How to Work an Open House

Real Estate Agent with The Corcoran Group

This is an encore and revised post that I wrote a few years ago. Since it is a new year it is a good time to prepare for successful open houses.  I realize in some markets open houses don't work. This post is about working an open house not whether they work or not.


How to Work

an Open House


Treat it like a business meeting.  Dress like you’re making a presentation…because you are.  It’s irrelevant what the list price is on the property; all sellers—of mansions or of studios—deserve to have a professional represent their home.

Mitchell Hall, Associate Broker, The Corcoran Group

You look great…but how does the property look?  Did you check it out prior to 15 minutes before the Open House?  Have you had a heart-to-heart with the seller about children’s toys, etc?  Does the place need staging? Have these conversations early in your relationship with your seller — they’re hiring you to get the highest price possible for their home and that may very well mean conversation about clutter. Display fresh flowers and perhaps aroma therapy if needed. An ipad is a great tool to use at open houses too.

Do you have all the information you need?  Do you have the answers to all the anticipated questions...and then some?  Of course you know about the property and the usuals but how about comps, the closest bus stop, the nearest dry cleaners and other relevant info that sets you apart?  You may be used to seeing a Purchase/Mortgage Cost Analysis but it may be new and valuable information to the buyers visiting your open house.  It will also position you as a resource who can assist them in all of the aspects of purchasing a property—which is good “branding” of you, the agent, against the competition. 


mortgage info

Then, can you take the information just one step farther? What else can you provide that will educate your visitors: maps of the neighborhood, articles about the area or the building’s historic significance, a list of the closest restaurants, buy vs rent analysis, a hand-out of websites that provide information useful to a buyer?

Potential purchasers will remember you as the broker with all of the answers.  However, potential sellers will be impressed as well—and one never knows when a visitor is NOT a purchaser but a potential seller who is “auditioning” brokers for the sale of their home!


Open House Fact Sheet


Use marketing materials, but make sure they’re perfect. 

Was the copy proofed?  Is the floorplan photocopied upside down on the back of your handout? 

Remember, this is the information a potential buyer takes away from the open house for reference, so it is a continual reminder of the property and must be perfect.

Try to sign the person in personally.  I use an iPad with Open House Pro App. In extremely busy circumstances, this is not always possible but when time allows, it’s a great way to begin a conversation as well as to get complete and (more) accurate information

Ask why they chose to visit your open house specifically.  The visitor had a choice of dozens of open houses to visit on that particular day and they chose yours.

If you get the answer to this question, you usually get about 80% of what they’re looking for in their new home. You can then tailor your presentation of your exclusive to their response.  

In most cases, talk less and listen more.  Most people can determine it’s the kitchen without having that pointed out to them, yet you hear that type of thing over and over again. 

 If you hear “view,” you might stand by the window, subtly directing their attention to the lovely panorama outside.  You don’t necessarily have to actually point at things to get people to notice them—and if you’re not talking but are listening, you’ll hear what they want to see.  

If you have to say something, try putting even that in the form of a question:  “I see you’re heading directly to the kitchen—do you like to cook?”  It’s more personable to get them to say something about themselves rather than about “their search.”  After all, they’re buying a place to live, not just four walls, and how they see themselves using a space will determine whether or not this is the home for them.

Follow up. Contact them.  If they provided you with an email address, you can follow up unobtrusively. It doesn’t have to be a “so what did you think?” follow up.  If it’s your exclusive (dependent upon what you found out in your conversation with them), send them some information on the neighborhood, some information on the history of the building or other non-threatening, non-hard sell material, along with an offer to answer any questions they might have about the apartment, the market, etc. 

If you’ve determined that they’re not interested in the home you’re representing, (based on comments they’ve made or other qualifying factors, since obviously your first duty is to the property you are representing), send them other listings with a cover note.  “At the open house today you said you realized you really need that third bedroom so my two bedroom isn’t going to work for you.  However, here are some other homes in the neighborhood that have that same great view, and three bedrooms. I’d be happy to arrange for you to see any of these that catch your eye.  Are you available in the evening or do weekends work best for you?”  End the inquiry with a question that CANNOT be answered yes or no.

Timing is Everything. Try different times, have shorter open houses, try evening open houses. Two hour maximum.

Remember to report.  Naturally, your sellers want information on attendance and feedback on their home, but can you take it one step further?  Perhaps you can share anecdotal information with them and then show how you’ve incorporated that information into points made on future marketing materials. 

"You and your listing have to stand out from the crowd" Barbara Corcoran (Founder of The Corcoran Group)



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Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Great solid blog post about preparing for a successful open house.

I love open houses, but price and location are what bring visitors.

Jan 16, 2015 03:13 PM #51
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

I try to have sample marketing materials about me and my company there for people to see since my objective is two fold:  Sell the listing & Sell my services.

Jan 16, 2015 04:13 PM #52
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for sharing the great tips for hosting an open house. Have a good day.

