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Mar 1 2020

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41 Real Estate Open House Ideas People Love

Unique real estate open house ideas can be the key to a successful property showing and subsequent sale. To help make your open house a success, we asked leading real estate professionals for their best open house ideas. Their answers cover everything from cleaning and staging the house to more innovative ideas like hiring a drone banner to advertise your event.

The 41 best real estate open house ideas from the pros are:

1. Go Digital with an Online Open House Sign-In

If you have trouble reading your sign-in sheet after an open house, consider using an online sign-in process. Upon arriving at your open house, allow visitors to sign-in on your phone or tablet and have their information exported directly into your CRM. Open Home Pro, a Placester product, includes a digital sign-in sheet with customizable questions. Its lead management tool also allows you to record visitor notes and indicates which visitors don’t already have an agent. Placester also offers IDX websites, lead capture, and automated email marketing.

2. Engage with Your Visitors & Put Away the Phone

Gina Blancarte, Real Estate Agent, The Agency

The best and most treasured tip I can give is to put away your cell phone — out of view, either in your pocket or a drawer — and do not be on your computer. Think about it…when you arrive at an Open House as an agent and you see the hosting agent on their cell phone or computer, what is your first thought? Mine is that they would rather be somewhere else and are not totally interested in selling the house.

I understand there are exceptions. However, I’ve seen this become more than norm. Host an Open House with the intention of engaging EVERYONE who comes in with a smile on your face, eyes up, and armed with facts on the house you want to sell. Your attendees will appreciate your full attention.

3. Offer Your Visitors Food & Drinks

Matt McGee, Chief Marketing Officer, Cari McGee Real Estate Team

We had great success at a recent open house by turning it into an event — the main attraction (aside from the beautiful home) was that we hired a popular local food truck, and they parked out front. As people came inside and signed in, we gave them a coupon for a free lunch out at the food truck. It was unique and went over well — lots of good feedback.

4. Know Your Market Data Before Even Thinking About Hosting an Open House

Blake Ellis, Broker, Windermere Realty Trust

Before the open house, study up on competing listings so you can speak intelligently on the competition and recent sales. Also, since not everyone who comes through the property will be “the Buyer,” make sure to have printouts of all the competing listings in the immediate area so that in the event a potential buyer doesn’t have interest in the house that’s being held open, you can still potentially work with them on another of the homes they might be considering.

5. Send Postcards About Your Open House

Postcards remain a tried-and-true method of finding new real estate leads. In addition to showcasing properties, you can use postcards to announce your next real estate open house. ProspectsPLUS!® lets you print and mail beautiful real estate postcards with a variety of professionally-designed templates to choose from. You can market by neighborhood, subdivision, or demographic and schedule and track your mailings.

6. Build Your Contacts Without Flyers & Show Sheets

Kristina McCann, Broker Associate, Alain Pinel

My favorite open house tip (Realtor to Realtor) is NOT to provide flyers but to explain to clients/potential homebuyers that “these days, digital marketing packages are so robust, along with reports and disclosures” that it’s much better to email them. This way, I have increased (in a major way) information capture.

If a buyer is leery of providing the contact information, I tell them that I will either cc: their realtor or respect their privacy, but that this way they have a direct line to ask questions. I pick up more buyers to put in my drip system this way — when you “let” them take a flyer and walk out the door, they’re gone forever.

7. Schedule an Open House the Day the Listing Hits the Market

Mike Higgins, Real Estate Professional, Keller Williams Realty, Inc.

One strategy that has worked well for us is to put a lot of effort into marketing a home while it is still “Coming soon” and at the same time, market an open house for the same day it hits the market. In a market where homes are selling quickly and for top dollar, this could be a great strategy to generate buzz and get your sellers more money. Convenience is key, as most people work until early evening and getting a showing privately is tough. Then, if you can’t get in, oftentimes the home is sold.

An open house on the day you list allows those people to view the home quickly. It also shows those people that there is a lot of interest in the home and generates more ACTION versus just a bunch of lookers. This will ultimately lead to more offers, more competition, and a higher sale price for your sellers.

