With the real estate industry continuing to embrace technology, the usefulness of traditions that many used to consider vital to the industry is being questioned. From live videos to virtual and recorded tours, the Covid-19 pandemic is speeding up the adoption of digital solutions. With distance becoming less of a barrier, potential buyers now have more options than ever before.
In the shift to a more technologically minded industry, some professionals might wonder if open houses are still a necessary part of the process, especially with social distancing still in place. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Real Estate Council whether in-person open houses are still valuable for real estate professionals in an increasingly digital industry and how professionals can leverage virtual options.
Members of Forbes Real Estate Council share reasons why open houses are still valuable in a socially distant world.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Open Houses Are Still Preferred
Open houses are not dead, but they are becoming safer than ever. While agent use of live and recorded video technology has taken a huge leap forward, for some sellers a safe open house (with masks required and visitors limited) is still the preferred method as they don’t want two dozen separate buyer visits. An open house can now be safer for buyers and sellers while offering an experience tech can’t match. – Kevin Hawkins, WAV Group, Inc.
2. Open Houses Convey Everything
Here in Mexico, we find we must do both. Virtual tours are critical because our buyers are always long distance and start their home search online well in advance of a visit, but we find we must still provide either a real open house, especially to the realtor community, or an actual walk-through with qualified clients. Digital can’t convey everything to buyers! – Gregory Gunter, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel
Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?
3. Open Houses Provide Further Business Opportunities
If an open house is done well, you meet prospective sellers in the neighborhood and allow agents the convenience of sending their buyers through. You also have the opportunity to meet buyers who may just be beginning to look and do not yet have an agent. We have written two contracts on our listings this year from the open house when a buyer was unrepresented. It’s a win on all counts. – Melinda Estridge, Estridge group
4. Open Houses Humanize Housing
Open houses are valuable, but during the pandemic they are not the safest thing to do. I do believe both are important during normal times. However, when not available, an agent should become the person that would be looking at the home and living there. They have to become the buyer and transmit the emotions as housing is very emotional. It needs to be humanized, not marketed. – Mike Shapiro, Mike S Shapiro
5. The Open House Experience Is Irreplaceable
Open houses are still relevant, regardless of how good videos, VR and 360-degree photography get. Nothing beats walking through the home or property. These technologies will always leave out the noise you might hear from a busy road or the lack of sun the property gets. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but smell, noise and how the property feels once you walk through it is irreplaceable! – Chris Ryan, Beyond Properties Group (eXp Realty)
6. Open Houses Help Consumers See Before Purchasing
I don’t think there will ever be a day when a consumer doesn’t see the property in person before they purchase it. While sales do happen sight unseen, generally it’s the result of discounted pricing or a distressed sale. – Adam Mahfouda, Oxford Property Group
7. Open Houses Provide Complete Purchase Comfort
Open houses now almost more than ever hold a high value for home buyers. With working and schooling from home becoming the norm, it is very important for buyers to have complete comfortability with the purchase. You cannot know if a room is large enough for a work or school space virtually. Commuting times are now less important and living space is top priority. This needs to be viewed in person. – Ralph DiBugnara, Home Qualified
8. Open Houses Provide More Exposure
There are no drawbacks to open houses as the vast majority of people would not buy a house sight unseen, so the more showings, the more potential buyers. Also, people are more likely to provide feedback if you ask them in person versus email or text. As such, open houses are an efficient way to get more exposure and showings for a property, as well as gather honest and valuable feedback about it. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
9. Open Houses Are Very Popular Now
Open houses are actually more popular than ever in that phone apps allow for buyers to see all the available open houses over a weekend. Some markets are so robust that houses in certain price ranges are selling at the open house and multiple offers are being presented. – Rita Santamaria, Champions School of Real Estate
10. Open Houses Offer A Personal Touch
Open houses are still important for higher-end, luxury listings. The open house experience offers a personal touch that many higher-end buyers expect when working with a real estate professional. It can also create a competitive environment for offers. But for the vast majority of housing inventory out there, self-tours are a much more economical and convenient method of showing off listings. – Chuck Hattemer, Onerent
11. Open Houses Are Low-Cost Solutions
Marketing a home is all about getting the most eyeballs as possible on the listing. Hosting an open house is a relatively low-cost solution to getting more people to view the home, especially compared to print and digital ads, which need a significant amount of monetary investment to be effective. – Ron Costa, The Eighty Two Group
12. Open Houses Are Great Marketing Tools
From my experience as a new home developer, open houses are still quite valuable marketing endeavors. Virtual tours are great, but they do not provide the “feels” that buyers get when they tour homes in person, such as the sensory factors of the home, the way one feels in the space, the opportunity to touch, smell and feel what the home offers. Buying a home will always remain sensory and emotional. – Garratt Hasenstab, The Mountain Life Companies™
13. Open Houses Are Flexible
Agents who use physical and virtual open houses along with virtual tours and video walkthroughs can leverage their time while also reaching more buyers. Buyers who are not able to make a physical open house would still be able to benefit from virtual channels. – Chris Bounds, Invested Agents
14. Open Houses Help Minimize Buyer Remorse
It’s important that the buyer can walk the property, visualize themselves living in the house and emotionally attach to the house so that the best sale price can be achieved. Furthermore, it’s important to minimize the chances of the buyer having second thoughts about buying something they haven’t seen. Open houses also present the opportunity to demonstrate to buyers how much interest a home is getting. – Venkat Avasarala, Raven Multifamily