Should I Pay My Real Estate Agent to Hold an Open House?

Reader question: My real estate agent wants me to pay her $250 to hold an open house plus $50 for a friend to help her for safety reasons.  Should I have to pay my real estate agent to hold an open house?


The short answer is – heck no!

I was appalled when I was asked this question. How can a real estate agent have the audacity to ask you to pay them so they can find new clients? 

Don’t get me wrong, most real estate agents will not do this. If you have a real estate agent that asks you to pay them to hold an open house – you should run for the hills. This is a huge red flag.


Why Do Agents Hold Open Houses?

The truth of the matter is - real estate agents hold open houses to find new clients. They do not hold open houses to sell your house. You may want to argue with me on this because you may feel that they are bringing a lot of people to see my house.  That is true, but what kind of people come to open houses?


Who comes to open houses?

Should I pay my real estate agent to hold an open house

Three types of people come to open houses:

  1. Nosy neighbors who want to see the inside your house and what upgrades you have done.
  2. People who are bored and don’t have anything better to do. I know this sounds strange, but these people are out there. They are driving around on Saturday or Sunday and see an open house and say, “Hey, let’s check it out.”
  3. People who are thinking about buying a house, but are not ready to start seriously looking.

Many people would argue that the third group is exactly the type of people you want to come to the open house. Real estate agents would agree with you.

But let's think a bit more about this.  What is the first thing you do once you get ready to buy a house?  You get a real estate agent!  Once you have a real estate agent, you don't wait for someone to have an open house before you go see their house.  Your agent sets up an appointment for a private showing.  The only time you go to open houses is when you are thinking about buying a house, not when you are ready to buy one.  

The people in this third group are typically 1 to 6 months away from seriously considering buying a house.  They are perfect for your real estate agent but a waste of time for you - unless you’re happy to wait 1 to 6 months to get an offer.

The fact of the matter is, anyone serious about buying a house has a real estate agent and will ask for a private showing for any house they want to see.


How much time does it take to prepare for an open house?

If a real estate agent tells you that you need to hold an open house, think long and hard before saying yes. Open houses are a lot of work…for the homeowner. 

  • You need to make sure your house is in perfect condition which takes about 4-8 hours of work.
  • You need to find a place for you, your spouse, your kids, and your pets to go for at least four hours on the day the open house. Oftentimes real estate agents like to hold open houses on both Saturday and Sunday.


Should I hold an open house?

If you want to find out if holding an open house is right for you, you can take my quiz below: 

Do real estate agents regularly hold open houses in your neighborhood?

Have you gone for more than 3 weeks without a call about your home?

Have you listed your home for sale on Zillow?

Have you distributed flyers to various places around town?

Do you have 5 hours to ensure you do what is needed to have a successful open house?


What should I say to my real estate agent who wants to hold an open house?

What do you say to an agent who wants to hold an open house at your home?  Her are three good answers.  

  • No thank you.
  • I'd be happy to.  It will cost you $250 to cover my time cleaning the house and being away from home.  
  • I'd be happy to.  Of course I would expect 10% of any commissions you receive for any new clients you sign as a result of my using my house for your marketing purposes.  

I guarantee the real estate agent will pass on the second and third answer. 


What if I want to hold an open house myself?

In my book, Check Check Sold, I give you a complete set of checklists showing you what you need to do to hold an open house.  This covers everything from preparation, advertising, staying safe, and following up with buyers.  For a limited time, the book will give you free access to the Home Selling Academy that will show you how to do all the things I mentioned above and walk you through the entire For Sale By Owner Process.