8. Open All the Curtains to Let the Light Shine In

Raena Janes, Real Estate Agent, RJ Homes

Tucson is home to some of the best views, and quite often they can be seen in every part of Tucson — and if they can, natural light is key to the homebuyer process. When we first arrive at the property, we walk through the home and take inventory of rooms to highlight with natural lighting. We find that the homebuyers generally embrace it because that’s what most people want. In most cases, Tucson weather is rather stagnant; we don’t really have to worry about the rain that often unless it’s monsoon. However, we still leave the blinds open. It can really transform a space even if the weather isn’t the best outside — ceiling lighting can only do so much.

9. Make Minor Renovations & Repairs Before Your First Open House

Julie Park, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Level Group

Most sellers and their brokers know the importance of cleaning and de-cluttering a home before listing it on the market, but I also stress the importance of making small home improvements to my clients. If the first things a buyer sees are outdated light fixtures, peeling paint and dirty windows, they can easily be put off and focus on how much work the property needs. Hiring a window cleaner, painting, and replacing light switches/outlets and fixtures are all relatively inexpensive ways to make a better first impression.

10. Use a CRM to Maintain Contact With Attendees

Nicholas Thomas, Fit Small Business

Looking for ways to keep track of open house attendees and turn them into sales? Use Freshsales, a CRM with easy-to-use tools, to store relevant contact information for visitors so that you can easily reach out and follow up. You can email and call directly from its platform, and automatically set reminders and schedule appointments when follow-up action is required. Freshsales even gauges buyer interest by tracking email opens and link clicks, so you can more efficiently tell which leads are worth nurturing and which ones are dead ends. Click here to start free.

11. Bundle Neighborhood Open Houses Together

Tre Pryor, Editor-in-Chief & Real Estate Expert, Louisville Real Estate

Our office has found greater success in getting three to five open houses scheduled together in the same neighborhood. This way, all of the agents go to work promoting an “event” rather than a single open house. Of course, each home needs to as welcoming as possible. Many opt for professional staging. This strategy works wonders too: faster sales mean happier clients!

12. Use Open House Signs Strategically

Since most of the neighbors probably aren’t following your listings on Zillow or your email list, the only way they’ll know you’re having an open house is to tell them. One strategy is to knock on doors or make phone calls to invite the neighbors, but some find this invasive and some neighborhoods don’t even allow it.

Instead, use open house signs strategically to draw traffic to your real estate open house. Here’s how: Use multiple types of signs that are visible and legible from a distance (at least 30 feet), and place directional signs to advertise in a five-block radius to reach a wider audience. If you want to learn more, check out our in-depth guide to open house signs.

13. Depersonalize the House

Jamie Klingman, MBA, Broker Realtor®, The Klingman Group, LLC

Depersonalize! Having a home that is too full of personal items makes it hard for buyers to see themselves living there. That also means not having underwear lying around (even in bathrooms!), no dirty dishes in the sink, etc. The idea is to have a vibe that it is easy and comfortable to live in the listing.

For more information on how to depersonalize a house before an open house, check out our guide to home staging.

14. Do a Walk-Through

Fallon Washington, P.A., Realtor Associate, The Keyes Company

The first thing I always do is a drive-through of the neighborhood and a walk-through of the property itself. I try to get a feel for the neighborhood’s personality and what type of buyer would find value living there. This also helps me develop a target audience and keywords for social media marketing of the open house. My walk-through of the property allows me to stage it and determine what I need to bring to the open house to make it more appealing to guests, be it flowers, candles, etc.

15. Promote Your Open House on Your Zillow Page — Free

When you claim a property listing on Zillow, you can include details about your real estate open house at no additional cost. However, when you join Zillow Premier Agent, you can also crowd out the competition by making yourself the exclusive agent for your listing. Plus, you’ll show up on listings that belong to other agents and expand your reach.

16. Use This Handy Checklist for Your Open House

Instead of pulling your hair out the day of your open house, use this handy checklist. Make the most of your open house by choosing the right day and time and promoting it with eye-catching marketing materials. Prepare for the big day by putting away valuables, setting the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and taking care of any lingering maintenance issues. After the open house, follow up with visitors to see if they have any questions to get honest feedback.

