My thinking is, if I'm going to invest a weekend afternoon away from my family, I want my open houses to be productive. I'm sure we all have something else we could be doing with our time. So, here are a few ideas of things that I've found to make my open houses even more worth my time:
1) Do something special for the neighbors. Have a special "sneak preview" open house for neighbors on a Saturday. Whenever I can, I also like to print out invitation postcards and go around the neighborhood to personally invite neighbors to the open house. A fellow agent takes her remaining cookies/snacks around to the neighbors after her open houses and has made some good contacts there.
2) Advertise on the internet. Many of you are probably already doing this, but if you're not, you're really missing out on some good advertising. Craigslist.com is a great source of free advertising. I also use postlets.com to generate a nicely formatted webpage to use in craigslist and my other internet advertising.
3) Be creative with your open house times. As mentioned earlier, consider doing a special open house on Saturday just for the neighbors. If the home is near a school, host an open house right after school gets out. Try having an open house during the week at lunch hour or twilight.
4) Think of creative snacks for people to take with them. This is especially useful if children come along. One idea: microwave popcorn with your business card attached and a "Thanks for popping by!" label on the front.
5) Provide detailed feedback to your sellers. Ask visitors for their thoughts about the home and write these down to pass on to your sellers. They will appreciate knowing what potential buyers think as well as any suggestions on how to improve the marketing of their home. Even if I'm not the listing agent, I like to send a report (w/o names) to the listing agent after each open house. We all have to help each other when we can, right?
6) Prepare a binder with other active listings in the area. This has several benefits: 1) Shows buyers how your home compares with others in the area, 2) Gives potential buyers a reason to stay a little longer and talk with you, and 3) Shows that you are an agent interested in going the "extra mile" to provide service.
7) Provide a "Recently Sold" sheet for visitors to take with them. This is a list of comparable homes in the area that have sold in the last three or six months, depending on activity. I put my contact information on the bottom of these sheets and have been surprised at how popular they are, especially with those who live in the area.
If you have any other creative suggestions, please share!