Open House Definition

What Is an Open House?

In real estate, an open house allows the public to walk through and visually inspect a house for sale. An open house allows potential buyers to get a sense of the property before making a buying decision.

Why an Open House Is Done

open house

Holding an open house is a traditional step in selling a home, despite online listings changing how buyers sort through their options. One major reason is that open houses allow potential buyers to set foot in a house and decide whether to schedule a private showing later. The more people who visit the open house, the higher the chances one could ask for a private showing, which is one step closer to a sale.

In addition, an open house is a more relaxed way of looking for a house to buy, unlike a showing, during which buyers may feel pressured to make a decision right away.

An open house offers many advantages to a real estate agent as well. Since an open house is essentially about foot traffic, the agent has an opportunity to show the house to as many people as possible in a limited time, which increases the likelihood of selling the property. Even if the open house has attracted visitors who have no intention of buying yet, the agent can impress them enough to become their client in the future[1].

Hosting an Open House

Not all sellers or real estate agents host an open house, but there are instances when hosting one makes sense, such as:

  • A unique property that is vastly different from anything in the vicinity.
  • A house located in an area where houses are in high demand[2].

A unique house has a better prospect of being sold early or dictating a higher selling price because it is a rare find. Buyers may be more willing to pay a premium if they know the house offers a unique selling proposition absent from its contemporaries. Therefore, an open house will allow the seller to showcase the house’s advantages and quirks.

On the other hand, a house located in an area where homes are selling quickly can also benefit from an open house. The more people who visit the open house, the more people can make an offer for it, helping raise the property’s value.

Can a Seller Host Their Own Open House?

A seller is free to host their own open house, while a real estate agent is likely to do an open house shortly after the property has been listed. However, as agents are not paid to do an open house, they might not hold many, especially not for the same house.

Many owners also feel the need to hold an open house more than once to increase the chances of selling it. In this case, the owner may have to host the open house without the help of their agent[3].

What Is the Best Day to Do an Open House?

Saturday and Sunday are the best days to do an open house because most people have no work during these days. In high-traffic neighborhoods where more people go out for a weekend stroll, the chances are higher for such strolls to turn into impromptu visits to an open house.

Between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM is the best time to do an open house, as more people who have weekend activities have their weekend afternoons typically free[4].

Who Can Go to an Open House?

Practically anyone can go to an open house. A buyer can go to an open house with their spouse or their family. Some buyers visit an open house with their real estate agent[5]. Even non-buyers, or people who happened by the open house without any plans to buy a home soon, can enter it.


BY THE NUMBERS: 63% of homeowners cited neighborhood quality as the main factor influencing their decision where to buy a house.

Source: NAR 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report

Pros and Cons of an Open House

open house prospective buyers

Hosting an open house to sell a home has been a matter of debate for a long time. Some real estate agents and brokers argue that an open house works; others disagree.

Either way, an open house presents advantages and disadvantages, as described below.

Pros of an Open House
  • Prospective buyers feel more relaxed in an open house than in a private showing, as they do not feel pressured into buying the property.
  • An open house gives the property more exposure, increasing the house’s chances of being purchased sooner.
  • Some people who have no intention of buying a new home soon can end up deciding to buy after visiting an open house.
  • Inexperienced buyers, such as first-time home hunters, might not know where to begin, and visiting an open house is an excellent first step.
  • For real estate agents, an open house is a chance to grow their business by building their client list out of the people who have signed the open house guest list.
Cons of an Open House
  • An open house is not a requirement to sell a home.
  • Visitors who attend an open house may not all be qualified to actually buy it.
  • An open house exposes the property to security issues during and after the open house[6].

What Is the Difference Between an Open House and a Showing?

While an open house means the dwelling is open to the public, a showing is more private, as an agent for a particular buyer schedules a tour of the home they are interested in. This is different from an open house, during which anyone interested can walk freely in and around the house at their leisure and at the same time as everyone else[7].

Both are tools at an agent’s disposal, but it is a good idea to know where to use one or the other. For example, if an agent does showings exclusively, it might take longer to sell the house to the point that its value may decrease.


  • An open house is the practice of letting interested parties view the house for sale, often in person. This process allows them to have a feel for the property before they make a buying decision.
  • An open house benefits sellers who own a unique house or one located in an area where houses are selling quickly.
  • An open house is different from a showing in that the former is open to the public, while the latter is a private tour for a potential buyer typically hosted by a real estate agent.


  1. Weintraub, E. (2021). Do Open Houses Sell Homes? The Balance. Retrieved from
  2. Vella, L. (2020). Top Selling Agents Explain How to Do an Open House Right. HomeLight. Retrieved from
  3. Lappin, S. (n.d.) How to Set Up Your Own Open House – Even If You Use a Real Estate Agent. ListingDoor. Retrieved from
  4. Kish, K. (2021). When Is the Best Time to Host an Open House? FastExpert. Retrieved from
  5. Braverman, B. (2021). How to Find Open Houses Near You. Bankrate. Retrieved from
  6. Hiscock, K. (n.d.) The Pros and Cons of Open Houses in Real Estate. Rochester Real Estate Blog. Retrieved from
  7. Steele, S. (n.d.) Ask Sharon: What’s the Difference Between a Showing and an Open House? Sharon Steele Real Estate. Retrieved from

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