Short Answer: No; agents hold open houses primarily to self-promote and to meet prospective buyer clients.
In working with a new listing client, the question “do you hold open houses” invariably comes up. After discussing the pros and cons of Open Houses, we let our clients decide if it’s something that they really want us to do.
When thinking about an open house, consider that serious homebuyers (the only ones that count) are highly-focused with specific criteria and a game plan to see all homes meeting that criteria. Once a home is listed in the MLS, it proliferates across all of the popular real estate web sites and will readily show up in online searches. Nearly all serious buyers have an agent who can give them a private tour of any home on the market; even those not working with an agent can find homes matching their criteria and arrange a private showing with a click or a call. The take-away here is that real homebuyers aren’t the people “popping into” open houses. Open house visitors (nosey neighbors aside) are invariably those in the earliest stage of the home buying and/or the education process – not yet real buyers.
So why would a real estate agent spend 3 hours welcoming unqualified buyers to walk through your home with, effectively, no chance of selling it to any of them? When you again consider that open house visitors are mostly early-stage buyers who don’t yet have an agent, the answer is simple: an open house gives the listing agent a free platform (your home) for self-promotion and meeting new prospective buyer clients. What is really cool (from the agent’s perspective) is that she can do it under the guise of impressing you with how hard she is working to sell your home.
With all of this said, there are exceptions and there are niche situations where we have recommended holding an open house. However, for the most part, open houses do not sell homes. Recognizing this is important because, aside from the inconvenience, opening your home to largely unsupervised strangers potentially puts you and your family at risk in terms property damage, theft, liability and privacy.