Real estate agents host open houses to enable potential buyers to view an available listing without an appointment. It’s a powerful way to sell listings in less time, and gives agents the opportunity to meet active buyers and generate real estate leads. There are many things to do before, during, and after open houses, but following a checklist will ensure you’re prepared. Download our free open house checklist and learn how to host a successful open house that attracts buyers and generates leads.
Free Open House Checklist Download
In order to make all of your open houses as successful as possible, you need to develop a system. Start by downloading our free open house checklist and use it to plan and host open house events following a step-by-step plan. It’s divided into three sections: what to do before, the day of and during, and after the open house.
This is a breakdown of the steps real estate agents should follow to host a successful open house:
4 Things to Do Before the Open House
Hosting an open house that successfully attracts buyers and generates real estate leads for future work requires careful planning. Before the open house, follow these four steps to choose the right time for the event, prepare the home to look its best, get your marketing materials ready, and advertise the open house:
1. Schedule the Best Day & Time for Your Open House
Open houses are often hosted on Sunday afternoons, but that shouldn’t stop you from testing alternative dates and times. Depending on your market, choosing an unconventional day or time slot may actually produce more visitors and potential buyers. Plus, hosting multiple open houses with both weekend and non-weekend open house dates can also help you attract different types of active buyers, or produce more traffic for harder-to-sell properties.
Private showings can take place almost anytime, but a scheduling service like Calendly can streamline the process. Open time slots based on when you’re available for showings, and interested buyers can click on a link to schedule a showing without even having to reach out to you. It completely removes the logistical struggle of back-and-forth email messages and phone tag, streamlining the process to ensure you don’t miss out on appointments.
The Sunday Standard
In many areas, Sunday is the day potential buyers expect to attend open houses. People often have events on Saturdays, but Sundays allow them to visit open houses on a true day off from planned events. In a metropolitan area like New York City, rental open houses are held on Saturdays while for-sale open houses are on Sundays, so plan accordingly based on your target audience.
Try scheduling your open house for later in the afternoon (such as 3 to 5 p.m. rather than 1 to 3 p.m.) to capture buyers who are trying to view as many properties as they can in a day. Or schedule two open houses in one day, such as from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and another from 3 to 5 p.m. to accommodate as many potential buyers as possible.
Nontraditional Days & Times
In some markets, nontraditional days and times work better. If your market is one where people tend to go away for the weekend, for example, buyers might want the chance to attend an open house on a weeknight. Communities with large populations of retirees and swing shift workers may also benefit from showing at nontraditional times. You may be surprised by how many people you capture with a different approach.
Hosting an open house on or near a holiday can be tricky, since it may require homeowners to disrupt holiday plans and family gatherings. However, if you think an open house would be well-attended, be mindful of balancing your client’s wishes and your duty to get the best results for their listing.
Vacation communities are a clear exception, since holidays are often prime showing opportunities. Likewise, if a home is unoccupied, holiday showings might not be an issue at all. In addition, you can opt to hold a virtual open house on holidays (or any time) to minimize inconvenience for the current owner.
An alternative open house idea is to host virtual events in place of in-person open houses, which may even enable you to reach more interested people. Using a video meeting app, such as Facebook Live or Zoom, conduct a live walk-through of the home. Invite homebuyers and agents to join your virtual open house and encourage attendees to ask questions in real time. Just as with traditional open houses, make sure you have a way to collect contact information for follow up and lead generation and marketing materials that can be sent by email.
2. Prepare the Home & Property
Before potential buyers walk through your listing, you need to be sure it’s ready to shine and showcase the home’s full potential. That’s where home staging comes in and can be an invaluable asset.
Staging refers to design and decor, like furniture selection and placement and neutralizing the overall palette. However, there are more actions you and the homeowners should take to prepare the home for a successful open house. For instance, decluttering and removing personal items like family photos is one of the most cost-effective and impactful things homeowners can do to make their home more appealing to buyers.
You should also ensure all home repairs are done, that it receives a fresh deep cleaning, and that low-cost improvements like repainting have been done. Don’t forget to pay close attention to the exterior of the home as well, since curb appeal is one of the most powerful ways to increase a home’s sales price. Try a variety of curb appeal ideas to make it look more appealing to prospective buyers.
