In the midst of the world’s largest-ever open house campaign, perhaps it’s appropriate to ask just who benefits from the scheduled hosting of the public at a home for sale.

The obvious answer — the sellers of homes — sort of fits. Carlo Losco, president of Balsley Losco Real Estate in Northfield, says his agency’s many open houses today will result in the sales for about one-tenth of them.

Buyers benefit, too, and for sellers wishing to be among those getting the deal done with an open house, a look at what sort of buyer uses open houses can help.

The National Association of Realtors, overall sponsor of this weekend’s nationwide open house, has worked up a picture of typical open-house buyers from its annual profile of buyers and sellers.

For starters, open-house buyers usually are not starters. They’re more likely to be repeat buyers, looking for their second, fourth or whatever house.

Couples, whether married or not, are more likely to walk through an open house than single buyers, the Realtors say.

And the higher the income of the prospective buyer, the more likely they are to view properties by means of open houses.

But, people with middle incomes — in the $55,000 to $75,000 range — are the most likely to actually find the home they’ll purchase through an open house. At incomes beyond that, the percentage of those just looking increases.

In keeping with first-time buyers being less likely to visit open houses, only a quarter of the youngest buyers (ages 18 to 24) tend to use this form of home inspection.

The older a buyer gets, in fact, the more likely he or she is to join the open house crowd. Those 65 and older are the most likely of any age group to find their home to buy through an open house, the Realtors say.

Buyers using open houses are also more likely in the South, among those seeking an existing rather than new home, and among those who were born outside the U.S. or who speak a language other than English at home.

So, sellers might be more likely to be successful if their home appeals to older, middle-income couples seeking an existing home.

The main beneficiary of open houses, though, may be neither the seller nor buyer — but the agent.

About a decade ago, the Real Estate Center of Texas A&M University surveyed real estate agents about open houses and found that 97 percent of them had shown homes that way.

But only 41 percent said the technique helped sell the house, and a third of them said an open house attracts many potential buyers. By contrast, two-thirds felt that most people attending open houses were not serious buyers. The exception was for unusual homes, which a majority felt benefit from the open-house treatment.

Even when they don’t sell the house being shown, however, hosting agents find the open house delivers benefits.

For example, three-quarters of agents surveyed said open houses are effective in interesting buyers in homes other than the one being shown.

More than half of agents said open houses are also good for generating new listings of homes for sale, from among the people they meet at the event.

Susan Carr, an agent with Prudential Fox & Roach in Northfield, said the extended benefits are why a lot of agents swear by open houses.

“It’s a great opportunity to show the house and gain additional business for the agent,” Carr said. “You get to contact buyers and potential sellers, who will come in to interview possible agents for their sale.”

So beyond the sales made at the hundreds of open houses in the area this weekend, there will be a lot of contacts made that increase market activity as well.

Contact Kevin Post:

609-272-7250