Agent Resources

Are open house viewings strictly for a seller’s market?

Open house viewings tend to be more popular with sellers than they are with potential buyers. For sellers, getting everyone to see the house on a single day is fine. They can arrange to go somewhere else for the day and don't have the stress of a number of different viewing appointments at various times during the week.

For potential buyers, the picture is more complicated. Open houses are nearly always on Saturdays, and for some buyers, this isn't a convenient day. Although buyers are sometimes given separate appointments during the day, anyone who has booked a viewing time after the first few will find that they don't have much choice of slot and have to take the time that is dished out to them if they want to see the house.

The idea is to drum up excitement and interest and make buyers aware that other people are viewing the same property. The hope is that buyers feel they’d better hurry up and get an offer in before someone else snaps up the property. If the market is busy, prices are rising and potential buyers are keen to get their hands on property, this may well work. But if the market is slack, it can become quite obvious to viewers that the agent has been standing around the house since morning and practically no one has come to view.

In London, it's more common for an open house to involve potential buyers visiting at the same time, and also putting in sealed bids after they have viewed the house. In other parts of the UK, an 0pen house can mean nothing more than a viewing that goes on all day. So agents need to make clear to buyers what kind of open house they are running, not forgetting that in some parts of the country, the whole concept is still something of a novelty.

So is the open house gambit one that only works in a seller’s market?

Holding an open house coerces potential buyers into doing what the agent tells them to do. In parts of the country where it is either a buyer’s market, or where buyers and sellers are fairly evenly balanced, it is far more difficult to force potential buyers to view a property at a set time. After all, if there are plenty of other houses to view and it's not convenient to go round during the open house, a potential buyer might not bother. So an agent has been tied up for hours for very little result.

As always, the agent has to have a really sharp eye for what is going on in the market. Map views of sold house prices, such as the ones provided by can help give a comprehensive and accurate view of the strength or weakness of the local market. This will help an agent to decide whether an open house is a worthwhile exercise or an expensive waste of time.

Source: Nethouseprices, 02/10/17

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