Monday, August 18, 2008

Only the Lonely

When I am fortunate enough to list a client's home we always end up discussing the relative merits of Open Houses. Now, please understand that I have sat in more than one open house venue, fogging the windows with my breath, watching and waiting for attendees.

I generally tell my folks that there is a little sub-culture of people who go to open houses as a recreational activity. They get up on Sunday morning and get their cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and pull out the real estate section of the newspaper and start deciding how they will spend their Sunday afternoon. They run in little packs and attend open houses with no more intention of buying a house than they have of floating to the Bahamas on a Kon Tiki style raft.

When I was a green and newly-licensed agent I was encouraged to hold open houses, by my Broker. Why? Because it was a great way to connect with potential Buyers. I never was successful in that effort. The approach went: "Are you working with an agent?" " Are you aware that it costs you nothing to work with one? The Seller pays our commission." The answer would mostly be, something to the effect, that they already had an agent and were just trying to help her out by looking on their own.

I recently recieved a blanket e-mail from a prominent Tallahassee firm that was soliciting agents from other firms to sit at their open houses. Any Buyer who you write a contract for, you keep the commission. Any Buyer you convince to work with you, you have sole rights to. I can see in my mind's eye the load up on that program at the listing appointment. " Mr. and Mrs. Home Owner, our firm holds open houses weekly. We outwork our competition. We will sell your house." Then they farm out this useless expenditure of time in holding the open house.

I have NEVER written a contract on a home sale from an open house. The effort to hold these things is a bygone tactic that may have worked at one time but is useless here in the 21st century. Why? Because anyone with any cyber-savy at all can look at all the houses they want to in any city in America from the comfort of their home., Mostly anyone licensed to practice real estate has a website. On my website you can get a direct IDX feed from the MLS of any city in Florida. Why would you need to galump around town looking at houses burning your $4.00 per gallon gasoline when you can do it on your laptop?

I recently listed the home of a friend. He is a little older than my 62 yoa and has bought and sold several homes. I asked him about his feelings toward Open Houses. It was pretty positive. I advised them, in my opinion, they were a waste of his time. The only people who will come will be your neighbors who want to see how you decorate your home. I paid the $60 to run the ad, I provided the $100 worth of signs to lead the folks in and............................the only people who came were the neighbors.

I advise folks if they will let me slide on the open houses I will discount my commission. If you let me slide on advertising in our local paper, I will discount my commission. That advertising is expensive as well as useless. That is another post on another day.

Here is hoping that I do not have to spend a lot more of my precious time sitting, all lonely, at an open house while my seller goes out to eat and to a movie to abet the process. There are better ways for me to spend my money and time in your behalf, that will drive far better results.

Visit me on my website at

Roy Orbisong :

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