How to Do an Open House: A Guide

ByIsidora Alimpic
March 01,2022

Quite a few real estate agents have given up on the open house concept and categorized it as an archaic selling method. On the other hand, those that still use this strategy say they’ve had great success with it. So which example should you follow? Well, in our opinion, an open house is not to be underestimated - if it’s done right. But simply letting people in the door isn’t going to do much. That’s why, today, we’re going to give you all the necessary tips and tricks on how to do an open house and do it well.

What Is an Open House?

Before we go into more detail, we’d like to clarify what exactly an open house is, to avoid any mix-ups. An open house is a period during which a property may be shown to any potential buyers or tenants, but it can also refer to the property itself.

There are also broker’s open houses, which, unlike their traditional counterparts, aren’t available to the general public. Instead, their goal is to enable real estate professionals to examine a property and assess if it would be of interest to their clients.

How To Do an Open House Successfully?

Do Your Research

There’s a lot you can learn from your competition, so take the time to visit open houses in the area where the property you're selling is located. If you have the time, you should go to the surrounding areas as well. While attending these open houses, pay attention to how the homes are staged, what features the real estate agent in charge is focusing on, and, most importantly, try to assess the buyers’ reactions.

Create a Description

The second step of preparing for an open house involves creating a property description sheet. This sheet should contain information such as the property’s address, asking price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, total square footage, photos of the interior and exterior, as well as anything else that could be relevant to potential buyers. Make sure all the information you list is correct, because errors could make you look unprofessional; as someone new to the world of real estate, you can’t afford to make a bad first impression.

Stage the Property

You’ve most likely heard of this term, but if you haven’t, know that staging is the process of preparing a property for sale. Before hosting an open house, you need to make it look as appealing as possible to the majority of your prospective buyers. You should focus on cleaning and decluttering the space, as well as removing any personal items such as photos, monogrammed towels, and personal knickknacks. You may also need to replace some of your old appliances.

Inform People

We’ve reached what’s perhaps the crucial part of this entire process: Getting people informed and interested in your open house. If you’re well-connected, this shouldn’t pose much of a problem. There are numerous excellent text marketing apps you can use to send out a text blast and notify all your prospects. However, you’ll have to resort to more elaborate open house ad ideas if you’re short on contacts. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, 93% of all home buyers use the internet as their primary source of information regarding real estate. Therefore, your advertising efforts need to be aimed at:

  • Social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the most obvious choices, but seeing as how immensely popular TikTok has become, you might want to consider using that as well.
  • Real estate websites: Your open house advertisement should be listed on at least one or two real estate websites. We recommend  Zillow and Trulia, since they are among the most visited.
  • Multiple listing services: If you’re an agent, you might want to join an MLS. MLSs are networks that enable brokers and agents to exchange data about properties for sale. 
  • Your own website: Out of all the things we’ve listed so far, building a website isn’t among the most important conditions you need for a successful open house. However, if you’re planning on further pursuing a career in real estate, you should definitely think about it, especially considering the fact that, nowadays, there are numerous affordable and easy-to-use website builders available, such as Wix and Squarespace.
  • Video sharing websites: More and more agents have begun filming video tours and posting them on YouTube and similar sites. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving people a preview of the property could actually get them to come see it in person.

In addition to the internet-related advertising methods, you can also print open house flyers and distribute them at gyms, grocery stores, and large workplaces, and put up a “For sale” sign in front of the property.

Be a Good Host

You’ll need to be both friendly and professional. Keep in mind that your goal isn’t to make the property seem perfect - there’s no such thing - but to point out the features that make it stand out from the competition.

After you’ve shown the buyers around the home, be prepared to answer any questions they may have about it and leave them enough time to explore it independently. In addition to that, try to find out about other open house listings they are looking at.

You should remember to put out some refreshments as well – cookies and bottled water are the safest options. Some agents serve alcohol to get a better turnout, but we'd advise against that, since your focus should be on attracting serious customers, not anyone who just wants to take advantage of the free drinks.

Lastly, make sure that every visitor fills out the sign-in sheet. Their contact information is vital for the next step in this “How to Do an Open House” guide.

Stay in Touch

You should never forget to send a “thank you” email or text to the people that visited your open house. Not only is it polite, but it will also enable people who may not have picked up one of your flyers or descriptions to get in touch with you. The message should include a link to your web page or ad.

During the following week, you should call every one of your visitors and ask them if they are interested in the home and have any additional questions about it. If they are disinterested, thank them for stopping by your open house showing and use the opportunity to hear their opinions on how you could make the property more attractive to future potential buyers.

Those serious about a career in real estate can benefit from getting a good piece of customer relationship management software. In the beginning, you probably won’t need it as much, but as you gain more contacts, you’ll see that developing a relationship with them will get increasingly harder if you don’t enlist some help to keep track of all the information.

When to Host an Open House?

