Why House Hunters Should Skip Sunday Brunch

Dated: 04/13/2015

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Why House Hunters Should Skip Sunday Brunch

Open houses overwhelmingly take place on Sundays and start most frequently at 1 p.m., but this isn’t always the case. Some open houses do happen between Mondays and Fridays, especially in the West. Likewise, Sunday open houses are much more likely to begin after 2 p.m. in some Southern housing markets, perhaps due to religion and local culture.



The home-buying season is upon us. With that comes millions of open houses across the country, where sellers show off their properties and would-be homebuyers take stock. So whether you’re a buyer, a seller, or just a nosey neighbor, here’s the story on when for-sale homes are likely to be open to the public. We’ve uncovered these insights by analyzing all listings on Trulia with scheduled open houses in 2014.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: The go-to day for open houses
If you’re planning on holding an open house, actively home shopping, or just want to stroll the neighborhood and poke your head in—no surprise—weekends are far and away the most common time for showing homes. But the breakdown is not even between the two weekend days. Open houses are over 2.5X more likely to take place on Sundays than on Saturdays, 67% versus 24%. So if you’re hunting for a home this weekend, looking on Sunday may give you the most choices.


Where You Can Hit Up Open Houses on Weekdays
But what if you can’t make weekend open houses? If you live in the West, you have a much better opportunity to attend an open house during the week. Over 11% of open houses in the West are held on weekdays. If you live in the Midwest, you’re out of luck. Only 5% of homes in the Midwest are held Monday through Friday. Weekday open houses in the Northeast and South make up about 8% and 9% of all open houses, respectively. The most common weekday for open houses is Friday except for the Northeast, where Thursday reigns.


Most Popular Time to Kick Off an Open House: Noon to 2 p.m.
While “location, location, location” is the mantra for real estate value, “time of day, time of day, time of day” may be the slogan for open houses. Among Saturday and Sunday open houses in 2014, 1 p.m. was the most common starting time, with a whopping 85% beginning at either noon, 1 p.m., or 2 p.m. But not all metros are alike. In the South and the Midwest, 95-99% of all 2014 open houses began between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., a bigger percentage than in other regions. The West and Florida had the smallest percentages. But, even in those regions, between 45% and 68% of open houses began during the two-hour noon-to-2 p.m. window.


Where Most Open Houses starting at 12pm, 1pm, or 2pm
U.S. Metro % Open Houses
Wichita, KS 99%
Little Rock, AR 98%
Knoxville, TN 97%
Newark, NJ-PA 97%
Oklahoma City, OK 96%
Louisville, KY-IN 96%
Columbus, OH 96%
Birmingham, AL 95%
Tulsa, OK 95%
Wilmington, DE 95%
Note: among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.


Where Fewer Open Houses starting at 12pm, 1pm, or 2pm
U.S. Metro % Open Houses
Fort Lauderdale, FL 45%
Las Vegas, NV 53%
Salt Lake City, UT 55%
Phoenix, AZ 56%
Winston-Salem, NC 60%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 61%
El Paso, TX 62%
Greensboro-High Point, NC 65%
Miami, FL 67%
Worcester, MA 68%
Note: among the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Where the “Church Effect” on Open Houses Is Very Real
A full 70.7% of Sunday open houses took place in the afternoon in 2014 compared with a bare majority of 51% of Saturday open houses. The greatest discrepancy was at 2p.m. Open houses held on Sundays were more than twice as likely to start at that hour as Saturday open houses.


This got us thinking: Are Sunday mornings and early afternoons reserved for churchgoing? At first glance, the answer was no. When it came to open house timing, we found that metros with the largest percentage of Christians were no different than other metros.

But things looked different when we examined the data more deeply. It turns out that Sunday open house scheduling did vary by metro in 2014 depending on which Christian denominations were most heavily represented. Those metros with the biggest concentrations of evangelical Christians were much more likely to have Sunday open houses that began after 2 p.m.  Why? It’s possible that evangelicals have longer church services, more active churchgoing members, or both. In metros with the largest proportion of evangelicals, sellers might hold Sunday open houses later in the day to avoid conflicting with church services.


But was this also a regional rather than just a religious effect? Metros with the largest percentages of evangelical Christians are largely in the South, a part of the country where midday Sunday dinners and family get-togethers might be more common. Indeed, we did find that Southern metros overall were more likely to have open houses that started at 2 p.m. or later, especially on Sunday.  But the evidence of a religious effect was strong. Among Southern metros, those with large evangelical concentrations were nearly three times as likely to hold open houses in the afternoon on Sunday as on Saturday.


The lesson here is that open house timing depends significantly on local culture. How people spend their time on weekends reflects faith, tradition, and custom. And those are things to which the real estate industry adapts.

Note: Our open house data consists of the date and start times of all scheduled open houses reported to Trulia in 2014. However, those data do not include ending times of open houses.

Ralph McLaughlin

Ralph McLaughlin

Ralph McLaughlin is a Housing Economist at Trulia and conducts research on housing market trends and real estate search patterns. His educational background includes a B.S. in Regional Development from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California at Irvine (with a specialization in Urban Development). He has more than a dozen publications and research papers in the fields housing economics, land use and housing policy, and industrial geography, and was previously director of the Certificate in Real Estate Development at San Jose State University.

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