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Open houses have traditionally been considered an essential part of the home-selling process. While they can be beneficial in some circumstances, many real estate agents and sellers believe the potential problems outweigh the benefits.

Reasons to Hold an Open House
When selling a house, exposure is key. An open house can bring dozens of people through the door in a few hours. Even if someone isn’t interested in buying your home, that person may have a family member or friend who would be.

When buyers attend private showings, they often feel pressured to make an offer. An over-eager real estate agent may try to persuade them to buy even if they’ve said the house isn’t right for them. An open house gives buyers an opportunity to stop in, look around, and spend as much or as little time as they want. Since other buyers will be present, a real estate agent won’t be able to spend too much time with any one person or couple.

Some homebuyers, particularly those who are searching for their first house, feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. They may not have found a real estate agent or secured a mortgage pre-approval. If those buyers see an advertisement for an open house, they can stop by and talk to the seller’s agent, who may be able to explain how the process works and help them get started.

Downsides of Hosting an Open House
Generally speaking, only a small percentage of homes are sold as a direct result of an open house. In most cases, interested parties contact a real estate agent to schedule a private showing.

Anyone can walk through the door during an open house, including people who couldn’t possibly afford your asking price. The agent has no way of knowing a visitor’s financial situation and might wind up wasting time talking to unqualified people instead of buyers who could actually afford the house.

Sometimes people come to an open house to be nosy. Neighbors may want to see how your house compares to theirs because they’re planning to put their own home on the market soon. People may want to see how your house is decorated to get ideas on how to decorate their own. In some cases, people attend open houses simply because they have nothing better to do.

Open houses can attract thieves, too. If you decide to host one, be sure to remove any valuables from your home. Unfortunately, an open house can also serve as an opportunity for burglars to case a property so they understand its layout and can return and commit a robbery later.

Is an Open House a Good Idea?
An open house might help with some buyers, but many real estate agents believe that they’re unnecessary or only make sense in specific circumstances or markets. Talk to your agent about the pros and cons of hosting an open house. If you decide to do so, be sure to take security precautions.