The Internet Age Open House: Has it Become Irrelevant?

In the old days, sellers could rely on open houses to give their properties wide exposure to potential buyers.

But now, thanks to the Internet, the traditional open house is starting to feel old hat.

The vast majority of buyers now dip their toes into the housing market online. They can easily narrow their choices through websites with vast databases of local properties for sale.

From there, most buyers turn to real estate agents with the expertise, local knowledge, and access to statistics, to hone in on a few special properties. They might attend an open house, but most prefer individual tours from their agents.

Meanwhile, sellers hope for the kind of response to their open houses that their parents might have received. They’re usually disappointed.

These days, sellers are under competitive pressure to stage their properties before open houses. What began as a way to differentiate one property from the rest is now almost mandatory in some neighborhoods. The cost: upwards of $2,000.

For pictures, videos, and personal tours of your home, staging may pay off in faster sales and higher asking prices, but don’t count on the staged open house to generate offers. These days, you’ll get more browsers than qualified buyers.

And don’t hold multiple open houses. Hosting several open houses says “desperation” to buyers and may encourage lowball offers. Hold one if you wish, and if your agent recommends it. But don’t expect it to be your parent’s open house.

How to Handle Multiple Offer Situations

When selling your home, having more than one offer to consider is a great position to be in. However, there are some rules of thumb for handling the sale of your property in a multiple-offer situation.

The most important is to evaluate every offer for its details – not just the price. Study all conditions and investigate thoroughly the strength of each offer. Just because the buyer has agreed to pay a certain amount for your home doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is capable of bringing about a successful closing.

Evaluate their pre-approval letter as well as the lender itself. You should be particularly suspicious of all-cash offers. What’s too good to be true, often is.

In evaluating offers, your listing agent will prove an invaluable support. He or she will do the legwork required to consider each offer and check out the buyers and buyer agents. Do ask your agent for input and opinions. However, in the final analysis, you are the decision-maker.

You’re more likely to attract multiple offers and save yourself headaches if you order your own property inspection before you put your house on the market. Feigned ignorance of the condition of your home risks an eventual lawsuit or costly work orders. If it’s bad news, you’ll have the choice of making repairs or reducing your asking price.

It also means fewer complications with negotiations and closing.
Negotiations are particularly difficult in multiple offer situations – not so much for the seller, but for the buyers. Hopefully, you and your listing agent will treat offers with respect. The seller pretty much dictates the way offers are presented, and making buyers jump through hoops – especially if their offer comes in well below the others – won’t benefit anyone. Let them know there are several better offers, so if they can’t increase theirs, they can exit gracefully.