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Should You Hold an Open House When Selling Your Home?

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Can an open house translate into more money in your pocket when you sell your home? It depends on who you ask.

Data from real estate brokers show that an open house can bump your home’s sticker price and shorten the time it’s on the market — but not everyone thinks an open house is worth the time. If you’re not in a highly competitive market, an open house isn’t going to be much help.

Below, we explore how you can decide whether it makes sense to hold an open house when selling your home, and whether an open house can help boost your profit.

We’ll cover:

Do you need an open house?

Open houses provide a set time frame for multiple buyers to walk through the house simultaneously rather than having to schedule individual appointments for showings. Some home sellers may choose to host open house showings as part of their strategy to find prospective buyers.

However, there are pros and cons to using this strategy as part of your plan to sell your home.

Benefits and drawbacks of an open house

One potential benefit of an open house is that your home may sell for more than the asking price and spend less time on the market.

Recent research shows that homes with open houses sell for about $9,000 more than their listing price and are on the market for seven days less than homes that don’t hold open houses, according to real estate brokerage Redfin.

This positive effect varies by metropolitan area, and could have more to do with the way the homes are marketed and their desirability than the open houses themselves, Redfin’s report said.

“Holding an open house is an efficient way for sellers to get more eyes on a home, and a bigger pool of potential buyers can help lead to a higher ultimate sale price,” said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, in a recent statement.

But that effect isn’t felt equally everywhere in the country. Mindy Jensen, a Colorado-based real estate agent, said she believes that open houses aren’t all that beneficial to home sellers unless you’re in an extremely competitive housing market with a low inventory of homes for sale and a higher chance of bidding wars, like San Francisco.

“For your regular, ‘Joe Blow’ seller, it’s not a selling tool,” said Jensen, who is also the community manager for BiggerPockets.com, an online resource for real estate investing.

In some cases, an open house can serve more as a marketing strategy for real estate agents than for their clients, as agents can meet future buyer clients, Jensen explained. This can potentially be a drawback for home sellers looking to get their home sold more quickly.

Tips for hosting an effective open house

Should you decide to hold an open house, or even anticipate frequent showings of your home, consider the following tips to help get your home sold.

Be sure you and your agent are on the same page

It’s important that you shop around with multiple real estate agents before you select your listing agent. But once you’ve chosen who you’ll work with, be sure you’re on the same page about the plan for selling your home.

Confirm details including your agent’s commission, how they will market your home to ensure it’s visible to as many buyers as possible and what listing price would work for your home.

Get your home in a saleable condition

Are there walls that need a paint job? Could your carpet stand a cleaning? What about that unfinished bathroom remodel?

It would work in your favor to tidy up your home and wrap up any outstanding maintenance work before you list your home for sale. You want your property to attract multiple buyers, not turn them off.

If you were planning on undergoing more extensive renovations, be sure to check with your agent before making additional upgrades with the intention of getting a quicker sale.

To save yourself from experiencing delays later in the home-selling process, consider purchasing a home inspection for a thorough understanding of what should be addressed.  Home inspections typically range from $300 to $500.

Consider home staging

Staging your home can also appeal to prospective buyers and help you get it sold. Making the effort to stage can be as involved as you’d like, but keep in mind it can be costly. The national average for home staging costs is $979, but many homeowners shell out between $344 and $1,613, according to HomeAdvisor.

Tasks for home staging might include:

  • Decluttering the rooms throughout your home.
  • Giving your home a deep cleaning.
  • Updating your fixtures and light bulbs.
  • Removing personal items, such as family photos and mementos.
  • Trimming your yard and placing welcoming items near your exterior entryway, such as potted plants.

Open house alternatives

Jensen said the best way to sell your house is by having your real estate agent list it on a Multiple Listing Service platform, which is a database that compiles information about homes for sale by local real estate agents. The listing service may also send out the listing to popular third-party real estate sites.

If you’d rather not have a ton of foot traffic, consider focusing your attention on giving your home more of an online presence.

One available option is creating a website dedicated to interested homebuyers.

“I have seen a lot of people buying up a domain name like ‘123MainStreet,’ whatever their address is, and then putting up pictures and information about their home,” Jensen said.

The idea is to share as much information about your home as possible to help them make an informed decision as a buyer, she added.

You’ll want to give buyers an accurate view of your home, which means you’ll need plenty of photos, Jensen said. Try taking the photos yourself, or hire a photographer if that’s not your strong suit.

“Take a picture of everything,” she said. “Take a picture of every room, the outside from multiple different angles and put it up on a website.” Purchasing a domain and hosting service is a low-cost way to disseminate information to a wide audience of people for the brief time frame it can take to sell your house, she added.

Creating a virtual tour is another option to show your home. Jensen said a whole industry has developed around the concept, but the service can be pricey — ranging from about $350 to $500.

The bottom line

Selling your home takes some legwork, but with the right agent and plan, you can walk away from the experience with a favorable outcome.

When it comes to holding an open house, though, it’s up to you to decide whether it makes sense for your home.

Whatever you decide, just remember to refrain from being greedy over your listing price.

“When the house next door that looks just like (yours) just sold for $250,000, pricing your home at $300,000 is probably not the best choice,” Jensen said.

Work with your agent on identifying comparables in your neighborhood to be sure your home is priced to sell.

“Shooting for the stars can really, really shoot yourself in the foot,” she said.


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