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This is my 20th anniversary as a real estate agent in the Tri-Cities. I’ve learned a lot in those two decades! Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned from my time in real estate.

A few weeks after I started my real estate career, it was time for me to hold my very first Open House!

Now, for all of you non-agents out there, you need to know the following: The primary purpose of an Open House is not to sell the house that is being held open. The primary purpose is for the agent who is holding it open to obtain buyer clients. If you’re looking to get some new buyer clients, you go where the buyers are. Where are the buyers? Some are going to Open Houses. If you connect with them there and they’re not already in an existing relationship with an agent, you can become their agent.

Now back to the story….

My colleague Connie had a listing priced at over $300,000. This was when the average sales price in our area was less than half that! She asked if I wanted to hold it open. I jumped at the chance!

It was a snowy winter, and on the day of the Open House, Matt and the kids came with me. The kids (6 and 2 years old at the time) and I hung out inside the house (it was vacant), and Matt shoveled the driveway and the walkway to the door.

I had a few visitors (which baffled me because who drives when it’s snowy outside? wondered this California girl) and was mindful of my role as a buyer’s representative.

What I Learned at My First Open House

When you hold an Open House as the listing agent of the house, you’re somewhat hampered by what you can say, because you can’t violate your duties to the seller. As the buyer’s representative, I wasn’t burdened by that, so I could encourage them to offer less, or to come in with some other terms that would make the buyer happy, but wouldn’t necessarily thrill the seller.

I didn’t sell the house at that Open House, but I learned a lot:

  1. It’s rare to sell a house from the Open House. It DOES happen, but it’s not common. I didn’t know that at the time.
  2. Open Houses are boring as all get out.
  3. I thought I’d excel at them because of my retail background, and it’s similar (people approaching me because I have access to what they might want to buy), but I didn’t.
Cari McGee Team open house sign

My first year in the business, someone who’d been doing it for years told me, “Try absolutely everything your first year. Open Houses, door-knocking, cold-calling, floor time, flyers, direct mail. Try it all and see what gets you the best results and what you enjoy.”

So I sat a LOT of Opens that first year. Probably twenty or more? I got one client from sitting an Open House that first year, which, looking back, is not a bad ratio of time spent to clients obtained. But because I spent so much time being bored, I looked at it as having a poor ROI.

What I Know Today About Open Houses

Since that first year, I’ve also learned a ton about setting intentions, prepping your energy, and believing in the Open House as a client acquisition method. When I sit them now, they’re not boring to me like they were then. I enjoy getting real-time feedback for my sellers about what people think of the house.

But, because I have made it a policy of mine to never be a dual agent (which is being the agent for both the buyer and the seller on the same house), Open Houses are a little tricky for me to manage. Even if I DO pick up a buyer client, I won’t write the offer for that listing of mine for them. So, if my seller demands I have an Open House, I will almost always have someone else sit it, or will sit it with someone else who can rep the buyer if they wind up liking the house.

I know other agents who swear by Open Houses as the greatest thing since sliced bread. They’ve never been my favorite thing, but they’ve certainly resulted in meeting great clients, and for that, I’m super thankful!

About The Author
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Cari McGee

Hi, I'm Cari McGee. 👋 I've lived in the Tri-Cities since 1994 and I've been a licensed Realtor® since 2004. That's a lot of local knowledge and real estate experience that I put into every article you read on my website! We've helped more than 560 families buy or sell property in the Tri-Cities. In 2023, our community voted us the bronze winner for Best Real Estate Team in the Tri-Cities Best voting. Learn more about me by clicking the link right above. And if you have any questions, get in touch anytime!

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