17. Spruce Up the Front Door to Make a Great First Impression

Marni Epstein-Mervis, Founder and Principal, STRUKTR Studios

Simple updates to your front door can make a huge difference. It’s the first thing buyers see — an inviting door calls people in and sets the tone for the rest of the home. Good first impressions go a long way and can result in a relatively large return on investment.

18. Rent a Drone to Hover an Open House Banner

Emile L’Eplattenier, Managing Editor, The Close

Drone advertising is a trendy and eye-catching way to attract attention to your next open house. To take advantage of this exciting open house idea, hire a drone company to attach professional banners to drones and fly them above your listing or in a visible part of your market. Try aerial advertising to increase traffic to your properties and stand out from other listing agents in your farm area.

19. Stage Like a Pro

It’s no secret that a well-staged home can help potential buyers feel comfortable and envision themselves in the space. To create a welcoming environment, make sure that walls and fixtures are updated and that clutter is under control. Then, stage each room with furniture that makes the purpose of the space clear.

If you’re not sure how to stage a house, hire a professional stager who can choose the perfect furniture and decor for the space. Alternatively, if you don’t have room in your budget, consider virtual staging, which can turn empty listing photos into a beautiful image of what a home can look like.

20. Invite Local “In the Market” Buyers & Sellers to Your Open House

One way to expand the reach of your real estate open house and increase the likelihood of a sale is to invite as many hot leads as possible. Market Leader owns HouseValues.com — a lead generation site where potential sellers can see how much their house is worth. Leads from this site are extremely sought after and sold out in many ZIP codes. Market Leader also generates buyer leads, making it a great way to find people to attend your open house. Check out Market Leader now!

21. Use Handouts to Keep Buyers Informed

Providing handouts at an open house is a great way to share detailed property information and keep a house top-of-mind with potential buyers. Use eye-catching handouts to give buyers information about the surrounding neighborhood, including a Walk Score, proximity to bike paths and public transportation, and details that will help buyers envision themselves living in the home.

An open house brochure is also a great opportunity to provide buyers with information regarding home ownership and the mortgage process. You can also include specific details about likely mortgage payments and contact information for a trusted mortgage broker. Finally, include a list of vendors for finishes and furnishings so buyers don’t feel daunted by the idea of decoration their new home.

22. Don’t Forget About Security

The idea of letting strangers into their home can be extremely intimidating for many sellers. Taking the necessary steps to secure a home during an open house will put your clients at ease and create a safe environment for potential buyers. To prepare a home for an open house, urge the sellers to remove jewelry, watches, firearms, prescription drugs, and other valuables from the house or hide them in a safe location.

In addition, schedule your open house during the day and limit access points within the house. By restricting visitors to one entry point and staffing the open house with enough agents, you can control how many people are in the house and where they are at any time. Once the open house is over, double-check all windows and doors to make sure they are still locked to prevent someone from breaking into the home at a later time.

23. Remove All Reminders of Former Owners & Their Pets

John B. Thomas, Jr., Associate Broker, eXp Realty

What can you do to make the house look better? Make sure it’s SUPER clean, personal photos removed, and smells good. Turn on every light and open the blinds. Remove the pets. Never let strangers walk through the house unattended.

24. Consider Having a Themed Open House

Judy Chin, Real Estate & Home Enthusiast, RE/MAX Signature

These days, hosting an open house is about an experience, even though the prospective homebuyer may not have the opportunity to spend too much time at any given open house. They’d like to maximum their Sundays and preview as many as possible.

For example — if the home is Spanish Hacienda style — why not present delicious tapas? Playing light music ( e.g., bossa nova) also cheers up the preview time too.

25. Leverage the Power of Video

Marc Prosser, Publisher, Fit Small Business

Instead of just emailing prospects pictures of your open house, why not send them a video tour? BombBomb is an easy-to-use tool that helps you create videos, insert them directly into your emails, and track who watches them. Using videos in emails has resulted in over 80 percent more replies and responses for BombBomb’s clients. Because the video is not an attachment, your video message actually gets delivered and seen. Click here for a free demo.

