For Sale: Open House Signs

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentWhen I first started my real estate career I couldn’t wait to get my first listing. Not only was there an opportunity for income, but the company would give me three Open House signs of my very own presumably to use every weekend. I couldn’t wait.

Now I can’t wait to sell them off.

Switching companies requires changing out all of my marketing material. Since the bulk of what I do is online, there were only a handful of things that needed to be purchased – new business cards, name riders (and in time brand new for sale signs), thank you cards.

One item I will not be purchasing is new Open House signs. I don’t need them.

In making the decision last year not to hold homes open, I’ve done nothing to diminish my sellers’ chance of selling. Sales from an open house require a perfect storm – motivated buyers happening down the street, seeing the sign, following the signs, walking into the open house, deciding the home fits their needs, making an offer, actually being qualified to make an offer, negotiating the offer, and then everything else needed to close escrow.

Open houses are the least effective form of marketing – you’re throwing a sign out for hundreds of drivers to see, but only one or two (if any) actually are looking for a house even similar. Yes, it only takes one. But even that one or two needs to be qualified and actually want that one particular house.

Open houses are far more effective for agents looking to pick up buyers. Your usual open house conversation stops being about the host home 35 seconds in, once it’s determined the buyers don’t like this house. Then it’s off to other homes. That’s why some agents carry a list of other homes for sale in a subdivision. Or conveniently have the MLS handy in front of them.

It’s not your home they’re trying to sell. Well, at least not as a primary function.

One seller wanted an open house this weekend even though the property is 3/4 of a mile from a major road and inaccessible inside a gated community. Even if people followed the signs, how are they going to get inside the home? Illogical at best.

Think about it – how many times do you see the same home held open weekend after weekend after weekend after weekend? If open houses really worked, wouldn’t it have sold by now?

And so I didn’t buy the signs. There are other agents who will hold houses open to make a seller feel better. That’s fine if it works for them. I prefer to be upfront about the realities of selling a home and work where the buyers really are, on the Internet.

[tags]real estate marketing, Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Maureen Francis 10 years ago

    Did my twitter help inspire this post?

    I feel much like you do about open houses, though I do hold half dozen or so a year and I generally get something out of them. But I have better ways of marketing a home.

    I will always need the signs. I do broker opens, very elaborately planned broker opens, at least once a month. This week I got 70 agents through the house (without offering food!).

    That said, my husband does like doing open houses, so he is out there a couple of times a month.

    Was there a post about your switching to Re/Max? I noticed in January, but missed the announcement, if there was one.

  • Maureen M. 10 years ago

    I guess because of the traffic on our online open house list I feel like open houses are still valuable in my market. Putting a house on the list generates more online traffic and it also generates visiters at the open house.

    Yes people can schedule an appointment to see a house in person that they like online. I wish they would. I wish there was that kind of market where putting an open house up immediately caused buyers to scramble to get in before the open house. We don’t have that now in most of our market but I hope that is back in a year or two.

    Sacrificing a couple of hours to hold a house that is priced right for the market open works here.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    If it works, Maureen M, stick with it. All of the “success” stories I hear about open houses here in Phoenix have nothing to do with the house being held open.

    Well, except for my house which I did buy at an open house. We were the perfect storm (and I still was high on anesthesia from an appendectomy three days earlier.)

    Maureen F. – this had been in the works since yesterday but your Twit pushed me to write it. So, indirectly, yes.

  • Orlando Florida Homes For Sale 10 years ago

    I think open house signs are for the forever lookey lou’s out for a day of entertainment with the intentions of someday buying a home.

    I think it does let people know there is a house for sale and for that reason alone think it’s worth it.

    I think people search for an area before looking for a home so they may stop by to see what homes are like in the area but I think they eventually find there home on a listing and work with a realtor.