Many REALTORS® place a lot of emphasis on having Open Houses as a necessary part of marketing your suite. It is one of the traditional methods of marketing that has become one of those “must do” items for many Sellers. There are two types of Opens that are targeted at completely separate groups. The first is the MLS® Open that is generally for REALTORS® only so that they can preview the property when it first comes on the market. The second is the public Open House that is usually held on Sundays during the hours of 2:00 to 4:00 pm.
One of the reasons why REALTOR® often stress the importance of having Opens is that they haven’t told the Seller the REAL reason why Opens are so important. It has very little to do with actually selling the suite that is being held Open! According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), your odds of having your suite sold at an Open are a paltry 7%. So with that low rate of success, what is the real reason behind having an Open? The simple answer is that the Open helps the REALTOR® pick up new buyer clients who they can then direct to other properties! Put another way, it isn’t about selling your suite; it’s a useful tool for your REALTOR® to find more clients.
Something else to consider for a Woodcroft owner is the very low response to Opens in the complex. For a single family home, the response in the last few years has been huge for a Sunday Open. It is not uncommon to hear reports of 20 or more groups going through in a two hour period. A similar number of REALTORS® attending the MLS® Open is also common. The situation with Woodcroft is completely different. A “good” Open is likely to average 4 groups! There are times when it drops to only 1 or 2 attendees. The MLS® Open has similar results.
Why are Opens so poorly attended in Woodcroft? The reason Opens work outside of the complex is spontaneity. People driving by see a sign, simply park their car and walk in. Opens in Woodcroft however, require planning and commitment. Since Fullerton Avenue is not a through street, people have to make a deliberate decision to go to the complex. They then have to tell security precisely where they are going and then find the Opens. Since the Woodcroft complex does not allow directional arrows to be placed on the common property, REALTORS® have to restrict themselves to a car topper sign. If someone coming into Woodcroft is not familiar with the complex, they can get confused as to where they need to go. In short, we haven’t made it easy for people to attend Opens in the Woodcroft complex.
The reason most REALTORS® don’t attend the MLS® opens has more to do with their area of market interest. If they are like most REALTORS® who consider condominiums as a necessary evil, they will not attend unless they have a specific buyer for Woodcroft. There is also the pervasive attitude in the industry that “if you’ve seen one condo you’ve seen them all”. Why attend to build up your market knowledge of condos when you’d rather view the new single family homes on tour? The advent of the 360 degree Virtual Tour has also made it less of a necessity. Using a Virtual Tour, most REALTORS® can get enough of a feel for your Woodcroft suite to make a decision whether it is right for a specific client.
The last item to consider about open houses for the public is the issue regarding security. When a REALTOR® brings a client to your suite for a viewing, there is a relationship between the two parties. They know their client’s name and contact information. The REALTOR® escorts the client through and watches what they do. They are in control of the situation. The likelihood of something going missing from your suite is very small. Contrast this to an Open where there is no control over who attends and when. There is NO relationship between the REALTOR® and the person attending the Open. While efforts are made to identify people they are often reluctant to give out their name and contact information. If several groups show up at the same time, the REALTOR® holding the open can be overwhelmed and not be able to watch everything that the attendees are doing. So far it is rare on the North Shore to have thefts from Opens but it can and does happen.
With all this in mind, do you really need to do Opens on your Woodcroft suite? Is it going to affect your final selling price or increase the time it takes to sell? The answer is NO! If the REALTOR® you are considering is adamant that they want to do them, especially on a frequent basis, you should be cautious. Look at their entire marketing system and ensure that the emphasis is on the more productive tools that actually bring results. Far more serious buyers will be viewing your suite through the MLS® system, a regular newsletter program and Internet marketing tools like the 360 degree Virtual Tour. There should not be an emphasis placed on Open Houses.
© Marc Haslam 2009