26. Don’t Forget Small Local Newspapers

Nikole Giletti, Realtor, Pacific Sotheby’s Realty

Many realtors ignore small local papers as they think they’ll get more bang for their buck online. While this is true to some extent, small local newspapers are often circulated widely, and their readership usually hits the prime homeowner demographic. Many retirees, for example, read local papers every day.

27. Bring in a Housekeeper or Professional Organizer

Brian Horan, Real Estate Broker, Home Buyers Marketing II, Inc.

If it’s tenant occupied, then the agent can offer to bring in a housekeeper. Even if it’s not tenant occupied, the cost of a housekeeper and you paying for that can really go a long way in the eyes of the seller. It shows you are looking to make a good impression on the market. It can also help a not-so-organized seller feel a little more organized since you’ve taken over a skill set that they may be lacking.

28. Hold an Agents-Only Open House

Troy Balakhan, Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate, Keller Williams Jupiter

Build a list of every agent who has sold a house in the neighborhood in the past year, as well as all the active buyer’s agents in the area, and call them to personally invite them to the event. Have refreshments and hors-d’oeuvres ready for your guests. This leaves a lasting positive impression.

29. Be an Event Planner

Melissa Stevens, President, Stevens Group

We try to make open houses fun and unusual. In two weeks, we will host an open house that will feature an author doing a book signing, food from two top restaurants, pop-up shopping, and more. The home (which is new) will be staged with furniture from a well-known antique/estate sale business. Our goal is to draw people to the home and give them a reason to tour all the rooms and linger. We have also partnered with a media partner for pre- and post-event social coverage.

30. Use a Virtual Tour to Attract Buyers Who Can’t Attend Your Open House

An open house is free publicity to potential buyers who visit the listing and to potential buyers who aren’t able to attend. Give those buyers an open house experience by creating a virtual tour of the listing with Matterport 3D technology. A virtual tour will also give those who attended the open house another chance to revisit the property, solidifying the deal.

Learn more about how Matterport can take your business to the next level by downloading their free eBook: “Top 10 Ways to Use VR to Win Listings in Real Estate.”

31. Harness the Power of Facebook Live

Eric Sztanyo, Realtor, Team Sztanyo – Keller Williams Advisors Realty

Beyond promoting the open house on Facebook prior to the open house, run a Facebook Live Stream at your open house. This is a GREAT way to get eyeballs and activity. Doing a live stream while there are other people in the house viewing it is an excellent opportunity! It builds momentum and scarcity into anyone who views the video.

The odds are you won’t find a buyer for your house during the open house itself. Generally, you are gathering buyer leads during the open house. However, if you use the opportunity to create the video and market it online, your reach is compounded exponentially! Then, you can boost the video on Facebook for even more reach.

32. Make Sure the House Is Ready for Its Close Up

Ryan Wilkerson, Realtor/Partner, SURE Group RE/MAX SAILS

Turn all lights on and open all blinds/curtains and remove everything from countertops (not only does it look cleaner, but it gives the appearance of a larger space, which is very important in areas like the kitchen).

It should go without saying, BUT the home must be entirely clean, organized and tidy (beds made, junk should be organized or thrown away). A seller’s home is their home until the day they decide to list. Once that decision is made, the home becomes a product — a product that is going to be consumed by the marketplace, so you always want to ensure you put your best foot forward.

33. Create a Single Property Website

John Bodrozic, Co-Founder, HomeZada

Most people, when they visit an open house, are pulling out their mobile phone to take more photos of the house to remember/evaluate it later in the day or a day or two later. In addition, buyers usually end up visiting three to five houses on the same day, so how do they remember your house versus the other ones they saw?

A good marketing strategy is to create a property website where you already have photos of every room in the house from multiple angles, as well as close-up photos of all the interior and exterior features of the home. Once you have this, then provide a simple flyer with a QR code / short URL link as an easy way for visitors to the open house to see all the photos, especially after they leave the house.

34. Use a Sign-Up to Generate Leads

Edwin C., Owner, Cash the Checks

Use the “Open Home Pro” app for iPad to have people sign-in as they come into the house. The app doesn’t require Wi-Fi, so you can take it from open house to open house. Agents can generate valuable leads by collecting the names and contact information of everyone who comes to look at the house. You can make the sign-up as simple as first name and phone number, but you can also add other questions as well. A follow-up call can be useful to determine their interest level and to gain valuable feedback on the property.

