With the California Department of Public Health allowing open houses now, it would seem that we are getting back to normal.  The industry has done open houses for 100 years, so taking a few months off shouldn’t inhibit the practice from coming back.

Or will it?  It will.

Why? Because the covid-frenzy has condensed the selling process into a weekend. We only show homes by appointment now, and many listing agents demand that buyers show proof of ability to purchase just to see the home. It makes for a clean and tidy 5-30 qualified appointments over the first couple of days on the market, and then pick a winner. Job over.

Listing agents will resist having to work any harder. Instead, they will adopt the appointment-only plan, and then convince sellers that they don’t want random people wandering around their house.

What are the benefits of open houses? Why would we want them to come back?


The main reason to do open houses is to create real or imagined urgency – the fear of missing out.  There is nothing better to motivate a buyer than to see other competitors roaming around the house at the same time – it makes them think that they will lose out if they don’t act promptly.  Sellers deserve this benefit.

While demanding to show proof of ability-to-buy sounds good, it eliminates those legitimate buyers who do have the ability to purchase, but don’t want to show their financials just to see a house. We want to include these buyers who are currently shut out from the process. I know there will be agents who will scoff and declare that any buyer who is unwilling to show their underwear just to see a house isn’t a serious buyer anyway. But it’s just an excuse – the minute the frenzy is over, you’ll be back to showing homes to anyone with a pulse.

Interacting with buyers in person helps agents keep their chops up.

C.A.R. will be releasing more open-house guidance tomorrow. They will insist on booties and masks, and they might include a modified registration book where attendees state that they don’t have covid.

But don’t be surprised if agents are slow to adopt the old-fashioned open house techniques.

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