Is there a place for Open Houses in a real estate agent’s marketing strategy these days? Elaine Carlson, of PalosVerdesSource.com, exploses this issue in her article entitled “Is the Jig Up on Open Houses? There is no short answer.
Open Houses can be a viable, valuable marketing tool under certain circumstances and in particular niche markets. Real estate is after all local, and buyers often like to check out neighborhoods and houses up close and in person without having to commit to using the services of a real estate agents in the beginning stages of their search.
Just as many buyers prefer to view homes first online, anonymously, and educate themselves before actually making contact with a real estate professional, buyers also utilize Open Houses as a way to familiarize themselves with those particular communities in which they may ultimately have an interest in purchasing a home or condo.
We have found greater success in holding Open Houses than the average statistics may indicate in our local, niche markets. We hold Open Houses regularly in and around the University of California at Irvine in the villages of the University Town Center, Quail Hill, and Turtle Ridge in Irvine where homeowners and prospective buyers stop in to find out about about the current available listings, recently sold properties, types of properties, number of bedrooms and baths, floor plans, price per square foot, and proximity to specific schools in which they are interested. They ask about the current interest rates, whether housing prices are trending up or down, and ask us about our interpretation of local real estate market conditions.
An added benefit of holding Open Houses is the increased exposure these homes receive from showings by out-of-area real estate agents, who do not have local Board MLS access and, therefore, have an easier time showing our properties.
Because the demand/need for housing is driven by the proximity to the top-rated schools, in the villages in which we specialize, many of the potential buyers come from quite a distance to view the Open Houses. These communities are not only in close proximity to U.C. Irvine, but are within the school boundaries which include the top-rated elementary schools, including Turtle Rock elementary that feed into the villages of Turtle Rock and the University Town Center in 92603 and 92612, Alderwood Basics Plus elementary located in Quail Hill (92603), Vista Verde elementary (an award-winning year-around school), within the school boundaries of Turtle Ridge (92603), Bonita Canyon elementary in Turtle Rock (92603), Rancho San Joaquin Middle school, and nationally-ranked University High school which serve all of the local Irvine neighborhoods, south of the 405 Freeway, and near the University of California at Irvine.
Parents of both prospective and currently enrolled UC Irvine students visiting the UCI campus from a distant city, or from northern or central California, or, perhaps from out-of-state, or even from outside of the country, will stop by an Open House in the University Town Center, Quail Hill, Turtle Rock, and Turtle Ridge neighborhoods. They appreciate begin able to discuss the availability of off-campus housing during their short visit and can get a good sense of the area, view the current inventory on our laptop at the Open House, and schedule an appointment at the end of the day after the Open House has concluded to see the comparable homes/condos in the area.
As a direct result of holding Open Houses, we recently opened escrow on two of our listings in which we represented both buyer and seller, and assisted buyers in the purchase of two of our colleges listings in the same neighborhood. Moreover, as a result of an Open House we held in which a buyer happened to see, the buyer’s agent contacted us, an appointment was made to take the buyer through for a second look, which ultimately resulted in the sale of the property.
The bottom line is, as real estate agents, we are facilitators–enablers who strive to bring buyers and sellers together in a successful home purchase and/or sale. When it works, it fulfills the hopes and dreams of real people in their pursuit of homeownership. It’s an enduring and an endearing experience for all parties.
So the long answer (as it turns out, longer than I had anticipated), is yes, under certain circumstances, there ought to be a place for Open Houses in a real estate agent’s marketing strategy. But it’s a qualified yes. If it works, by all means use it; if it doesn’t, lose it.