The extinction of the open house

Wow, it is hard to believe that we are now in the time of the year when the days start getting shorter! Where has 2011 gone? The garden is growing (and mainly weeded) and the grass is green, but it just doesn't FEEL like summer. The closest I have gotten to my golf clubs is when I bumped against them in the shed while parking the lawn tractor. We have been trying to have a garage sale for the past 3 weekends, but it keeps getting postponed because of the weather. Now, I think it is finally a go – at least I hope so because I set up a dozen tables in the yard before work this morning.

Garage sales are certainly a sign of spring and summer. Another such sign is real estate open houses. Most Sundays and some Saturdays this time of year, it is very common to see the open house ads in the newspaper or see the arrow directional signs on the streets. It has been very interesting, however, to notice the shift in open house attendance over my 13+ years in this business. Sundays used to be the regular routine of picking a listing and holding an open house from 2-4. You would get several “regulars” for whom it was a social event, others looking for decorating tips, some curious neighbours wondering how it compared to their home, and then a healthy barrage of people who were looking at the possibilities of buying a home.

Now it seems that, aside from new home open houses where people want to ooh and aah at the latest and greatest, open house attendance is down considerably. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to have NO people at an open house (we call it getting skunked). The mystery doesn’t take a CSI to solve. It is quite simple. The internet has gradually replaced the open house as a buyer’s tool of choice to look at a home. Buyers no longer have to drive around and wade through house after house. They simply need to only look online and see pictures and video tours as well as get all the information about the house on their computer. In fact, CMHC released a survey this week saying that 86% of buyers used the internet as a resource for determining mortgage rates and products. Obviously it would only stand to reason that they would search for their home in the same manner.

Online real estate activity has also gotten to the point that you can get a app for most mobile phones that will keep you linked to the housing market, allow you to do property searches, map out what listings are close to you and more. So the new question for your agent is not “How many open houses will you do?” but rather “How high is your Google score?” If 86% of people are looking on the internet and 6 people come to an open house – well, you do the math.

Kelsey Adam

Kelsey Adam

CENTURY 21 Accord Realty
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