Massachusetts real estate agents often flaunt an open house as something you should do. But is it worth it?

Many sellers wonder if hosting an open house is worth the effort. I will explore the pros and cons of open houses and compare them to other selling strategies.

I will let the cat out of the bag early and tell you that open houses are not worth it. They put your home at risk of theft by bringing in anyone who has a heartbeat. More often than not, they attract people that don’t belong in your home.

The dirty little secret is that they offer far more benefits to real estate agents than sellers. Most top-producing real estate agents don’t waste their time with open houses and don’t need to prospect for business in this fashion.

I have put significant effort into explaining the following:

  • The benefits and drawbacks of hosting an open house.
  • Expert opinions on the effectiveness of open houses.
  • Alternative strategies to sell your home.

From three decades of experience as a Massachusetts Realtor, I know open houses are unnecessary for selling homes. I have not done an open house on a resale home in over 15 years, yet I’ve been one of the top-performing agents in the state in both good and bad markets.

All my client’s homes sell without putting their property or belongings at risk. It is a significant home seller mistake to put any stock into the importance of this marketing activity.

Let’s examine everything you should know about the viability of an open house as a successful sales strategy.

Are Open Houses Worth it

Are Open Houses Necessary to Sell a Home?

What is an Open House?

An open house is a scheduled period when a home is available for viewing by potential buyers. Real estate agents host these events to showcase the property and attract interested parties. Typically held on weekends, open houses allow multiple buyers to view the home without scheduling individual appointments.

Open houses generally last a few hours and are heavily promoted through signs, social media, and real estate listings. This event provides a low-pressure environment for potential buyers to explore the home, ask questions, and consider making an offer.

This is the least essential activity when examining what it takes to sell a home.

Pros of Holding an Open House

Increased Exposure

Proponents of open houses tell you they attract many potential buyers. This increased exposure can lead to more offers and a higher selling price. They don’t tell you that the same people who would attend would also schedule a showing with a real estate agent if they are serious buyers.

  • Broad Audience: Open houses are often advertised widely, drawing in a diverse group of potential buyers who might not have scheduled a private showing.
  • Drive-by Traffic: Curious passersby who see signs for an open house might decide to stop in, increasing the number of visitors.


Open houses allow multiple buyers to view the home at the same time. This reduces the need for multiple private showings and can save the seller and agent time.

  • Time Efficiency: Instead of coordinating numerous individual appointments, a seller can simultaneously showcase the home to many buyers.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Prospective buyers can visit at their convenience within the open house window, making it easier for busy individuals to attend.

Competitive Atmosphere

Having several interested buyers view the property simultaneously can create a sense of urgency and competition, potentially leading to quicker offers.

  • Bidding Wars: When multiple buyers express interest, they may be motivated to make competitive offers.
  • Psychological Pressure: Seeing other interested parties can prompt buyers to act quickly to avoid losing the opportunity.

Immediate Feedback

Sellers can receive immediate feedback from visitors. This feedback can be invaluable for making any necessary adjustments to the property or listing.

  • Real-Time Reactions: Observing buyer reactions and hearing their comments can provide insights into what aspects of the home are most appealing or need improvement.
  • Agent Insights: Real estate agents can gather feedback from attendees to adjust their selling strategy accordingly.

Cons of Holding an Open House

Open House Downsides

Open House Downsides Explained.

None of what you have read should cause you to have an open house. The drawbacks are far too substantial.

Security Risks

An open house invites strangers into your home. This can increase the risk of theft or damage, as it is challenging to monitor everyone.

Theft happens constantly, yet many unprofessional real estate agents never educate their clients about this.

  • Personal Belongings: Valuables and personal items can be at risk, requiring sellers to secure or remove them before the event. Some savvy criminals will unlock doors and windows and return later when nobody is around. I know of multiple instances where sellers have had things stolen from their property, including thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. You should know they can be dangerous for sellers and the agents holding them.
  • Property Damage: The presence of numerous visitors increases the chance of accidental damage to the property. Would these things be worth it when genuine buyers schedule a showing? You’re probably shaking your head, NO!

Not Financially Qualified

Another significant downside is that people cannot afford the house. Most of the attendees won’t be qualified to purchase.

Unqualified buyers: What has always cracked me up about open houses is that anyone can attend. You don’t need a pre-approval letter from a lender. The people attending might be unable to rub two nickels together, but they will be allowed inside.

Non-Serious Buyers

Many open house attendees are not serious buyers. Some visitors might be neighbors or curious individuals, not potential buyers.

  • Looky-Loos: People without serious buying intentions might attend out of curiosity, wasting the seller’s time.
  • Distraction: Non-serious visitors can distract the agent from focusing on genuine potential buyers.

