When laying out my personalized selling strategy for a new listing, sellers will often ask me if public open houses are really a good idea. In slower markets, sellers might feel disappointed putting a lot of work into an open house, only to have lookie-loos or neighbours walk through their house, with few serious owners. Some sellers are skeptical of public open houses, thinking that they are just used by agents in order to meet potential buyers. Even I thought so, too. I know of many agents in London who have used open houses solely to make more contacts and gain new clients and believed that the bad rep towards open houses was fully accurate.

And then London’s super hot market came along, and everything changed. Now, more than ever, agents are stretched for time, and public open houses are an excellent way to ensure that as many potential buyers see your listing, as early as possible.

When the vast majority of listing—nearly 70% (!!!)—are receiving multiple offers and there’s only one buyer, agents are putting a lot more time into getting their buyers a home and are busier than ever. Imagine: if there are between 6-12 offers on any given listing, that is 6-12 agents who help their buyers put in offers, fight for the win…and only 1 agent gets out ahead. That means, for every listing, most agents and buyers need to go back to the drawing board, and the buying process can be long and drawn out for everyone.

This is where a public open house is a real winner. Public open houses allow buyers with agent representation to view properties that may interest them, quickly and without having to schedule a separate showing, and without disrupting the contracts between buyer and agent. Public open houses will help increase the frenzy of your new listing: when a prospective buyer sees how many other buyers are interested in the property, in this hot market, only good things can happen.  

That being said, while I now strongly recommend that sellers use public open houses strategically and be wary of agents who are not willing to put in the time for this, I also have a warning to buyers: many open house agents will want you to ‘sign in.’ This is pure and simply a gateway offer (or bait), and you are under no obligation to provide your personal information. If you have an agent that is representing you and an open house agent asks you to sign a log in, sign you agent’s name. If not, simply put your name down without any contact information, to avoid the realtor trying to contact you in the future. If it is still an issue, view the home on a private showing with your agent, they don't ask for your ID for that, weird right?  You will always fare better when you trust in the agent that is already representing you, rather than getting inundated with calls from agents from every open house you’ve attended. Professional real estate agents will respect this relationship, every time.

Happy buying and selling!