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Phyllis Harb is a Realtor with Prudential California Realty. She may be contacted at (818) 790-7325 or by email

Ask Phyllis!

How long should an open house last?

Dear Phyllis,
My home has been on the market for four months and my real estate agent only has one open house a month. Each open house is only two hours but I think my home should be open from 10 to 5. How long do you think an open house should last?  Anxious to sell

Dear Anxious,
When I began selling real estate in 1989, open houses were generally held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It seemed like a long time and there were always large gaps of time when no one was there, sometimes as long as an hour. Then a local Realtor® started holding homes open for only a half an hour; each Realtor® differs in their point of view, but I prefer an open house of two hours.

I think two hours is adequate and the plus side is that the (well advertised) open house is consistently busy. When you are opening your home to anyone off the street there are security issues. When there is a steady flow of people it is more difficult to steal. Teams of thieves have been known to visit open houses. One distracts the agent with questions leaving the other free to empty the medicine cabinet or worse. The other issue is Realtor® security; real estate agents have been killed while conducting open houses. I feel safer with a steady stream of people in and out of the home.

You didn’t ask, but if your home has been on the market for four months and hasn’t sold, there is a reason. And it’s not because of a lack of open houses. Most homes can be seen any reasonable time. If a buyer is interested and can’t make the open house time span, they can certainly telephone any Realtor® or the number on the for sale sign in order to schedule an appointment.

The point of the open house should be for buyers who are actively looking to purchase a home in the immediate future/today. Yes, today, because that’s when the seller wants to sell it.  Of course it can be an excellent opportunity for homebuyers to become acquainted with the market, and if that is their desire, I welcome their exploration during the two hour time span (and again, I feel safer with their traffic).