Technology has changed the way property is bought and sold. Over 90% of buyers use the internet to start the search for a new investment property or to check out the competition before deciding to list a property for sale. Keeping up to date with new marketing tools is crucial, and a major part of my role as a selling Realtor. 

But buying and selling property is still very much a people business and I believe there are valuable opportunities for investors, sellers and Realtors to connect at open houses.

When you start your hunt for a new investment property, you may need to collect ideas of what you want. Listings online or on paper only tell you so much. Getting a sense of a property's space is one important aspect, but so too is the neighbourhood.

If there is an open house in the neighbourhood in which you want to buy, I recommend that my buyers attend. Even if you don’t love that particular house, it's an opportunity to see what your budget will buy in the area and to question the real estate agent about the local scene and amenities. If you are lucky, you may even overhear comments from other attendees about the property, neighbours and neighbourhood.

Doing research on the many housing styles, neighbourhoods, and by questioning several real estate agents in the area will also help you better define your needs and housing wish list when it’s time for you to put in an offer.  

Open houses have been a corner stone of selling property for many, many years. It’s a tested and true methods of selling a home and meeting potential buyers. I have met a wide variety of people during open houses – from the nosy neighbours and open house junkies to first-time buyers and some who later became my new clients.

The "looky-loo" type of house buyer does exist at open houses. But that shouldn't be used by agents as an excuse against open houses and that shouldn't deter investors from going to an open house to learn more about the property and the neighbourhood.

There may be people who are just attending an open house  to pass the time, but for every one of those types, in my experience, there are more attendees who are genuinely looking for a new property or for ways to improve their own before listing it for sale.

Adapting sales strategies to meet the changing demands of the online market is one aspect of real estate success, but so is connecting with people. Open houses are a great way to do that because you never know when you’re going to walk into your next investment property.