For FSBO sellers, there are two schools of thought on the value of holding an open house. Some people, including real estate agents, think they’re a waste of time and attract only nosy neighbors, rather than qualified potential buyers.

I think the decision to hold an open house when you’re an FSBO seller is a matter of choice. How motivated are you to sell? How difficult is it to show your house at a moment’s notice during weekdays and weeknights? Even if you are available to show your home to interested buyers on short notice, why not hold at least one open house?

Benefits of hosting an open house as part of your FSBO strategy

Some prospective buyers who viewed the house during a scheduled appointment will also attend an open house. They do this for a variety of reasons:

  • Open houses are less structured – If they come to your open house, they may feel less rushed or constrained walking around and really taking in the property than they might during a one-on-one appointment tour. And since an open house doesn’t require an appointment, there is some flexibility as to the time and day, which is especially helpful if they want to view the house a second time at a more leisurely pace.
  • Since it’s an FSBO sale, no agent necessary– An open house for FSBO seller properties is agent-free, which makes it easier to schedule and allows buyers more time to look at the house without feeling pressured by an agent.
  • They can bring a friend/relative for input – An open house provides an easy opportunity to get opinions on the home from friends or family members whose feedback may be important to a buyer, but who may not have been available for a scheduled tour.
  • Buyers may want a second look – Any buyer who is seriously interested in a house and has already toured it by appointment may love the opportunity to have a second or even third look at it before making a decision. An added bonus is, with other visitors at the open house, interested buyers may feel more incentive to make an offer before someone else does
  • We are living in a world of anonymity, and buyers like the anonymity of open houses. The way buyers search for homes has changed completely—today, people look at 20 or more homes online, and narrow it down to 4 – 5 they’ll go view. Open houses are beneficial for buyers who prefer to remain under the radar.

Are nosy neighbors really the only people who attend open houses?

Neighbors can sometimes be nosy, but they may also have friends who might be interested in moving to the area.  It’s very possible that your eventual buyer will come from a referral provided by a neighbor who has toured it.

The more people who view your home, the more buzz you create. A well-advertised open house is a great opportunity to invite more potential buyers in. It’s a good idea to welcome neighbors to your open house, and encourage them to take flyers to friends and family members who may be interested.

Casual open house “drop-ins”

Do casual “window shoppers” ever buy homes they visit during an open house? I’m certain they do because I’ve seen it happen.

Some drop-ins like to kill a Saturday touring open houses for fix-it or decorting ideas to use in their own homes. Every now and then, a drop-in will fall in love with a house that has everything they would like their own home to have, and it’s in their price range! Impulse buyers are not necessarily strangers to open houses.

There may be more examples of people who attended an open house just for fun, or to accompany a friend, and ended up buying the home than we may know.

Why not host an open house?

Really, what is the downside to hosting an open house?  Sure you have to clean up and hang back for a few hours, but you have to do that anyway for scheduled appointments.

It boils down to how motivated you are to sell.  If you want to do everything you can to sell your home, why not?

When an open house is held within the first week of being listed, it is 13 percent more likely to sell than if no open house was held at all, and 26 percent more likely to sell than if an open house is held sometime after the first week.

Is there some sort of wizardry involved that makes a listing more likely to sell if you hold an open house in the first week? Probably not. More likely, it is perceived as a sign that you’re doing everything you can to sell your home. In contrast, an open house held later in the life of the listing can be perceived as a sign of desperation—an attempt to move a home that simply isn’t priced appropriately or doesn’t show well.

So, should you hold an open house as part of your FSBO strategy? Absolutely. What have you got to lose?