The goal of home staging is to present a house in a way that will appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers, and ultimately lead to an offer. If sellers are unwilling or unable to pay for professional staging, you can suggest a virtual staging company like BoxBrownie to provide virtually staged photos. Virtual staging is a much more affordable option, but still helps buyers see the home’s full potential.
Pro tip: It’s best for sellers to be away from the home during all showings and open houses. The main reason is that it’s harder for interested buyers to envision themselves in the home when the current owners are hovering over them. It also prevents buyers from expressing their own thoughts and opinions—they will feel like they can’t say anything negative if the homeowners are near.
3. Create Marketing Materials for the Open House
Get your marketing materials for the open house together well in advance. Examples of these include open house invitations, sign-in sheets, flyers or brochures, and business cards. Also, it’s worth noting that you’ll make it easier for people to remember your services if your marketing materials have a professional logo and look. If you don’t have one, you can get a professional logo or even a complete brochure designed for as little as $5 on Fiverr.
Make sure that your real estate brochures include important details about the home. Being able to estimate utility expenses, property tax costs, and homeowner association (HOA) fees and reviewing seller disclosures, neighborhood amenities, and purchasing agreements can all be helpful to buyers, and even shorten the buying process.
Get our free open house flyer templates, or use a service like Canva or ProspectsPLUS! to create professional brochures and printable materials. ProspectsPLUS! has hundreds of real estate collateral templates, so it’s a no-brainer to fill in the information and start promoting your listing. You can even automate mailers when you follow up with open house guests.
4. Advertise Online & Off for Maximum Exposure
You can’t just list the date and time of your open house in a single place and expect a stream of qualified buyers to show up. Agents who are successful in real estate know that you need to share information about your event on every possible channel, including both online and offline advertising.
Examples of where you can advertise open house events include:
- The multiple listing service (MLS)
- Placing open house signs throughout the neighborhood
- Sharing posts about the event on social media in posts, stories, images, and videos
- Sharing information in nearby neighborhood Facebook groups
- Posting information on your real estate website
- Sharing the event information using a single-property website or real estate landing page
- Advertising the open house in your Zillow listing
Once entered into the MLS, the open house information is automatically fed to sites like Realtor.com and Zillow. However, to become the exclusive agent on the property and maximize each listing’s lead generation potential, join as a Zillow Premier Agent. Zillow is the number one real estate platform in the world, so add your open house dates and times on your Zillow listing to promote it to thousands of active buyers who may be looking for a listing just like yours.
If you want to run ads for your open house on social media but don’t have extensive experience setting up and running social media ads, Real Geeks is an ideal option. They provide marketing expertise and have a built-in Facebook ad tool to help you build and publish effective real estate ads on Facebook in a matter of minutes.
4 Things to Do the Day of & at the Open House
With a good strategy and an open house checklist to follow, there are only a handful of things to check off and set up on the day of the open house, but each one is important. These are the four steps you should take on the day of the open house:
5. Final Touches
On the day of the open house, arrive early and drop off the refreshments you’re planning to offer. Next, park away from the entrance to allow for maximum guest parking, and walk through the property. Even small details can leave a poor impression of an otherwise nice space.
Pay attention to the walkway, making sure it is safe and easily accessible. Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and correct any minor issues you might see throughout the home like toilet seats left up, drawers partially open, light bulbs out, or trash in trash cans. Set the mood by turning on all the lights, lighting a scented candle, and showcasing the home’s best features, such as rooms that get a lot of natural light.
Set up food and beverages in the kitchen, and consider setting the table to show the home as a space that works for entertaining. Finally, place your flyers or brochures and business cards near the entrance or in a strategic location, such as the kitchen counter, and get your open house sign-in sheet ready.
6. Get Buyers in Touch With Their Five Senses
Buying a home is an extremely emotional decision, even though some buyers don’t realize it. When planning your open house, appeal to all five senses of potential buyers. This is an incredibly powerful way to help them develop a positive impression of the home—and you. Here are some ideas to appeal to the buyer’s five senses:
Sight is the first interaction most buyers have with the home. What will they see before entering, and what is the first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk in the door? A welcoming visual is one that appears clean, comfortable, beautiful, and relaxing. Make sure the home is spotless. Arrive early enough to clean up anything the seller might have overlooked, and bring flowers, candles, and decor to elevate the home’s design. Plump the pillows and arrange comfort items like throws.
