Are show days still relevant?

With most consumers looking online for property, many real estate professionals have stopped using open show days as a marketing tool to sell a home, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“Within the property industry, there is some debate among real estate professionals as to whether show days are still a worthwhile step in the property sales process. While some still see show days as an intricate and necessary part of marketing a home successfully, others feel that the marginal success rate coupled with the security risks are just not worthwhile,” says Goslett.

Both sides of the argument have their merits, as well as their challenges. “An advantage of having a show day is that the home is visible and accessible to the public, with numerous potential buyers able to view the property on the same day. If a buyer is interested in purchasing a home in a area, they will stop in at a show house to see what is on offer. Another positive aspect is that buyers can personally interact with the agent and ask them any questions they may have about the property. The interaction will also open up the chance for the buyer to be put on the agent’s database or make appointments to see other homes within their portfolio of stock,” says Goslett.

Depending on the circumstances, having set show days can be less stressful than a view by appointment strategy because the cleaning and tidying is only done once a week, rather than numerous times to accommodate the potential multiple viewings during the working week. If the agent has keys to the property, it is less of an issue, but sellers may have to constantly be going home to let buyers in who want to view the property. From a logistical point of view, a show day can be far easier.

The biggest disadvantage to show days is the potential security risk to the agent, as well as the seller and their possessions. “The accessibility of the property is both a pro and con because people can walk into the home at will, making it an easy target and vulnerable to criminals.  It is not always possible for the agent to keep an eye on everyone who is looking at the home, which means that valuables can be stolen from the home,” says Goslett. “Unfortunately, an open house can be a dangerous invitation to the criminal element, providing them with undeterred access to the property, putting everyone at risk. There are also those who will come and view the property without any intention of buying, but are merely looking at the home for the entertainment value of it.”

He adds that when it comes to formulating the actual success rate of show days, it is very difficult because there is different feedback depending on the area and type of property. Each neighbourhood has a unique demographic and dynamics, which emphasises the importance of working with an agent who specialises in the area. “Some agents report that nearly all of their sales come from buyers who viewed the home during a show day, while others have not sold a property using this method in years. It all depends on the area and what works there,” says Goslett.

So, what is the alternative to having show days? If agent and sellers decide not to have open show days, there are other marketing options. Buyers can access a world of information and properties online. “Most consumers that are of property buying age have access to the internet via a computer or smart device of some kind. In addition, property search portals generally well-advertised and very user-friendly. Buyers often appreciate the simplicity of the online resources available to them and how these resources have streamlined the property search process. Many of the best leads in real estate have been generated through online property search portals,” states Goslett.

“Buyers are able to view and compare properties online in their own time and without leaving their home. They can then make appointments to see the homes that they are serious about buying. Prospective buyers who do this know what they are going to see, as opposed to house hunters on Sundays who are looking at any property regardless of their requirements and budget.”

Goslett adds that other simple, traditional but effective methods of marketing a home are ‘For Sale’ boards, flyers at busy intersections and newspaper advertisements. He notes that many agents have also embraced the marketing power of social media networks to enhance their connectivity to their target audience.

“Regardless of the method used to sell a home, it is vital that sellers use a reputable agent who has working experience in their area. The right agent will find an effective method to sell the home in the shortest time for the best possible price,” Goslett concludes.

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