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The future of open houses

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Dear Phyllis,

We have been thinking about buying a larger home for several years. We really are just exploring the idea. And as such have enjoyed the flexibility of going to weekend open houses. Currently, we aren’t that serious, so we appreciate that we don’t need to bother or commit to a real estate agent. Once COVID-19 is over what do you think the future of open houses will be?

Love to look

Dear Love to Look,

Selling real estate during a pandemic has really shaken things up. I am taking our client’s safety very seriously. Because of COVID, if you want to look at one of my listings, you will need to produce, at minimum, a preapproval letter, evidence of down payment and signed disclosures indicating you understand COVID protocol. Additional requirements include masks, gloves or sanitizer and booties or removing shoes. All showings are by appointment only.


All of us are more cautious due to COVID.  Now that I have become accustomed to this new way of showing, a lot of it makes sense. Thefts have occurred at open houses, Realtors® have been accosted at them too. Years ago, prior to the Internet, open houses held a lot of value for the seller. Times change, because of the Internet, I don’t know that the value to the seller outweighs the risks. And aren’t you glad that open house signs are no longer cluttering every major intersection on the weekends?

I understand that the flexibility of open houses can be ideal for those uncertain about their plans. Open houses are also a great venue for first time buyers to become acclimated to the market. They also have the opportunity to meet different Realtors without pressure or commitment. But this doesn’t necessarily benefit the seller. Having someone who is ready and able to purchase today is what benefits the seller.

Although lenders, escrow companies and title companies are open Monday through Friday, I, and most full time Realtors work seven days a week. I have come to appreciate not having my weekends filled with open houses. Frankly, they can be exhausting.

Just like many, a lot of real estate agents are resistant to change. It will be interesting to learn what the future of open houses will be. Perhaps, after COVID – vacant homes might be handled differently than occupied ones. We shall see and good luck to you on your home buying journey!

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