Do Open Houses Still Matter in the Digital Age?

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Real Estate

In today's digital world, where you can virtually tour homes from the comfort of your couch, the relevance of open houses might seem questionable. However, there's more to them than meets the eye. Let’s explore the real reasons behind open houses, their history, and their worth in today’s market.

The History of Open Houses
Open houses have a long history in the real estate world. The first organized real estate activity in Canada took place in Vancouver in 1888. By 1903, a group of brokers began to form the first real estate organizations. These early agents relied on open inspections—placing signs on lawns to announce a home was for sale. This practice grew in the post-World War II era as a means to show new homes, with agents or builders often spending days on-site to accommodate tours.

With the advent of the MLS system in 1953, the public still couldn’t view the interior of homes without scheduling an appointment. Advertising evolved with agents placing photos in magazines or newspapers.

When I started in real estate, print ads were the primary medium, ranging from expensive glossy publications to affordable classified sections. Despite these changes, open houses remained a reliable way to showcase properties.

The Digital Shift
The digital age revolutionized real estate marketing! Platforms like enabled us to reach buyers quickly and efficiently online. Today, advanced tools such as Matterport, iGuide, and advanced virtual tours allow potential buyers to explore homes online in great detail. This begs the question: Are open houses still necessary?

The Purpose of Open Houses Today
Statistics indicate that only about 1% of homes sell directly through open houses, predominantly new constructions. Yet, open houses offer several advantages:

Exposure: Open houses provide additional visibility. They attract potential buyers who might not book a private showing but are interested enough to drop by.

Networking: Nosy neighbors, often dismissed, can be valuable. They might know someone looking to buy, adding another layer of word-of-mouth marketing.

Serious Buyers: Those just starting their home search might stumble upon the perfect home during an open house, realizing its potential without the pressure of a scheduled appointment.

Filtering Interest: Open houses help filter out uninterested buyers. Those who attend can get a feel for the home’s size and layout, saving you from unnecessary private showings.

The Hidden Benefits
While it’s true that some visitors are simply curious or seeking design inspiration, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. Open houses allow agents to showcase a home's unique features and establish a direct connection with prospective buyers, even if they are working with another agent.

For new constructions, model homes serve as tangible examples for customization, helping buyers visualize their future home on a different lot.

Are Open Houses Worth It?
In summary, despite the rise of digital tools, open houses remain a valuable strategy in real estate. They provide significant exposure and create opportunities for both buyers and sellers. So, while serious buyers might book private viewings, the open house tradition, now over a century old, continues to play a crucial role in the industry.

What do you think about open houses in today's digital world? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and remember, if you’re thinking real estate in Halifax, think Brenda K!

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