Jan 16, 2015 08:53 PM #53
Nedy Blanchard
Allison James Estates & Homes - Kissimmee, FL
GRI, CDPE, SFR, Broker

I read your post with interest and picked up new information. Thank you very much for sharing.

Jan 17, 2015 12:38 AM #54
Barb Hutchinson, Fruitland Idaho - Payette County homes and real estate
Silverhawk Realty - Payette, ID

Great tips!  Thanks for the reminders!

Jan 17, 2015 12:39 AM #55
Beth and Richard Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Huntington, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

Excellent information for all agents that have Open Houses... I will post on my Pinterest Board... Sales Tips For Agents...

Jan 17, 2015 03:07 AM #56
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Mitchell J Hall 

These are excellent suggestions for any open house. It's all about first impressions, for the property and for us.


Jan 17, 2015 04:07 AM #57
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

I'm not keen on open houses, but this is excellent advice.   They can be a viable way to get business for many.

Jan 17, 2015 06:14 AM #58
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

The dress part is important indeed here, one city I wouldn't wear a tie, but in the  city next door I would.

Jan 17, 2015 09:55 AM #59
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

This is excellent advice and wisdom, Mitchell!  We once had an agent in my office, who worked Open Houses as his primary source of business.  He was very successful at it.  I think the number of transactions attributed to Open Houses is likely greater than NAR demonstrates on their surveys.

Jan 17, 2015 10:27 AM #60
Ed & Tracy Oliva
West USA Realty - Arizona - Fountain Hills, AZ
The Oliva Team Arizona Agents

WOW , Good Morning and this is some great Info for all doing a open House,  keep up the good work and good luck with your business.  E

Jan 17, 2015 08:34 PM #61
Kim & Kristine Halverson, Santa Monica Real Estate :) - Santa Monica, CA

Great info!  I haven't tried the ipad app yet.  Yes, arrive early and check out the house it should look as good as you or better.  If not, bake cookies so it will at least smell good.  :)  Kristine

Jan 18, 2015 05:05 AM #62
Doyle Lee Austin Davison Iv
Surf City Realty 714-968-6767 - Huntington Beach, CA
28+ years serving Investors/Banks/Buyers/sellers

sometimes I get so busy I forget all the tips you provided... thanks a gazillion.

Jan 18, 2015 10:51 AM #63
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I like your suggestion to speak less, and listen more.

There will be plenty of time to speak after the Open, but when someone has walked into your Open, they are ready to speak. So, listen.

Jan 18, 2015 02:21 PM #64
James (Jim) Lawson, DBA LLC - Bonita Springs, FL
Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE

Lots of good advice Mitchell. Just as important as conducting the OH properly is publicizing your OH well and getting more interest than otherwise. Great blog topic for an agent who also knows how to get high OH traffic.  

Jan 18, 2015 02:34 PM #65
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

PeteX Good point, even in Manhattan dress appropriate for the neighborhood and building. No tie needed on west side or downtown. The East side is more formal.

Carla Muss-JacobsYou're entitled to your opinion. I represent buyers too. Rather than wasting my weekend (although I do work on weekends) my buyers attend open houses on their own. I often send them to open houses. Then they call me and we discuss and devise a strategy if they are interested in making an offer. In my opinion a good buyer's agent is not needed to escort and open doors for buyers. 

 Myrl Jeffcoat I have always beleived the NAR surveys regarding open houses are not accurate. For example a buyer may have seen a listing online or drove by and saw sign. They attend open house. They call their agent, the buyer and agent may go for a second showing. Buyer's agent writes up offer. How would NAR survey credit that transaction, The internet? the sign? the open house? the buyers agent? In my opinion all of the above contributed to the transaction.

Kim and Kristine, Cinnamon sticks in oven or microwave works great too! 

Jan 19, 2015 01:21 AM #66
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Great post.  A well run open house can be a big success.  You have some great ideas.

Jan 19, 2015 04:58 AM #67
Sean Williams
AcklesWilliams of Semonin Realtors - Louisville, KY
Your Louisville Realtor

All great advice, im sure you run a smooth open house. My goal is to make these more useful for me any my business!

Jan 20, 2015 04:24 AM #68
Jill Does
Collingwood, ON
Collingwood Real Estate, Wasaga Beach Real Estate

Thanks for the reminders! Even after doing many open houses its good to brush up on all those ideas and hear a few new ones. I'd like to try using my ipad at an open house, I have one in a few weeks in Wasaga Beach, do you find people provide more info when you use that? Well written post I'm going to see what else you have written & see what other tips you have :)

Jan 21, 2015 10:38 AM #69
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Jill Does, I stand with the iPad opened to the Open house app and I hand it to them when they come in. It's a nice ice breaker. I usually make a little joke about technology. I get a lot of young first time buyers so they all love it.

Download either open house pro app or open house lead manager app. Both are free in iTunes or apple store and I like them both.

I never had a problem getting them to fill out the old fashioned sign-in sheets but I think people like the iPad better and it's easier for me to read after the OH because everything is typed vs their handwriting that I can't always make out. 

Jan 22, 2015 04:44 AM #70
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Mitchell J Hall

Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn
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