Open houses in TorontoReal estate agents have long debated the value of open houses. Do they work? Are open houses worth an agent’s time? I have some pretty strong beliefs about the importance of an open house to an overall marketing campaign to sell my client’s homes. My thoughts:

If your agent says open houses don’t work, well, he’s wrong and you should consider looking for another agent. Statistically, six percent of houses actually sell to people who attended an open house – and to be frank, our stats are a lot higher. While 6% isn’t a huge number, we’ve recently had 2 cases where Buyers attended our open houses, spoke with us about the home and came in with excellent offers (using their own real estate agent.). Point is: our job is to sell your house and we want every opportunity to do that. We want to expose it to as many people as possible, and want the opportunity to tell anyone – even those using other agents – how great your home is.

Make sure your agent is actually trying to sell your house, not just any house. Unfortunately, many agents see open houses as an opportunity to find buyers who don’t have agents. In fact, I’ve seen agents who have actual print-outs of competitive listings, and are trying to sell those to the people who’ve come to see your home. Not cool.

Make sure the agent hosting your open house knows your house or condo. Nothing worse than when the listing agent sends someone from their office who doesn’t know the property or neighbourhood they are supposed to be selling. Insist on having someone who is familiar with your home host the open house so they can answer all the buyers’ questions.

Your agent needs to advertise the open house to bring in traffic. Signs on the street will mostly just bring in curious neighbours. Make sure your agent is advertising your open house on Google, Craigslist, Kijiji, with Facebook ads, etc.

Make sure your house is ready – floors washed, beds made, litter box cleaned. No excuses, this is your opportunity to shine. And no, as the agent hosting your open house, I don’t want to wash your floors for you, though I have, and I will. It’s really that important.

Put away your valuables and anything you don’t want people to see. Curious buyers will open your kitchen cupboards and your closets and unfortunately, it’s often not possible for us to be physically present with every person during their entire visit. Lock up valuables – or better yet, take them out of the house entirely.

Leave the house. I say this because sadly, it is apparently not obvious to all Sellers. Nobody wants to go through your house when you’re there. And don’t forget to take Fido with you.

The most important open house is the first weekend you list your home. If you’ve been on the market for weeks or months, most ready buyers will have already come by. But that first weekend is critical.

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