“FREE ICE CREAM,” FREE HOT DOGS AND SODA,” “FREE MIMOSAS”…these are just a few of the open house teasers I noticed while driving around San Diego last weekend. Are these clever marketing ideas, or not? They’ll certainly attract hungry people…serious home buyers, not so much. Times have changed, and the way property is bought and sold has changed, commanding that we adapt or face the consequences. Consider these statistics:

*less than 1% of open house attendees make a purchase on the subject property.

*less than 40% of home buyers even attend open houses.

*most agents do little, if anything, to screen prospective attendees or verify their ability to purchase the property. This means ANYONE gets into your home.

Speaking from experience, open houses do not sell homes…they create leads for agents. For the small number of homes that do sell via an open house, it is reasonable to conclude that if that same property was marketed well, it would have sold anyway, without the unnecessary risk.

Abandon “old thinking” for a moment, and let’s apply some common sense. There is simply no good reason to let an unfiltered, unsupervised, and perhaps unqualified mob of people into your home, especially when it doesn’t increase your chances of selling. It’s a risk management nightmare that gives you a less than 1% chance of selling your home to one of those people. Meanwhile, they have complete access to your home.

If you insist on having open houses, then at the very least insist on the following:

*a sufficient number of agents/assistants to monitor the entire property.

*lock up all valuables and important papers.

*no food or drink that could result in spills.

*require in advance that any attendees provide a written proof of their ability to purchase. That’s their ticket in.

In my opinion, this would be the minimum standard…IF you’re going to have an open house. But why go through all of that? Prepare the home for market, capture the property’s best features on film and text, and syndicate that information to the places where home buyers are looking…the internet. Then, the only people coming to your home are people who may actually buy it.

Back to the FREE stuff…that may bring traffic, but dragging 50 people through your home means nothing without an offer to purchase. If it doesn’t bring you an offer, all you did is let a bunch of strangers in your home for no reason. Well, I digress…they did get FREE stuff.

That said, I enjoy the interaction at open houses, and of course generating new buyer leads…I just don’t think it’s the prudent thing to in most cases. As with anything else in real estate, there is no “one size fits all.” An open house may be the most efficient way to get traffic through your property, given the circumstances. If you choose to do or allow one, please consider the information provided here. For myself, I’ll generate those same leads in a different way, including the one that will buy your home…without the risk.