Scheduling your open house at the right time can make the difference between two visitors and twenty. People tend to have more free time on weekends, but the best time for an open house depends on the area in which the showing is being held.

In metro areas, you don’t want to organize an open house too late in the day, since the heavy afternoon traffic will most likely discourage many from coming. You should be fine if you choose any time slot between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Setting a time in the suburbs is less tricky. Our suggestion would be to let people enjoy their mornings and host your open house between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Although it may seem like a fun idea, avoid the temptation of holding an open house on a public holiday. Few will want to go through the effort of finding the time to drop by. Another thing that you should remember is that you will almost certainly need to organize several open houses to get the best possible offers. When planning several showings, sticking to a schedule will help you keep track of everything you need to do and make things less confusing for your potential customers.

Note that, unlike standard open houses, broker’s open houses are typically held midweek, since agents are more available during those days.

Should You Hold an Open House?

Now that we’ve explained how to host an open house, let’s discuss whether you should actually do it.

Pros:

  • Exposure: Open houses are a terrific way to publicize a property. They may not lead to a direct sale every time, but sometimes the hardest part of selling a home is making people aware of it. To help with that, you should make use of flyers and internet ads to attract attention to the actual event, and then put in plenty of open house advertising effort to maintain buyer interest while they’re on the property and afterward.
  • Attracts inexperienced buyers: A lot of first-time homebuyers don’t know where to start their home-buying process, which is why they will commonly attend open houses to ask a real estate agent for advice, see what’s out there, and perhaps even learn from other visitors.
  • Networking: Potential buyers aren’t the only visitors you should expect at your showing. In most cases, you’ll also find real estate brokers and agents there too. Not only can they offer you useful open house tips, but they might actually have one or several clients who might be interested in your property.
  • Lack of pressure: During private viewings, buyers can feel pressured into making a purchase, while an open house enables them to explore the home in a relaxed environment. Keep in mind that, to create such an atmosphere, you mustn’t be trying to market the home too aggressively.
  • Convenience: If you time your open house right, you could get plenty of potential buyers who just happened to be passing by at the time of the showing and see your open house sign. On top of that, not everyone is a huge fan of technology, and many people still prefer to experience things first-hand instead of through a virtual tour, for example.

Cons:

  • Time-consuming: Whether you’ve recently become a real estate agent or you’ve decided to sell your home on your own, keep in mind that marketing, preparing, and presenting a property takes a significant amount of time and research.
  • Low selling chances: As we’ve already mentioned, many real estate agents don’t believe that open houses work. The truth is that most serious prospective buyers will usually opt for a private viewing instead of a group one.
  • Security risks: Unfortunately, one of the main downsides of an open house event is that criminals often use them to explore a property without raising suspicion or being supervised. The odds of a post-open-house break-in increase in situations when the home is vacant. What’s more, you’ll have to look out for any attempts of theft during the event as well, as large crowds make it nearly impossible to find the culprit afterward.
  • Hobbyists and curious neighbors: For some, occasionally visiting open houses is a kind of hobby, especially when high-end homes are concerned. While conducting your open house follow-up, you might also discover that some of the people you had met were just inquisitive neighbors who wanted to compare the property to their own. Obviously, none of these individuals will be interested in making a purchase, and they aren’t very useful as future contacts either.
FAQ
What do you do at an open house?

An open house is an opportunity to examine a property you may be interested in purchasing. During this event, a real estate agent or the homeowner will tell you about the home, and you can also ask them for any additional information you’d like to know. You can also use this time to mingle and listen to the experiences of the other open house guests.

Who can host an open house?

Real estate agents, realtors (active members of the National Association of Realtors), real estate brokers (real estate agents with additional training), and even homeowners themselves can host open houses.

Do you knock on the door at an open house?

Unless there is a visible note instructing you to do so, there is no need for you to knock upon arriving at an open house. When you enter the home, you should try to introduce yourself to the agent, but if they are busy, just fill out the open house sign-in sheet, pick up a property description flyer, and start your own tour.

Can you make an offer at an open house?

Yes, people make offers at open houses, especially when the property is in high demand. If you plan on doing this, you should make sure to get as much information as you possibly can during the showing. However, if you’re not in a rush and it doesn’t seem like the home will get snatched away, consider simply expressing your interest to the real estate agent during the event and sending your offer after you’ve thought it through at home.

Are open houses successful?

The “do open houses work” question is among the most debated topics among real estate agents. Some will tell you that they don’t, while others will tell you the opposite. In our opinion, the answer depends greatly on what you wish to accomplish by hosting one. If you want exposure and wish to make new professional contacts, you could probably benefit from holding such an event.

What's the best day for an open house?

Saturdays and Sundays are undeniably the best days for organizing an open house. People typically aren’t as busy with work and their kids’ activities during the weekend as they are on weekdays. You can read our “How to Do an Open House” guide if you’d like to know more about holding one and the perfect times to do it.

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