Open House Tips - How to Hold a Successful Open House

Selling a House at an Open House

house with open house sign in front
••• Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Open houses can sell homes. The professional real estate community appears split on whether it's a good idea to hold open a house; although, I don't really understand the negative thoughts. It doesn't make sense to blatantly announce that no house should ever be held open, yet agents say it. Why would an agent want to restrict market exposure for a listing?

Common sense says it's smart to expose your home to the largest number of buyers, and getting buyers inside to preview a home is a huge hurdle to jump.

It's like keeping the house for sale a secret and saying, "Shh, let's not tell anybody about this house or invite them over to see it because it just might sell!"

A side benefit for an agent to hold open a listing is the real estate agent might receive buyer leads just from being in the right place at the right time. Yet some agents have actually said, "Well, that open house sold my listing, so I better not do that again!" The successful real estate agents I know often report that at least 20% of their sales, or one in five homes, sell through an open house.

Why Some Agents Don't Hold Open Houses

There are many reasons why some houses just aren't suited for an open. Here are a sampling of those reasons:

  • Too many listings. Agents can't be in two places at the same time.
  • Too much inventory to pull in buyers driving through the area.
  • All the homes in the neighborhood look the same.
  • Inclement weather discourages venturing outside.
  • Home doesn't show well; too messy, smelly or cramped.
  • Off the beaten path of traffic.
  • Condominium in the center of a complex that is hard to find.
  • Agent apathy.

Hosting a Successful Open House

Assuming your home is presentable, spotless from top to bottom, priced correctly and located in a high traffic area, here are tips to improve the odds your house will sell at an open:

  • Advertise online (newspapers are a waste of money). Write colorful, descriptive ads and place them in web classifieds or open house directories, too. Post Internet listings everywhere.
  • Map Your Open House Signs.
  1. Attach strings of balloons to each open house sign.
  2. Find the busiest intersection closest to your home and put an open house sign at that corner.
  3. The arrows should point buyers in the right direction.
  4. Place a sign every few blocks until you end up at your house.
  • Remove all vehicles from the driveway. Ask your neighbors to help out by not parking in front of your house.
  • Open all the drapes, blinds and window coverings –– let in that light.
  • Do not put spices on the stove to simmer without offering cookies, and do not, under any circumstances, use an air freshener because many people are allergic to synthetic odors.
  • Turn on every light in the house, except lights that produce noise such as exhaust fans without separate on / off switches.
  • Turn on soft music on each floor to help set a mood.
  • Have available four-color flyers filled with quality photos and reasons for a buyer to purchase your home.
  • Put out flyers that contain financing options so buyers can readily determine their monthly mortgage payment.
  • Serve refreshments and snacks or, depending on your budget, maybe a catered lunch.
  • Create a bulletin board of seasonal house photographs so buyers can see what the home would look like at another time of the year. This is especially helpful to showcase gardens during the winter.
  • Set out all documents pertaining to the house:
  1. Inspection reports
  2. Appraisal or comps
  3. Major repairs & warranties
  4. Blueprints for additions or future possible improvements
  • Be upbeat, cheery and greet each buyer who enters the home. Find out what the buyers are looking for and, if possible, show them why your home fits those requirements.
  • And absolutely, ask for feedback. Ask each buyer what they thought of your home and would they consider buying it. Agents and sellers are hesitant to ask for a buyer's opinion, so just grit your teeth and ask. It's the only way you're going to get a direct answer, and the answer just might astonish you. They might decide to sit at the kitchen table and write an offer. It happens more often than you would think!
  • Further, if you don't receive an offer at or directly after the open house, it doesn't mean your open house was unsuccessful. It could mean the buyers are obtaining a preapproval letter on Monday and sending you an offer a day or two later.