By Ashlee Tilford

Selling a home can be an exciting time, especially if it means making a nice profit and moving somewhere you’re pumped about. However, the reality is, between preparing for showings, considering offers and handling contingencies, selling a home can come with some stress, too. Depending on the market and how quickly you need to sell, your real estate agent might recommend an open house — but is it worth the hassle?

What is an open house, and why host one?

An open house is a date and time when the home you’re selling will be “open” to anyone interested in viewing it.

To get prospective homebuyers to attend, the open house is typically advertised on listing websites and social media and in the local paper. If you’re working with a real estate agent, your agent will take care of planning, marketing, and hosting the open house. 

An open house can be a viable strategy for sellers who want to minimize individual showings, which can be inconvenient since the seller has to keep the home in tip-top shape at all times in the event of a showing. It also means being prepared to remove yourself and your family (including pets) from home at a moment’s notice. This might happen daily, and sometimes multiple times a day, in an active market. 

Open houses are also ideal if the home is show-condition. However, if the home needs work, hosting an open house could inadvertently showcase problems, which can deter buyers.

Do open houses work?

Whether or not open houses are worth the effort is a highly debated topic. Fifty-one percent of homebuyers found their home online, according to National Association of Realtors data; only 4 percent found a home by a yard or open house sign. If your real estate agent is pulling out all the stops, including advertising the home online, having an open house can only increase your chances of selling. To help you decide if an open house is the right choice for you, take a look at some of the pros and cons:

Pros and cons of open houses

Pros

  • Can drum up more public exposure to the home
  • Can help seller avoid the headache of multiple showings
  • Low-pressure way for homebuyers to view properties

Cons

  • Don’t always attract qualified or serious homebuyers 
  • Other marketing methods might work better
  • Could increase chances of theft or vandalism
  • Requires seller to keep home show-ready at all times 

How to prepare for an open house

If you’ve decided the pros of having an open house outweigh the cons, there are some things you can do to help your real estate agent make it a success.

First, work with your agent to make sure your listing is top-notch. Does the listing description highlight the most in-demand features or any “hidden gems”? Your agent should know what buyers in your area are looking for and what call-outs can help drive interest in your home.

Next, make sure the home is pristinely clean, and consider doing a bit of staging — both can help potential buyers see the home in a way that helps them envision their lives there. Avoid clutter and disorganization.

Finally, share the open house advertisement on every social media platform you’ve got and ask your friends and family to do the same. Between you and your agent, you should make sure as many people see the invitation as possible.

This article is also posted on Bankrate here.