Are Open House Viewings Forcing Up UK Prices

The Townends agency, which says there are 12 buyers registering for every one new property that comes to the market, has defended the controversial Open House system.

“Open houses are a reaction to the sheer volume of people trying to view a particular property. Organisationally, they are the best way of trying to control and condense a significant amount of viewers, offering an equal chance to everyone” says Douglas Sleaper, Townends’ managing director.

At a recent Open House held by the agency, over 70 applicants viewed a home in Streatham, south London, in just one day. It sold for £75,000 over the asking price.

“As an agent, we understand buyers’ frustration at this catalyst for competing offers, particularly if they have been unsuccessful at securing several properties previously. From a vendor’s point of view, particularly those with young families, having a two hour window that will enable a high number of applicants to view the property at once, can be much more appealing than preparing for constant viewings over a number of weeks” he says.

Not every agent is as keen.

“It looks good for the client but buyers dislike it. Buying is an emotional process and there’s little positive emotion in being herded and pressured” says Ed Mead of Douglas & Gordon, another London agent.

Some commentators have suggested that the Open House technique, which is now used increasingly often in London where the excess of demand over supply is at its greatest, is contributing to an increase in sale prices as would-be purchasers panic when seeing rival bidders viewing at the same time.