What is an Open House?

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question “What is an open house?”, we’re about to tell you the answer. The first thing you need to know about an open house is that it is a powerful tool that can help you showcase your home and potentially help you sell it quickly, while giving you a good chance of getting your asking price.


Of course, with COVID-19, how an open house is executed has changed to accommodate the need for social distancing. However, it is still a valuable tool in a home seller’s arsenal, and it is valuable for the buyer, as well. In fact, the benefits of an open house speak for themselves. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at the difference between an open house and a house showing.

What Is an Open House vs. a House Showing?

The first thought that may come to mind when you are selling your home is that your agent will be doing showings, and you are absolutely right. A house showing is a scheduled time at which your real estate agent (the listing agent) will show your home to a potential buyer, who will come with their real estate agent (the selling agent). You might have multiple showings in a single week, or even a single day.


In contrast to a showing, an open house is a period of time, typically one to two hours, during which anyone interested in viewing the property can do so. Potential buyers may come with their real estate agent, or they may come on their own. Essentially, your home is open to the public during this time, and it can be viewed by a large number of people in a short period of time.

The Benefits of an Open House

There are benefits to an open house for sellers and buyers. For sellers, an open house allows you to:


  • Show your property to many potential buyers in a short amount of time.
  • Clean up your home and make it look amazing once, as opposed to doing it over and over again (particularly if the open house leads to a sale).
  • Directly see the level of interest in your home.
  • Make it easy for potential buyers to view your home.
  • Motivate potential buyers to make an offer when they see the amount of interest in your home.
  • Get competing offers on your home, which can drive up the price.
  • Potentially sell your home through the open house and not have to do showings.


Of course, nothing is perfect and there are some drawbacks to holding an open house. They are a lot of work to set up and not everyone who comes through your home will be a potential buyer. Some people will simply take the opportunity to see what your home looks like on the inside. In addition, you will need to make sure your valuables are protected/removed so that would-be thieves can’t rob your home under the guise of viewing it as a potential buyer.


If you are a buyer, there are also benefits to an open house. These include:


  • Being able to view new construction homes and resale homes.
  • Being able to spend a single day going to multiple open houses, rather than having to book individual showings.
  • Viewing homes in a casual and relaxed way.
  • The ability to see the level of competition there is for the home or the area in general.
  • The ability to ask the listing agent questions about the home and the neighborhood.


Again, there are some drawbacks to open houses for potential buyers. They can be very busy, and it can be tiring and stressful to view multiple houses in a single day. However, if you are ready to buy, it may be the most efficient and effective way to do it.


With all this in mind, the open house is still one of the best ways to promote the sale of your home (or to buy a home) and your real estate agent will be able to ensure it goes off without a hitch.

How to Prepare for an Open House

If you are the seller and you are holding an open house, there are several steps to take to prepare your home. These include:


Thoroughly cleaning and tidying your home and exterior property, which includes removing any furniture that is unnecessary and keeping personal items to a minimum.

  • Putting away pet dishes and toys so they aren’t visible.
  • Removing any valuables, such as jewelry and artwork, that could be stolen.
  • Putting out snacks and beverages for people who are walking through.


Your agent will also provide a sign-in sheet to record the names and contact information of the people who walk through your home.


If you are a buyer, you will want to wear comfortable shoes and clothing that presents a good first impression. You should also be prepared to:


  • Leave your younger children and pets at home.
  • Avoid bringing food and drinks into the home.
  • Take your shoes off if the seller requests it.
  • Smell the home as you walk through for signs of smoking, pets, or mold.
  • Look closely at ceilings and under sinks for water damage.
  • Look under rugs and behind artwork/photos for signs of damage.
  • Check the number and location of electrical outlets.
  • Check the direction the windows are facing.
  • Check whether there is enough storage.
  • Prepare any questions you have about the home and neighborhood ahead of time.

Know What an Open House Is and Take Advantage of It

Keep in mind that although you will prepare your home for an open house, you will not be present for it. As with showings, your real estate agent will host the open house. Also, while an open house can be a powerful tool in selling (or buying) a home, you may also need to schedule private showings.


It is also important to keep in mind that during COVID-19, an open house must follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This may require limiting the number of people in the home at one time, wearing face masks while indoors, ensuring social distancing, not serving food or drinks, and having hand sanitizer onsite. It may also require getting the contact information of those attending for the purpose of contact tracing.


Contact us today to find out more information on what an open house is and how it can benefit you.



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Published 12.30.21

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