“I use open houses to sell my services…not the houses”

– Patrick Flynn (whoever that yahoo is)

Certainly everyone knows about open houses and how with proven open house strategies you can meet new clients…heck, every once in a Blue Moon you even sell a house or two doing them!

Aside from throwing out a few directional signs, most of us really don’t do all we can to really use our open houses to get more business.

Of course, there is the door knocking an hour our so before your open but who really does that?

Perhaps you even send out the omnipresent 4×6 postcard a few days before your open…too bad most of those hit the trash can before they’re even read!

What I’m going to talk about is really giving so much value to the visitors they can not help but be impressed with your knowledge of the neighborhood as well as your attention to detail.

This is my must do list to use open houses to get more traffic…more referrals…and more website traffic than ever before!

Open House Strategies


Make Sure the Sellers are Doing Their Part!


As real estate agents and brokers, we feel sometimes like we have to do all this ourselves or simply don’t want to bother the seller with all this.

NEWS FLASH…You sellers are a big part of this process so get them involved with your open houses and don’t do all this yourself!


15 Steps to Preparing for an Open House


  1. Hire a cleaning service.
    • A spotlessly clean home is essential; dirt will turn off a prospect faster than anything. Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms.
  2. Pay attention to the outdoors.
    • Mowed lawn is a must and be sure toys and yard equipment are put away.
  3. Lock up all valuables, jewelry, and money.
    • Although your on site during the open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.
  4. Turn on all the lights well before the open house starts.
  5. Send the pets to a neighbor or take them outside.
    • If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (a basement or bath).
  6. Add a touch of color.
    • Use fresh or silk flowers to breathe life and color into the main rooms. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room.
  7. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious.
    • Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, fresh towels, and fancy guest soaps.
  8. Does it smell good?
    • Set out potpourri or fresh-baked goods for a homey smell. Make sure that there are no lingering scents from cigarettes or pets.
  9. Help the buyers envision living there.
    • Set the table with pretty dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture themselves there. For example, in the basement lay out a chess game.
  10. Beautify the entrance.
    • Buy a fresh doormat with a pretty pattern or a clever saying.
  11. Make the rooms feel bigger.
    • Take one or two major pieces of furniture out of every room to create a sense of spaciousness.
  12. Accentuate counter space.
    • Put away kitchen appliances and personal bathroom items to give the illusion of more counter space.
  13. If there is a fireplace and it’s the dog days of Summer,
    • still lay logs in the fireplace, or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.
  14. Depersonalize the rooms.
    • Put away family photos, mementos, and distinctive artwork.
  15. The lawn should look good.
    • Turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes to make the lawn sparkle.


Tips for Using Your Open Houses to Really Maximize Your Time


Do 2 open houses in 1 day

This is particularly effective open house strategy when used in an established community or a neighborhood.

In my early days, I worked an area in Seattle called Queen Anne. Here you could find lots of homes of all styles and types and that was my target! I would schedule an open house from 1pm to 2:30pm and then off to another property getting there no later than 2:45pm and staying until 4 or even 5pm.

This strategy is most effective in an area with lots of homes and easy access.

NOTE: I didn’t hold my own listing open unless the seller insisted. I would contact my real estate friends and ask them to hold my listings open and I would hold theirs open. That way, I could always be assured I’d have two open houses even if I didn’t have an active listing.

Have more than just a simple flyer to hand out

Aside from ensuring you have a sufficient supply of flyers, you also need have more than just a one sheet piece of paper with nothing other than the house and your contact info.

  • Use the other side to print out similar homes open in the area so the buyers can compare.
  • Add a second sheet with lender info (or better yet, invite your lender to sit at the open houses with you).
  • Have some recently sold homes that are comparable and  available so buyers can also see what homes are selling for in the area.
  • Make sure you use color and a nice paper stock, glossy, professional is preferred.

NOTE: In this particular market, it’s also not a bad idea to have an offer packet available. This would include instructions on how to present the offer or what day offers will be accepted as well as a Form 17 property disclosure form, Lead Based Paint addendum and any other required forms. 


Sample Script for Your Postcard Inviting Neighbors to Your Open House


Postcard open houses scriptDo You Know What Your Neighbors at 123 Main Street Did recently?

“Your neighbors at 123 Main Street have decided to sell their home!

“Now that they’ve made the decision to sell, they need your help to do it. This four-bedroom, three-bath home is listed for only $289,000. The owners have put a lot of work into the home over the last several years – it shows like a model! The property is beautifully landscaped, with mature trees and a generous backyard.

“There will be a preview open house this Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4pm, and you’re invited to stop by. If you know anyone who’s thinking of buying a home in the Kentwood area, be sure to tell them about the open house this weekend.

“In the meantime, your neighbors would appreciate it if you kept your eyes and ears open for a buyer for their home.”

Include your name, company name and telephone number in very small print at the bottom of the postcard. You can include a photo of the house on your postcard as well as a photo of yourself.


Have Refreshments Available for Your Open House


This open house strategy may sound like a no brainer but, having something to nibble on or drink isn’t always the first thing you think about when you are getting ready for your open houses.

An attractive galvanized bucket, a bag of ice and some water or soft drinks can go a long way to keeping buyers around for questions or just to relax and take in the homes ambiance.


Last But NOT Least…Make Sure They Leave Knowing Your Name and How to Contact You

Make sure you take the time to really nail this one. Don’t waste your time with holding open houses for leads and not get leads.

One of the first things I do when holding another agents house open is get their permission to use my own flyers!

In fact, that is the determining factor on whether I will hold that particular house open or not. You see, my job during my open houses is not to sell the house, but to get folks interested in working with me to buy their house!

Summary of How to Use Open Houses to Get More Business>

Holding open houses is not just a nonchalant way to kill a Sunday afternoon.

There should be some serious work done before and after the open house to ensure you are maximizing your time.

I joke that only Priests, Football Players and Real Estate agents choose to work on Sundays! That said, you are working and you should be willing to put in the time and the effort to do the job right!

Get the sellers to help, set up the open house to maximize potential, do 2 open houses in a day, give more than just a lame flyer, invite the neighbors, serve refreshments, and sell yourself.




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