Limited Effectiveness

Most homes don’t sell because of an open house. Private showings and targeted marketing efforts are far more effective.

  • Hit-or-Miss: The success of an open house can vary greatly depending on the location, market conditions, and property type.
  • Misaligned Expectations: Some sellers may expect immediate offers following an open house, which is not always true.

Time and Effort

Preparing for an open house requires significant time and effort. Cleaning, staging, and coordinating with the real estate agent can be time-consuming.

  • Preparation: Sellers must thoroughly clean and stage their home to make a good impression.
  • Scheduling: Coordinating with the agent and ensuring the home is available at the scheduled time can be challenging.

Expert Opinions

Vicki Moore, an experienced Realtor at Pacifica Locals, offers the following:

While open houses can be convenient for potential buyers, they are not always the most effective strategy. When someone came up with this bright idea, open houses were advantageous. However, a lot has changed in 50 years.

Open houses help invite your neighbors and strangers to walk through your home, and judge how you live. They’re also helpful in saving time for buyers’ agents to send their clients while either at another appointment or just taking the day off.

Serious, qualified, and focused home buyers will want to see the house privately with their agent. They want to take their time walking through, looking out the windows, and checking to see the size of the kitchen without the distorted light and lense professional photographers use.

They’ll imagine where their furniture will go, most importantly, the TV.

These are the people you’ll want to open your house to. They’re more likely to be respectful and appreciative of the opportunity. And their Realtor will be there to keep them from wearing out their welcome.

In speaking with Cathy Counti of Ask Cathy, she knows the benefits AND the drawbacks of an open house and shares her experience:

“While open houses have traditionally been a staple in real estate marketing, they are not always necessary to sell a home in today’s market. With the advent of digital marketing, virtual tours, and targeted online listings, buyers can explore properties extensively without stepping foot inside.

This shift allows sellers to reach a broader audience, often leading to quicker sales without needing an open house. In a competitive market, leveraging technology can be just as effective, if not more so, than traditional open house events.”

Statistics on Open Houses

A survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 52% of buyers use open houses as a source of information. However, according to NAR, only 7% of buyers found their homes through an open house.

  • Information Gathering: Open houses are valuable for buyers gathering information, even if they do not result in immediate sales.
  • Conversion Rate: The relatively low percentage of homes sold directly from open houses suggests they are part of a broader strategy rather than a standalone solution. Not having an open house won’t be why your home isn’t selling.

Real-Life Examples

Successful Open House

Jane and Michael hosted an open house in a desirable neighborhood. They received multiple offers and sold their home above the asking price.

  • Attractive Location: Their home’s location and appeal contributed to high attendance and competitive offers.
  • Effective Staging: Exceptional staging and a well-planned event drew in serious buyers.

Unsuccessful Open House

Tom held an open house with a minimal turnout. He received no offers and sold his home through private showings and online marketing.

  • Low Attendance: Poor timing, ineffective marketing, or an unattractive property location led to low turnout.
  • Alternative Strategies: Private showings and targeted online marketing proved more effective for selling his home.

Alternative Strategies: A Comparison

Private Showings

Private showings provide a more personalized experience for potential buyers. They allow the agent to highlight the home’s unique features and address specific buyer questions.

  • Personal Attention: Buyers receive undivided attention and can take their time exploring the property.
  • Focused Sales Pitch: Agents can tailor their pitch to the specific interests and needs of the buyer. First-time sellers should understand that showings are gold compared to open house traffic.

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours have become increasingly popular. They offer a convenient way for buyers to view a property online, attracting a wider audience.

  • Accessibility: Buyers can view the home from anywhere, increasing the pool of potential buyers.
  • 24/7 Availability: Virtual tours are accessible anytime, providing flexibility for busy schedules.

Targeted Online Marketing

Using social media and real estate websites to target specific buyer demographics can be highly effective. This strategy ensures that serious, interested buyers see the home.

  • Precision Targeting: Ads can be directed at individuals most likely interested in the property.
  • Analytics: Online marketing provides data and insights that can help refine the strategy and improve effectiveness. Homes sell fast when priced and marketed well.


In summary, an open house isn’t worth the trouble when selling a home. The downsides are too substantial to ignore.

  • Increased exposure and convenience are potential benefits.
  • Security risks and the presence of non-serious buyers are significant potential downsides.
  • Private showings and online marketing can increase the chances of a successful sale.
  • There is an increased chance of dual agency, which is bad for home sellers who accept this practice.

As a next step, consider evaluating your home and target market to decide if an open house is the right strategy for you. Explore private showings and virtual tours as complementary methods to maximize your home’s exposure and attract serious buyers.