The 24/7 Open House and the Death of the Realtor Tour

Graveyard by MacieklewI’m not the only agent who has observed that there are fewer and fewer agents visiting homes during our weekly board of Realtors tours. These tours, typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Oakland County, are designed to invite Realtors to come through the new listings. There could be lots of reasons that attendance is fizzling. Certainly listing inventory is high right now. And it is summer, so is everyone taking a break. I don’t think so.

But what can we do about the fall off in attendance? Should we do anything? The Birmingham Bloomfield Realtor Network has gone to truly elaborate ends since last November to coax agents in to our listings. Sponsors have given away lots of goodies, we served food, we’ve offered shopping. And the results have been good. But there is no way we could do this any more than once a month. It is too labor intensive, and if it were done more frequently people would stop showing up, because it would become ordinary.

Yet regular open houses and broker opens are getting almost no attendance. It is frustrating to sit there for three hours and have nobody show up. 3 of our most recent 4 open houses have had nobody at all show up.

I have long wondered how important it is that people or agents come to these open houses. Yes, buyers and agents need to see homes in order to buy them. But I have the feeling that on-line marketing is beginning to replace much of the schlepping around that we all used to do prior to a home sale. Homes are certainly getting eliminated and selected based on photographs and other methods of marketing. We know that our listings are getting viewed on the web because we can track the hits to the sites where we showcase them. If people are interested, they will schedule a showing when they want to see it, not during the random 3 hours that we happen to be sitting there.

There is the convenience factor too. My websites are open for 24/7 viewings. No need to schedule with the other agent and the home owner to find a convenient time for everyone. Just visit or Oakland County MI real estate site or our Birmingham MI real estate site and you will find lots of information about our listings and all the MLS listings as well. I am officially declaring the death of the Sunday open house.

[tags]open houses, marketing homes[/tags]

photo by Macieklew


  1. says

    Hi Maureen. While I certainly agree with the sentiment behind the death knell, I’m not sure it’s time to pronounce — at least not here in Columbus anyway.

    Though I’ve had my share of no-show open houses, Columbus buyers still love them and Columbus Sellers do too. Not in every part of town though. Most of Central Ohio is relatively slow right now and so are our open houses.

    As for the Realtor tours, we have geographic groups of Realtor Associations that meet once a week and tour each other’s listings. I like them for the friendships, the humor and the ability to talk to others who work my markets outside of my company. I also get in homes I may not otherwise see and I like to be up on the local inventory. Also, I think my company is almost the only one who still does an office caravan tour to look at each other’s listings.

    Technology has taken the wind out of the Open House sails but there’s something to be said for seeing the real thing up close and personal. It’s still a lot of fun to ‘just look’ before you feel you’re ready to buy or commit to a Realtor. That said, I do think Open Houses are already becoming an “old school” marketing tool and Sellers are beginning to realize that they don’t result in sales very often.

  2. says


    Our office caravan is great. Our board opens are marginal, at best. Some neighborhoods are better than others.

    We have long told sellers to not expect much from open houses, and that, while we do like holding them, the most likely beneficiary of an open house is us, as those that walk through are rarely going to like the random home they walk in to.

  3. says

    when I got into the business in 1977, (I was just a child)we actually hired a bus and went “on caravan”. Trails of cars followed. We went from house to house and then usually went to lunch afterwards. Nothing much else happened on Wednesdays. Of course, Al Gore was a long way from inventing the internet. I do think that has made a big difference.

  4. says

    I can see where the bus tour would have worked. Especially with Realtors who could not yet obtain a driver’s license.

    I can’t see corralling a bunch of Realtors on to a bus today though. At least not in my market.

  5. says


    How much of this is the Internet and how much is the slower market? I mean only a year and half ago listings were very busy here in Phoenix. I know its slowed down here, but has the Internet really increased in that much importance to account for the fall?

    The listing tours we’ve done here have been fairly busy. But, bertainly not as busy as a few years ago, but brisk enough for us to keep doing it.


  6. says


    Certainly the slower market is a factor. But I have noticed the low attendance for longer than our market has been slow. At the same time hits on my sites have increased substantially over time.

    I am not a quitter. We will still do them. But I think it is really important for sellers to understand that the open houses are not the be-all end-all in marketing a home. Some agents have little else to offer. 90% of the agents in my office do not even have one web site of their own.

  7. says


    Thanks for the comment over on Trulia! I just took a few moments and read some of the postings on your blog…it’s nice to see another “tech-savvy” Realtor creeping around on the internet. Your blog seems very well kept. Usually, I have chatted with the majority of the internet dictators out there and I’m wondering if we have ever crossed paths before? I feel like I’ve seen you on Active Rein or somewhere else…probably my blog log. Anyway, I’m stopping by to comment on the death of the open house and the fact that 90% of the agents in your office are without a website companion. In 2003, when the market was intensely hot here in Virginia Beach, everyone that new me would always scour and sigh saying, “Get out there and network!” Now the market and the open house are dead and these same agents are now going to be utilizing my services. Funny, but I’m glad things have been going in the direction they have. Maybe I’ll see you again Maureen, in the meantime…take it easy.


    Vincent Talerico (also Googalized)

  8. says


    Until recently, I had shunned open houses here in Paradise (aka Ann Arbor, Michigan)! Granted, the Team I’m building has had an effect on my shift of perspective, but when you hold two houses open on the same day and see 11 interested parties come through, something’s workin’!

    Our focus has been to create a neighborhood event, not just an open house. We’ve had frank discussions about the real estate market in Paradise, and are now working with five interested parties; buyers and sellers. We call them Real Estate Chats and publicize them anywhere we can! I’m sure you’ve seen our invites on the blog, ActiveRain and Facebook…

    As for broker tours, in our board it appears as though all the sales meetings are on Tuesday mornings and office tours immediately afterwards. We have experienced the same dwindling in the broker tours. I can only surmise that the agents are all “too busy” with clients to check out the inventory…

    Happy Fourth Maureen!



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