringing a tape measure could be worth doing if you are considering doing renovations to the house you are viewing.
  • To avoid any potential accidents, try and avoid if possible, bringing children to the open house. You shouldn’t let them climb on any furniture.
  • Try to prepare questions prior to going to an open house that you would like to have answered by the estate agent. It will take the pressure off when you are at the house, meaning you can fully take into consideration whether or not it will be the right property for you.
  • However, do keep in mind that you are not the only one who will be viewing the house during this time, and therefore take into consideration that it probably isn’t that fair to monopolise all of the estate agents time.