6 mins read

What is an open house?

If you’re a home seller you might use an ‘open house’ to help try and sell your property quickly. The idea is that you specify a set period of time (usually a few hours) when prospective buyers can come and look at your home.

There are two main ways of hosting an open house. You can either:

  • Allow anyone to come and take a look during a set period of time
  • Book in back-to-back appointments with prospective buyers

How does an open house work?

To host an open house, you can either advertise a set time when anyone can visit your home, or you can book in lots of appointments with potential buyers within a short time frame. Either way an open house means having lots of people coming to visit your home all on the same day.

This technique is popular with some estate agents because it’s a way to drum up competition and excitement around a home. The hope is that by seeing lots of other people viewing your home, interested viewers will be more likely to put in an offer.

Psychologically, just seeing lots of other interested buyers can encourage people to offer a higher amount than they would have otherwise, because they don’t want to miss out.

Hosting an open house also means you don’t have to deal with the hassle of doing viewings over a prolonged period of time. An open house event is your chance to impress lots of buyers all at once. The burden of having to prepare your property for viewings, and answer lots of questions, will be limited to a single, short period of time.

Can anyone go to an open house?

It’s up to you and your estate agent whether you allow people to just turn up to your open house on the day. Generally an estate agent will suggest booking in a few people, but will make arrangements for the possibility of ‘walk-ins’ too.

If you decide you’d like to accept ‘walk-in’ viewings on the day, make sure you discuss with your estate agent how these will be handled. You might want to ask the following questions:

  • What information will the estate agent gather from walk-in viewers?

It’s important that your agent vets any strangers that want to view your property. You want to make sure that you’re only spending time marketing your property to people who are actually serious about buying. There’s also the security risk of allowing strangers to come into your property. Having some preliminary checks in place, and information on record, can help to mitigate this risk.

  • How will they handle multiple viewings at once?

Will there be more than one agent on site to help out, or will you have to take on some of the responsibility for showing buyers round?

  • How will they make sure that your property and belongings remain secure for the duration of the open house?

A good estate agent will have procedures in place for dealing with security during an open house event. However, if you’re concerned, you could stay in the house whilst the event is going on. Not only will this help provide you with peace of mind, you can also be on hand to answer any questions.

Do open houses work?

Open houses work better in some parts of the UK than others. As a general rule the outcome is better in cities, or areas that are in high demand, because you’re more likely to get lots of buyers interested in the event.

The more potential buyers turn up, the greater the sense of competition and urgency you’ll create for your property. You want buyers to feel the fear that they might miss out, because other people are interested. This will encourage more people to offer and for a higher amount than that might have otherwise.

In contrast, if only a couple of people come to your open house, it will create the impression that not many buyers are interested in the property. This can encourage buyers to offer much lower than the asking price, or put people off your house altogether.

Before you decide whether hosting an open house is the right decision for you, talk it through with your estate agent. They should understand the pros and cons of hosting open houses in your area.

Hopefully, they’ll also have previous experience to draw on. Ask them to talk you through the outcome of their previous events. Get the specifics on the number of viewings and offers they were able to generate.

The best agents will know the local market in detail, and whether your target audience would respond well to an open house, or whether it would be better to conduct individual viewings.

If you haven’t yet settled on an estate agent, this comparison tool can help. Just pop in your postcode and it’ll show you which agents are the top-performers in your area. Try it for free now.

Tips for hosting a successful open house

If you’ve decided to try hosting an open house to sell your property, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the best possible outcome:

  • Pick the right time

When you host your open house can be the difference between a great or a terrible turn out. There’s no point hosting your open house when most people are going to be at work. Stick to evenings and weekends to ensure you attract the most people. Saturday between 10am and 2pm is generally considered the ‘golden window’ for open houses.

  • Marketing

Promoting your open house is absolutely vital to making sure that it’s a success. You need to book in as many appointments as possible to ensure buyers see how in demand your property is.

Your estate agent should take the lead. Expect them to advertise on their website and the major online portals as an absolute minimum. Local estate agents will have the edge. They’ll be able to get in touch with potential buyers who have registered with their agency, and use their contacts within the community to drum up interest in the event. Your estate agent’s marketing skills will be critical to the success of the day.

Check out which estate agents have the best record in your area, with a free, comparison tool. Head there now.

  • Start prepping early

An open house is your opportunity to show off your property to lots of people at once, so it’s vital that your property is looking it’s absolute best. The more you can do, the better.

Start with the basics: decluttering, and any minor DIY fixes. It’s amazing how much a clean house and a fresh coat of paint can boost a property’s appeal.

On the other hand, if there are things that have been left unfixed - like a leaking tap, or cracked floorboard - you may put buyers off, as they imagine what other more difficult work the property needs.

Unsure where to start with preparing your home? Try this quick home audit.