Are open houses worth it?

Are Open Houses Worth It?

Between cleaning, getting the sellers out of the house, breaking out the cheese and crackers and uncorking a bottle of wine, open houses are a burden for you and your sellers. But what if you were to find out it’s not always worth the time, talent and effort?

For most of California, it is. But the truth is, having an open house doesn’t always help you to sell a home more quickly — or for a higher price.

Homes with open houses tend to sell for above the asking price and more quickly in California, according to a report by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. The report analyzed sales data of homes in markets where Redfin is active going back to 2010.

However, the signals are decidedly mixed. Across California, the difference varies by region. In:

  • San Francisco, 74% of homes with open houses sold above asking compared to 47% of those without an open house;
  • San Jose, 65% of homes with open houses sold above asking compared to 47% of those without an open house;
  • Los Angeles, 36% of homes with open houses sold for above asking compared to 29% of those without an open house;
  • Oakland, 65% of homes with open houses sold above asking compared to 49% of those without an open house;
  • Sacramento, 13% of homes with open houses sold above asking compared to 12% of homes without an open house; and
  • Orange County, 18% of homes sold above asking, the same as without an open house.

On the other hand, homes in Ventura, Riverside and San Diego tend to sell for less when the agent holds an open house.

What accounts for the difference? Some homes simply present better than others in person, or are located in desirable areas with significant foot traffic. Further, take the above Redfin study with a big grain of salt: their data may be skewed by the fact that agents tend to hold open houses only for those homes that are in coveted locations and in prime condition, and therefore already more likely to sell for more and to sell quickly.

In other words, agents are more motivated to host open houses when they have an attractive listing they want to show off. And why not? Open houses are just as much about the agent getting to know the nosy neighbors who stop by as they are about trying to solicit interested homebuyers.

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