I've heard from sellers on several occasions that open houses do not sell houses. I've had homeowners on occasion insist, for that reason, that we conduct no open houses. While there are some valid concerns about allowing random people come into your house, I can personally attest to the role open houses play in selling a home.
Open houses are usually an item on a marketing plan, which is made up of a number of different strategies, or at least it should be. (An agent who puts your home on the MLS and stands by tapping their foot does not have a marketing plan.) We of course don't know in advance which one of these strategies will bring in the ultimate buyer, so we employ several. A buyer might drive by the a sale sign to become alerted to a particulary house being for sale (although there are sellers who are opposed to those too), and on another occasion they might see the house tour on Youtube. You can't miss out on a captive audience when all you need is one buyer!
A open house attracts a particularly captive audience as you have real buyers coming directly to you telling you they are a real buyer who may be interested in to purchasing that home. How great is that? The home has certainly already passed some litmus test for them in terms of price, neighborhood, etc. I've absolutely sold homes strictly due to the open house. One that comes to mind was an extremely cute home on a busier street. Some agents ruled it out for their buyers and didn't push showing it. But when I'd have an open house I got a lot of buyers through who weren't sure they wanted to have their agent add it to a tour list, but felt the open house was a low-risk proposition.
On another occasion in Wilmette I had a listing that was a bit farther west, and when I held the broker's open house, exactly 7 agents came to see it. I thought it was going to be a dismal outlook for that house. But on the following Sunday I had a great turnout at the open house, and the following day they had their agent write up an offer. The agent hadn't even seen the home.
I in fact had an agent today email me about a listing I just put on the market. She said her clients came through my open house yesterday and were possibly interested in making an offer. Good thing I had that open house I think.
Will an open house be the procuring cause for a buyer of your home? Maybe, maybe not. But it's part of the mix. We don't know what one thing we do will introduce that one buyer to the house for the first time, so we execute our strategies and work hard to have something stick.
To the naysayers who refuse to hold open houses, it's those sellers whose homes are on the market longer. Let us use our tools. We may now and again pick up a new client in the process who seems to like us, yes that's true, but that isn't the purpose.
In general, it can't be a secret you are selling your home. Other companies who have products to sell advertise their products, they don't shy from letting you know they are an option for you. Let us have that time face-to-face with buyers to give them a tour and tell them first hand how great the home is.