Buyers love to see apartments, but they’re not the only ones. Any seller knows that Manhattan’s open houses are filled with competitive people looking to buy a great apartment, but they also attract people who have no intention of actually signing a contract; many just want to see places for their own entertainment. Much like a Broadway show or a movie, it’s a way for people to engage in fantasy for a few hours, which is why many open houses for Manhattan apartments in the $1 million to $2 million price range are such scenes. Perhaps this is why, despite their popularity, some are beginning to question how useful open houses really are. This is the Internet age, after all, and many buyers now rely on sophisticated websites to buy apartments rather than brave the crowds. So this raises the question: if you’re selling an apartment in Manhattan, is hosting an open house worth your while?
While some stats point towards the opposite conclusion – a 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that fewer than half of all home buyers in America use open houses in their search for a new home - the consensus seems to be that yes, open houses are worth it in today’s market, because this is time when buyers are all too aware that very few condos in Manhattan are available – but they have to be done the right way.
The first thing that sellers should know is that people like to snoop, which is most apartment owners in the higher echelons of the price range tend to favor private showings by invite only. A writer for the New York Times recently went to a number of open houses in New York City and found some interesting details. For one thing, he noticed that people absolutely love to go through closets. They’re curious to look at every last detail. So if you host one, be prepared for some close inspection and get everything in order. There are many specialists who you can hire to do some redecorating and cleaning up, making those small changes that may make the difference between someone making an offer rather than walking out the door.
For brokers, it’s more cut and dried: there’s no question open houses are not at all obsolete, if only because clients need to see that they’re working hard to sell their home and most aren’t impressed by digital showings. There’s something reassuring about seeing people actually look through your apartment, and it’s not a vain hope that some of those people will whip out their checkbooks either. Many Manhattan sales have come about because people go to an open house, fall in love, and then pay more than the asking price out of fear that someone will outbid them. This is especially true of weekday showings that tend to attract more serious buyers. Weekend showings, on the other hand, draw a much more diverse crowd.
Some brokers would argue that the value of open houses extends far beyond pleasing clients. While virtual purchases are certainly more and more common, many buyers still like to gamble and throw down money on the spot. This impulse is only amplified by seeing other people who look ready to do the same, because it stimulates the fear that someone might beat them to the punch. So if you’re selling an apartment, it’s your call: an open house might be a hassle that doesn’t lead to much, or it might lead to instant success.