If you're selling your home, you might want to consider holding a lesser-known type of open house called a broker's open house or broker's preview. This event gives the selling agent an opportunity to market your home to other agents who might see that your home matches the requirements of a buyer.
A Broker's Open House Differs from a Traditional Open House
At a broker's open house, you leave for a few hours while your listing agent shows your home to other local agents instead of showing it directly to potential buyers. When an agent sees that your home might fit the needs of one of his or her clients, he or she can pass on the information about your listing. For each agent who tours your home, you gain potential exposure to a number of that agent's clients who might be interested in your home.
These events may be held on weekdays, while traditional open houses are typically held on weekends. Agents are available to view homes during regular work hours, but buyers often aren't.
Broker's previews also provide an opportunity for your agent to get professional feedback on how well your home shows and to ensure that the real-life experience of your home matches what you're marketing, says California real estate broker Monique J. Mansfield of M & M Realty Services in Santa Barbara, Calif. Mansfield recommends that sellers still hold a regular open house. While a regular open house is different from a broker's open house, it is not necessarily more effective.
Can a Broker's Open House Help You Sell Your Home Faster?
Richard Steinhoff, Senior Commercial Advisor with Prudential California Realty in Irvine, Calif., has brokered thousands of real estate transactions in his 30 years in the industry. He says a broker's preview is infinitely more effective than a regular open house.
"A typical broker open house will have 30 to 40 real estate agents touring the home. I have seen as many as 100. Each agent is typically working with eight active buyers. That means the home is being exposed to 240 to 320 buyers through the agents," he says. "A regular open house typically will have 10 to 14 people stopping by, many of whom are 'lookie loos' who are not really interested in buying," Steinhoff adds. "It is obvious the broker open house has a much better chance of producing a buyer and selling the home faster."
Some agents are less enthusiastic about the benefits to sellers. Cameron Novak, a real estate broker with the Homefinding Center in Corona, Calif., says that less than 3% of either broker's open houses or traditional open houses procure a buyer for that particular house.
"Open houses do more to generate buyers for the agent/broker," he says. A broker's open house may still be more beneficial than a traditional open house. He says that broker's open houses typically do a better job of getting the word out to agents who can find a suitable buyer.
A traditional open house might also help you sell your home because even though some viewers will not be interested in buying, they may know people who are, and if your house shows well, they'll tell them about it.
Approaching Your Agent and Preparing Your Property for a Broker's Preview
If you'd like your listing agent to hold a broker's open house, just ask. "Be sure to give the listing agent the confidence that the property will be ready to show on that day, and offer to put out cold cuts and fruit," says Mansfield. "All brokers love to eat while they are previewing properties!"
For a broker's preview, you'll want your home to show as well as possible. This means preparing it in the same way you would for a traditional open house: decluttering, organizing, deep cleaning and catching up on repairs. It also means creating curb appeal and depersonalizing the space so prospective buyers can picture themselves in the home. Professionally staging your home in advance of the broker's preview will also help your agent present your home in the best possible light.
The Bottom Line
While not all real estate professionals agree that holding a broker's open house is effective, if your listing agent isn't opposed to holding one, the worst-case scenario for both of you is a few lost hours of time spent showing the house, plus any money spent on refreshments. Because the best-case scenario is getting an offer, the risk seems worth the potential reward.