The Pros And Cons Of Open House Viewings

The idea of an open house viewing is that the house is available for a period of time on a certain day for interested buyers to come and look around the property all at the same time. As with many things, there are pros and cons for everyone involved in the process of open house viewings - whether you’re the buyer or the seller.

One plus point of open house viewings for a potential buyer is that you're able to move around the property as you like, visit and revisit rooms as many times as you feel necessary and you can of course discuss the property more openly and honestly with the person you're viewing it with. 

As a seller, you only need to give your home one really good clean beforehand, rather than having to clean every time the estate agent lets you know there is another viewing taking place. Unfortunately time wasters and people who no show for a viewing are a reality of home selling, however with an open house viewing, it doesn't matter too much if some people don't show up or if there’s the odd one or two that aren’t seriously interested in quite the same way as it does when people are viewing the property individually. The open house approach will usually mean there will at least be enough other people there who are seriously interested in your property.

However as already mentioned, there are a few cons involved too. One of the most obvious for buyers is that the nature of open house viewings can often create a climate of competition and urgency, which is not a paticularly pleasant atmosphere. This heightened sense of competition amongst prospective buyers can often encourage people to offer above the asking price in order to beat everybody else to the property’s keys. Property search consultants encourage that prospective buyers must try and get over the pressure to make an offer under these circumstances. Buyers can also feel pressured into making an offer on a property that in reality isn’t quite what they were looking for or a good fit for them.

Some open viewings have resulted in cases where figures tens of thousands of pounds have been offered over the asking price, and on the surface, this sounds utterly fantastic for the seller and a guaranteed way to ensure they get the absolute most amount of money out of their property. 

However this can be a negative point of open house sales for the seller too. An offer on a home is not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination. Only when contracts are exchanged does the agreement between the seller and the buyer becoming legally binding, which gives the buyer plenty of time to back out of the sale. And it's likely that they will when it hits home that they've offered to massively overpay for a property, or if they realise that the home isn't quite right for them and they simply got too caught up in process. If you're looking to move quickly as the seller or have been trying to sell the home for a number of months, having a sale fall through is incredibly frustrating. So whilst it might seem great that buyers will be scrambling over themselves to make the highest offer, think carefully about whether you go with the highest bidder or whether you opt for the most credible buyer who is likely to see you through to the point where contracts are exchanged.

Open house viewings can also be problematic for buyers who are unable to attend at the specified time on the chosen day. This means they are in a position where they are unable to view a property that they were seriously interested in viewing - and it could have been the only one they'd come across in months and months of searching. 

This has ramifications for the seller too of course. A short window in which people can view the property cuts many potential buyers out of the picture, therefore as a seller, can you really feel confident that the right people in the best buying position got to see your home? Or have you just opened your front door to time wasters, nosy neighbours and people who want to buy, but are yet to get their finances in order and who wouldn't be able to complete quickly (in a nutshell, buyers who are not in the best buying position)? You might find that opening your home up to more viewings will allow you to find the right buyer.

Words of advice

As a potential buyer, whether you’re a first time buyer or not, an open house viewing can be an incredibly stressful way of kickstarting the process of buying a home. If you do find yourself in this situation, the best you can do is to try and stay calm and only make an offer that you’re comfortable with. Panicking and trying to outdo other buyers when you have no clue about what their budgets may be is a very good way to go over your own.

There’s also very little point bidding well over the asking price if similar properties in the area have sold for less, so before you go and view a property, look at what other properties in the area have sold for to give you some rough guidelines. Furthermore, bidding over the asking price and above what previous homes in the area have sold for, could put your chances of securing a mortgage at risk.

As a seller, think carefully about the offers that have been made and who they have been made by. The highest offer may not be the one that sees you safely to the point at which contracts are exchanged. They may back out completely, or dramatically lower their offer at the last minute - known as gazundering - and forcing you to accept in order to complete. 

Whilst it can ultimately be incredibly disheartening to not end up with the property you wanted, remember other ones will come along that you will like just as much, if not more. You’re also much more likely to prefer a property and not regret buying it if you’ve paid the right price for it rather than if you’ve been stretched to your financial limits in order to afford it.

So our final tip? If you find yourself buying a house through an open viewing, ask yourself this - must you own the house or must you win the house? If it’s the latter, walk away. 

Publish date: 28/08/2018

Publisher: New Home Finder