Making an Open House Excellent

Real Estate Agent with Re/Max

I recently held an open house at one of my listing here in the Western New York area.  The response was great from prospective buyers coming through the door to see this wonderful home.  One of the things that I was so proud of is that I had a buyer say to me "What a wonderful presentation for an open house!"  Of course this made me feel really good about the job that I had done.  I have had another agent who recently attended one of my open houses and he remarked to me that I had done open houses totally different than any other agent that he had come across.  He asked my about what my thoughts were concerning about open houses being a waste of time from the realtor's perspective, so I told him.

I have had some great success stories while conducting open houses on listings.  The average realtor makes up some brochures on regular computer paper sometimes using the MLS for presentation.  I had found that this was a turn off to both buyer and seller, because in my thoughts I knew there had to be a better way to present properties to the public than this.  I wanted my presentation to reflect my thoughts on how I consider myself as a business person.  I wanted as close to perfection as I could get.  The response I get is outstanding appreciation. 

When preparing a brochure for an open house there are several things I take into account:
* What time of the year is it? 
* Is there a holiday around the corner that begs attention?
* What can I do as an agent to make my presentation EXCELLENT?
* Do I want a brochure that going in the garbage can as soon as possible or do I want that brochure to be so good that people will hate to throw them away?

Here's a tip: Use some nice heavy paper that's going to feel like you've handed the buyer something tangible.  Make us brochures that include some nice pictures of the interior and exterior of the home that reflect the features that are of interest.  Include a presentation that reflects the time of the year, a holiday, or just something fun that stands out.  I recently used card stock and planted the pictures that I wanted to use amidst daffodiles to reflect the spring season.  When buyers have that type of brochure in their hands they will want to keep it.  It will make them feel a little unsure about throwing away such a grand work of art. 
You will also be promoting yourself as a good listing agent in representing your seller with Excellence.  You know that some of those buyers walking through those doors have houses that they may have to sell.  Make an impression on them!  What you can do for one seller you can do for another and they will see this.

Other open house tips that will make a difference in presenting your listing:

Always sign the buyer in; don't let them sign themselves in.  Stand as close as possible to the door that they are entering.  Don't let them come in wander around; remember this is not your house; it belongs to your client.  Sometimes I have had a line up at the door getting names; you've got time and so do they if they are really interested in seeing the house.   If they are just there because they're a nosey neighbor or in the off chance they think they can case the property they will feel a little more intimidated when YOU are writing down their information.  If they don't want to give you their information ask them to leave; they have no intention of buying this house and are there for other reasons.  If their conscience is clear they will have no problem letting you know who they are, what they're looking for, and why they stopped in.  It also gives you the opportunity to interact with a prospective buyer.  Of course, we always ask if they are working with an agent and let it lay right there.  If the line gets long and after I've gotten their name I will tell them to take a look through the house and then get some other information from them such as how long they've been looking for a home, what kind of house they're looking for, etc.   I get their email address, phone numbers, etc. if I feel that they are worthy of a good professional real estate agent.

Give your seller some tips:  the first thing I tell them is to not be there.  When the owner decides to stick around when an open house is going on then buyers will feel intimidated about walking through someone elses house while they are present.  They may also feel like they need to interogate the seller; we don't want that!  We are the professionals here.  Other things that I like to inform the seller of is to have all medications, knives, scissors, etc out of the reach of buyers and their children.  Keep it as safe as possible.  I also tell them that "neat and clean" will sell a house.  If a house looks good, smells good, and there is a good atmosphere it will set the stage for great presentation.  Adding some vases of flowers on the table, potted plants on the stoop, nice fragrant candles, and the sounds of soft music are also some welcoming features that make potential buyers invision the house for themselves.  Oh, a plate of cookies is a nice addition as well and the kids love it.

Further suggestions:  make sure all the lights are on; if there aren't enough light then open the shades and the drapes ~ Let the Sunshine in!  Make sure that the open house signs are in a visible location and that there are enough signs to guide the buyer to the open house.  If it is raining make sure that there is a place to either wipe shoes off when entering or add a "Please remove your shoes" to the entry door.  This makes the seller feel confident they will not arrive home to muddy floors and a mess that they don't want to clean up. 

Bottom line: take care of yourself, take care of the house and make a Statement Of Excellence!

Comments (4)

Angelia Garcia
Pure Realtors - Dallas, TX

All good points.  I have had three open houses on one of my listings.  I thought I had a buyer each time but it did not go that way.  The home is very nice, clean, vacant.  It will expire soon and I don't think the seller wants to relist.  Oh well. 

Apr 15, 2009 07:29 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

What an excellent post -- I hope everyone reads this.    You are clearly a professional real estate agent!

Apr 15, 2009 07:29 AM
Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

Karen, Congratulations on your successful opening houses. Thank you for the tips. Presentation goes a long way.

Please remember me if you learn of anyone moving to "The OC" and I will do the same!

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors           

(949) 753-7900

Apr 15, 2009 08:04 AM
Sharon Kolb
Atlanta Decatur Homes - Atlanta, GA
Broker - Atlanta Decatur Homes

Karen -

Good tips for Open Houses -- I'm one of the few agents in our area that actually enjoys having them.  For me, it's an opportunity to represent my Seller, present their home in the best possible way, and to meet and greet neighbors for future sales.


Apr 15, 2009 12:05 PM