Open Houses – Even a 3rd Grader Thinks They’re Dumb

This Sunday, I’m going to put signs up all over my neighborhood pointing to my house.  My family is going to leave and I will be home alone.  Then, I’m going to open my front door and let anyone who wants to, come into my home.  I might even advertise; on the internet, in the newspaper…let the whole world know that my front door is wide open and they can just come on in.

I asked my 9 year old son what he thought of that idea and his response was, “I think you’re crazy and it’s dangerous.  Don’t let anyone go in my room.”

But, isn’t this the definition of an “open house”?  Why do real estate agents do this?  Why put ourselves (and our client’s homes) into such a vulnerable, possibly dangerous situation, all in the name of a “lead” or a “sale”?

I’ve had agents tell me, “but open houses work!”  What do you mean by “work“?  Do you mean you get to meet people?  Why not sit at your local coffee shop for 2 hours or attend a local fundraiser instead?  Do you mean you find a buyer for the house?  Do you really think that the buyer would not have looked at the house and considered buying it if you hadn’t held it “open”?  Do you mean you get your sellers out of your hair for a week or two because you convinced them that an open house is an invaluable marketing tactic?  Don’t you think spending 2-4 hours really marketing the property would be more effective?

Is an open house really worth risking your own personal safety as well as the security of your client’s house and belongings?  Before answering, take a moment to read this blog post from  I think the quote, “It is amazing – a person needs more identification to (rent) a video than to wander through a family home” hits the nail on the head.

Let me ask this as well:  before you have an open house, do you sit down with your client and discuss the possible risks involved?  Do you have them sign a waiver releasing you from any liability should something from their home go missing?  Not all homeowner insurance policies cover theft during an open house (because the home is not actually broken into).  Do you advise your clients to check their policy prior to holding it open?

Open houses…they’re just not a good idea.



{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Ellia Cook March 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    I work in the field down in So Cal, and the truth that all of us who work in the field know is that open houses are just marketing ploys by agents and brokers to generate new buyer leads. They are rarely, if ever, valuable to the actual homeowner who has been ushered out of his or her house.

    It’s a sad truth.

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