My clients know that I am a big fan of open houses—both for my buyer clients and also my listing clients. (I hold my listings open at least once per month. I just don’t buy the line from agents that “Open houses don’t sell homes.” I’ve seen it happen, and I don’t want to deny my clients that opportunity.)
I’m even a fan of visiting open houses even in cases where one may not be interested in that particular home. Why? Because if it’s in a neighborhood you’re exploring, it’s a great chance to get a data point for a property (and then a chance to monitor that property to see how quickly it does/doesn’t sell). For any buyer, after you see a dozen or so homes in a neighborhood, you have a very good idea of what the going price is for homes in various conditions in a subdivision. So when you finally find the home in that neighborhood that you ARE interested in, having seen as many homes as possible only gives you more comfort—or discomfort, as the case may be--about the price being asked. Sure you can look at the comps when you sit down to decide what to offer, but nothing compares to your own personal experience having seen a home in person. While I can certainly guide my clients as to what the reasonable range is for a neighborhood, or how one property compares to another that I had seen, at the end of the day, it’s the client’s money, and their own interpretation of value, that matters. And so the client has to be comfortable with the offer price, and there’s no match for your own two eyes when you're comparing two homes.
I feel so strongly about the value of open houses that I send my clients lists each week of homes that fit their criteria that they should consider visiting. Now there’s a tool to help visit those homes more efficiently – a route optimizer from VAR. Simply enter the addresses and then hit calculate to produce a set of directions to make the most of your Sunday afternoons.