How NOT to Succeed at an Open House

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentAs a tool to sell houses – at least the houses in which they are held – open houses are fairly useless. The appearance of activity doesn’t  mean actual activity is taking place.

Those who find the most success holding open houses do so not in selling the homes they are presumably trying to sell but rather in capturing buyers for other nearby listings and in getting listings from neighbors impressed by how hard these intrepid agents allegedly are working.

Watch enough sales strategy tapes and you’ll see that most of the advice given has nothing to do with the actual house being held open. The house is a vehicle for the agent to add to their sphere of contacts.


It strikes me, though, that if you are going to use a home you’re listing as a vehicle to attract business from the neighbors then you ought not insult those same neighbors.

Over lunch with a past client, she told me she had visited an open house two doors down. When she went to introduce herself the agent said something akin to, “I know who you are. You’re the ones who drove down all the property values here.”

Well now …

It’s probably not coincidence that the agent owns a home around the corner from my clients. I’ve written in the past that it’s not always the best idea to list your homes with agents who live in your subdivision; you hope they’re professional but you never know if they’re calculating their own property value in the back of their head as they list your home.

(This isn’t an issue if you’re in my neighborhood … I’m never going to move again so, frankly, your one sale now isn’t going to make much difference to my estate in a few decades.)

Whose interests are you representing when you hold open a house with the intent of gathering buyers and future listings?

Whose interests are you representing when you stubbornly hold to 2005 prices in hopes of maintaining your own paper gains even in the face of overwhelming evidence the market has changed?

[tags]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


  • Kris Berg 10 years ago

    All that! Yet, the sellers still want them, primarily because too many agents are promoting their “value” for the very reason you point out – an opportunity to get face time with potential clients for their own gain.

    Our argument is that the quality of the open house visitor is questionable. If they are serious about a purchase and seriously interested in the home, they will see it through an appointment with their agent or, absent an agent, will call as a result of the property marketing. If scheduling an appointment is too much trouble, they likely weren’t all that motivated at all.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    I was having this argument again in the car this afternoon, Kris … I think the odds of a qualified buyer happening upon the open house AND deciding to turn in AND actually looking AND falling in love with the house AND making a reasonable offer AND closing escrow are fairly slim.