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This ain’t your grandma’s open house

The common sense answer would be to sell the house, but that is not really the case. Although it would be lovely to hold an open house and have the right buyer blaze in with check book in hand, that scene is mostly fantasy.

Why do we do open houses?. The real reason we do open houses it to generate leads.

An open house used to be a boring, formal event where the agent put an ad in the paper, a sign out front, and hoped people would tour the house and buy it.You could tell the agent was bored and stiff and probably didn’t want to be there.  Not anymore! Keep reading for some really fresh ideas on updating that old fashioned  open house into one that ain’t like the one your grandma did!

Your listings are your leverage 

When you are fortunate enough to get a listing, I hope you recognize the power it holds. In addition to giving you a potential sale, it provides you with an opportunity to market yourself and generate leads. If you don’t have a listing yet, offer to do an open house for another agent in your office, then follow the rest of the directions to help build your business.

Do you have trouble getting listings?  

Once you have this open house marketing system in place, you can mention it on listing appointments to help you land the listing. After you describe how you are going to market their open house, ask them what the other agents they met with plan to do.  What seller wouldn’t want this for their house? Land that listing!

Do right by your client for a win/win

The seller hired you to market and sell their property. The first thing you should do when you get the listing is schedule an open house. This will provide maximum exposure for the house and for you, creating a win/win. 

Let the neighbors know

As soon as you schedule the open house, you have the opportunity to go meet all the neighbors and invite them. You can print out invitations and pass them out to as many houses near the property as your budget and schedule allow.  Many neighbors are curious when a house hits the market but are too shy to come to the open since they aren’t in the market. 

I have had people slink in to opens and shyly admit that they are “just” nosy neighbors. Just?!?!  I want to go hug them and give them a beer!  I tell them that they are welcome in this open house and I am so glad they are there. I want every single neighbor to come!


  1. See what is going on in their area to get an idea of value
  2. Generate feedback on price and condition
  3. Provide valuable information about the area that I may not have already known or thought to ask about
  4. Have family or friends that might want to move to the area and buy this house
  5. Might be an interesting person that I get to meet
  6. Mention your name to people they know who are looking to buy or sell
  7. Have a house that they may want to sell at some point

Market the open house online

Use a photo of the property to create an online flyer that you can post all over social media. This will advertise your open house and will also gently remind everyone in your sphere that you are in real estate. It will help solidify your position as an expert in your market. You should also advertise it on all available channels like your MLS and company web site. 

Go live

Make your open house a live event on Facebook.  Use this amazing FREE tool to broaden your reach to the entire internet. Give something of value to your viewers in addition to the house tour. Get creative. Is there music? A crowd? A clown?  If so, get them on camera for your live broadcast. If not, have somevaluable information you can discuss during your live that viewers might not get elsewhere. It could be neighborhood stats, DIY staging tips, or a give away to a new business in town. Partner up with a local business and have them donate a free item to one of your viewers. Get people to watch and comment on your live broadcasts for a chance to win the prize. Do this consistently and see how fast your viewership goes up.

Send out an email blast

This is a great way to get the word out about your open house, gently get in front of your audience, provide them something of value (be sure to include several high quality photos #houseporn), show the seller that you are marketing their property, and position yourself as a listing agent. It is all connected and a great opportunity that you shouldn’t miss.

Point people in the right direction

The day of the open house, go out in the neighborhood and place as many signs as you can. Make sure they have arrows pointing them in the right direction. Some sign companies offer open house tent sign placement as a service. Check in your area to see what is available. 

It is also wise to have the time of the open to avoid confusion. I found a great source for open house signs  They are cheap and quick. Make sure to clear with your broker that your signs are in compliance with your local laws.  You can also add balloons to your signs for more attention. The goal is to get as many people in your open as possible, but there are other benefits as well.  Every person who walks past your sign sees your name and this is yet another opportunity to position yourself as a professional in your market!

Make it a party

I hope by now you are viewing the open house as an opportunity not a chore. Use this as a chance to make it fun and entice people to come. You can do the typical Saturday or Sunday. Be mindful of football schedules so you don’t compete with the game. In the summer, lots of people go away on the weekends so we do twilight open house on Thursdays and take advantage of the extra daylight. A good time seems to be right after work, so try the 5PM-7PM range. 

Have snacks on hand and drinks. Water is fine but wine or beer is finer:)  When you are getting started and on a low budget, see if you know anyone who would help cover the costs. Maybe you can invite a lender there and have her supply the refreshments in exchange for getting to meet potential clients.  Do you know a wine rep or a restaurant owner? They might want to donate food or drinks to advertise their business. Look at your sphere and see who you can network with. Get creative and find a way to make it happen.

Put down the wine, this is work

The wine and cheese are for your guests, so put that bottle down and get to work. Remember that when they leave, you get the leftovers! 

Make sure to have supplies and info on hand. Here is a starter list.

  1. Info sheet on the house
  2. Your business cards
  3. Disclosures required by law (In PA this is the Consumer Notice and the signed and completed Seller’s Disclosure)
  4. A sign in sheet
  5. Info on local small businesses 
  6. Neighborhood info
  7. Comps
  8. Pens or other give-aways with your contact info on them
  9. Feature cards throughout the home
  10. A sheet on financing options

Now that you have some ideas on how to plan your open house, come back for next week’s post on how to work your open house for maximum results. Open houses not only generate buyer leads, but if done properly, will position you as a listing agent and generate listing leads. Think big picture and make the open house not only work for your seller, but make it work for you!

I hope this post inspires you to Do you have a great open house marketing tip? I’d love for you to share some of your ideas below.