35. Get Advice from Those You Trust

Lauretta Wright, Owner, Home and Horizon

If money’s a bit short, then some sage advice is to invite three of your closest friends/family to your home to tell you what they really think. Get them to pretend they are a potential buyer and walk around the property, speaking their thoughts aloud and asking questions potential buyers might ask. Follow them around with a notepad and jot down anything they say.

Make sure that you have a chat with them beforehand, encouraging them to be completely honest in their thoughts — from what your house smells like to removing a hideous picture from a wall. It helps if they walk around independently of each other; if they all mention the same things, you know you definitely need to take action.

35. Beautify the Landscaping

A home’s yard is the first thing potential homebuyers see at an open house. What’s more, buyers are likely to decide whether to attend your open house based solely on the home’s curb appeal. To ensure you attract serious buyers to your open house, make sure your sellers take steps to beautify their property with landscaping.

In addition to keeping the lawn mowed and the flower beds watered, touch up mulch to give the yard a fresh appearance. If the house has any water features, make sure they’re clean and operational. Finally, power wash surfaces, maintain irrigation systems and repair outdoor faucets that may draw a buyer’s eye to potential plumbing issues.

36. Let Buyers Imagine the Space

Daniela Andreevska, Marketing Director, Mashvisor

Give guests some space: While you want to be available to answer any questions that homebuyers have, you also want to make sure to provide them with some time and space to take a detailed look at the property and start picturing it as their own home. Don’t get stuck to the potential buyers and prevent them from looking around and getting a feel for the place.

38. Master the Art of Feeling Good

Maryann Reid, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, LG Fairmont

I always buy donuts. There’s something about the sweet smell that gets people to linger and feel like it’s their home. I put them where I want the clients to hang around. Most of the time, they are in the kitchen, and the kitchen may be remodeled or look especially good. At other times, I put them in the living/dining areas if I want them to pay extra close attention to that part of the home. Before an open house, I do a “coming soon” post on social media to build buzz, invite the residents on the block, and also invite friends in my sphere of influence who can help spread the word about the property or be a potential buyer. I don’t stage, but I do master the art of feeling good, and that’s welcomed in the stressful process of buying a home.

39. Schedule Strategically

Jonathan Self, Realtor, Center Coast Realty

The first thing I typically do to prepare for an open house is take a look at competing houses in the area that buyers might also be interested in and see if they’re holding an open house. My logic is to avoid completely overlapping times with any of these open houses when scheduling. Generally, I’ll try to schedule before any other open houses. I want people to come to my open house first, because after a few rounds of open houses in the morning and then lunch, sometimes an open house in the afternoon can be forgotten about, or the buyers don’t have the energy to go to more, or they find something they think is better without seeing mine, etc., so I usually schedule them in the morning.

40. Keep the Scent Neutral

Did you know that one out of three people doesn’t like scented products? That includes air fresheners, candles, incense, and potpourri. Instead of masking odors with plug-ins, warming oils, or burning candles, invest in carpet shampoo and be sure to air out the home for a few hours before your open house.

41. Remember to Clean and Organize the Closets

Designed to Sell designer Lisa LaPorta recommends cleaning and organizing the closets. No matter how hard you try to stop them, buyers (sometimes even buyer’s agents) will open the closets. Instead of letting them drown in an avalanche of boxes when they open that closet door, make sure all closets (this includes hall closets, bedroom closets, kids’ closets, linen closets — ALL CLOSETS) are clean and organized.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re planning an open house or preparing for a busy selling season, it’s important for your properties to shine. Make an impact by advertising your open house, prepping the house, and following up with potential buyers. Use our list of open house ideas to plan an event that impresses clients and attracts serious buyers.

About the Author

Kiah Treece

Kiah Treece is a staff writer at Fit Small Business. As an MS/JD, Kiah was formerly an environmental scientist and attorney specializing in regulatory compliance and real estate development. During law school, she served as an editor of the Law Review and edited manuscripts for faculty and students around the world. When not writing for Fit Small Business, Kiah enjoys yoga, crafting, and working on the farm she shares with her husband and pet pig.


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