How to Conduct Successful Open Houses

successful open housesOpen houses are more than just neighborhood snoop fests. They can become a dependable source for leads for other listings. Plus, you might actually find a buyer for the house! Some real estate agents do not like hosting open houses. However, remember that open houses provide opportunities to generate leads and find buyers. Follow these six tips for conducting successful open houses.

1. Select the best house

The best homes generating the most traffic for their open houses are typically the newest listings at a reasonable price in a good neighborhood and easily accessed from main streets.

Research days and hours other open houses happen in the neighborhood. If most occur every Sunday between 1:00pm and 3:00pm, consider hosting yours at 3:00pm to 5:00pm so you are not competing with them. At the end of the day, if buyers are still looking, being last may be an advantage.

2. Use good advertising methods

Advertising is key when it comes to holding successful open houses. In the weeks and days leading up to the event, use the following open house advertising methods:

  • Send invitations to the neighbors encouraging them to bring friends they would like to have as their neighbors.
  • Advertise open houses on popular real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, your MLS, and portals on Google and Yahoo.
  • Post your open houses on, which lists open houses including sales price with directions and maps.
  • Advertise in real estate blogs and forums and post to Twitter.
  • Offer finger foods and refreshments to entice more visitors.

3. Successful open houses require preparation

Before the open house, ask your seller to organize all rooms, trim the shrubs, shampoo rugs, check for foul smells, and clean everything. During the open house, have your sellers vacate the home and take all their pets with them. Buyers need to picture themselves living in the house, which is difficult with the homeowners around.

On open house day, come early to open the curtains, turn on the lights in dark rooms, and put on soft, relaxing background music. For the duration, take down anything that could be controversial, like a photo of a politician or an animal’s head on a wall. Put down all toilet seats and remove carpeted seat covers to avoid distractions. Remove area rugs to show the bare floors so buyers can see the full space. And hide all pet items like litter boxes and food bowls.

Place signs throughout the house pointing out special features like “Gas fireplace, push this button,” “See the hardwood floors,” and “Walk into the walk-in closet.” This helps when asking visitors about the home’s qualities after viewing.

4. Security is a priority

Security is another important element involved in conducting successful open houses. Letting strangers into a home requires extra security measures. For example, some agents recommend mandatory sign-in before access and showing a driver’s license to avoid a fake name. Here are some good rules of thumb for open house security:

  • No one should be using a bathroom in an open house, which is not a gas station.
  • Never allow closed doors between you and a stranger.
  • Make sure there is nothing worth taking in the medicine cabinet.
  • Securely lock up all jewelry, cash, cell phones, electronics, and other valuable items.

5. Provide information packages

The kitchen or dining room table is a good place to get a visitor’s attention with additional information. You can put several things here, like property details, community brochures, and information on local schools. Attach a bold label (24 to 48 font size) with your contact information on each item.

This information builds your credibility as a good resource about the home and the neighborhood.

6. Engaging with visitors is key

When holding a real estate open house, it is essential to engage with the potential buyers who come through. Follow these steps when interacting with open house visitors:

  • Welcome visitors at the door. Many real estate agents recommend locking the front door with a sign asking visitors to ring the doorbell. This gives you control, as you don’t want strangers walking around the house unannounced. This is also for your safety.
  • Thank them for coming.
  • Give them the property information packet.
  • While they are reading the information, talk about one or two special features of the home they should see.
  • Explain that additional information is available about the home on the kitchen table or in the dining room that may interest them.
  • Approach visitors at the end of their walk-through and ask if they have any questions. Gauge what they like or dislike. Make your approach cautiously so you don’t appear to be a pest. This is your last opportunity to engage with them face-to-face in order to make a good impression.

Here are the main questions you need your visitors to answer:

  • Are they interested in the house?
  • If not, what other homes may interest them? What types of properties are they seeking?
  • Are they interested in viewing other properties that may be a better fit?
  • Are they willing to make an appointment to discuss what interests them?

These tips should help you hold successful open houses where you can sell the home while also finding good buyers.

For additional advice on how to conduct successful open houses, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post: Tips for Successful Open House Advertising. And check out for more great resources.

About the author

Steven Rich, MBA has over three years of experience as a successful real estate agent. He was awarded the Top Condo Salesperson for two of those years by his real estate company. Steven has served as Associate Editor for a real estate magazine and is the author of a 104-page e-book on How to Buy, Develop, Lease, and Sell Real Estate.

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