Part of your open house checklist should include thinking a step ahead of potential problems—including ambient noise. Traffic right outside the door or a dog barking across the street may make potential buyers rethink the purchase no matter how beautiful the interior looks. Soft, relaxing (but upbeat) music sets the tone and can mask car noises or dog barks in the background. You never want to be deceptive, but you do want to bolster a good first impression.
Ideally, a house won’t have any overwhelming smells, even “good ones.” If the home has an odor that won’t be appealing to buyers, communicate that while being careful not to offend your clients. Work together to try to fix the issue in advance.
Using air fresheners will often have an undesired effect of making people wonder if it’s hiding something. You can use scented candles, but don’t try to add scent to every room. You can also create a welcoming environment by baking cookies, which you can later serve. Make any added scents subtle, as though they are a genuine extension of what it’s like to live in the home.
Pro tip: To tone down a strong odor like stale cigarettes, place white vinegar in shallow bowls and hide them under furniture or behind a couch. Just remember to remove them when you leave.
When people feel welcome, positive feelings color their impressions about the home itself. Offer treats while potential buyers tour a property to give those impressions a boost. It’s even better if you can serve goodies from a bakery nearby to promote a local business. Try to serve something (or have alternatives) that are free of common allergens like nuts, and make sure to clearly label refreshments to avoid potential issues.
Watch any HGTV show and you’ll notice how much people touch surfaces and fixtures when evaluating a house. It’s a natural impulse buyers have, so prepare by making sure all surfaces are clean and free of clutter. Keep disinfecting wipes on hand so that surfaces can stay clean and germ-free throughout the event.
It’s also important to set the thermostat properly. Experiencing a home as “drafty” or “stuffy” can make potential buyers believe a house isn’t well-suited for them or suggest there could be issues with HVAC or the home’s insulation, windows, or siding.
Pro tip: If you’re hosting a virtual open house, it’s important to describe the way things feel to the touch. Talk about the smooth granite, the solid feeling of a door when it closes, or the grain of wood cabinetry.
7. Ask Everyone to Sign-in When Entering
The primary goal of open houses is to attract potential buyers and get valuable offers on the listing. However, it’s also an extremely valuable opportunity for you to attract other potential buyer and seller leads. That’s why it’s so important to have a sign-in sheet ready to go before visitors arrive and a process to capture contact information from each one.
You can use our open house sign-in sheet template to print a sign-in sheet or use a digital sign-in system like Spacio. Spacio provides you with a digital sign-in form as well as an automatic follow-up system and customer relationship manager (CRM) integrations that save you time and effort. You can try Spacio for free today.
8. Interact With All Visitors
Since hosting a successful open house is done to generate leads for selling the house and for your real estate business, be intentional about interacting with visitors. Make sure that you are in the best position in the home to greet each guest as they arrive and initiate conversation.
Think of the open house as an opportunity to showcase not only the home for sale, but your skills as a real estate agent. You want to bring in offers for the home, but you also want to generate more potential buyer and seller leads to build your business. Put your phone away so that you are completely available for conversation and questions during the open house.
Although it’s important to direct visitors to the sign-in sheet, be careful not to give the impression that your only goal is to gather contact information. Instead, place your business cards and brochures in prominent spaces, and give them out after you begin building a rapport.
As visitors are leaving, check in one last time to see if they have questions and ask for honest feedback. Getting feedback on the property is an important part of hosting a successful open house because it helps gauge the perspective of potential buyers. Additionally, if the open house doesn’t produce offers, this feedback can help you better prepare the home for the next open house or showing opportunity.
Write down all the feedback, making special note of any elements that seem to be of general consensus or common questions that tend to arise, such as unclear property lines or a price point set a bit too high. This is important information to convey to the seller, and if the house doesn’t sell quickly, you can use this information to adjust and help the property move faster.
3 Things to Do After the Open House
The minute your open house ends, some of the most important work begins. By performing a few simple-but-important open house follow-up tasks, you’ll increase your chances of getting offers on the property, gain new leads, and leave an impression with the seller that can produce positive reviews about your real estate services.
9. Clean Up
Once all of the open house visitors have left, take one more walk through the property. Gather up any refreshments, decor pieces, marketing materials, and signs you brought, and use a disinfecting wipe on any areas that need it. Take any open house-generated trash with you and clean any dishes. If you set the table, wash these items before putting them away. Ensuring the sellers come back to a clean home relieves their stress and makes you look more professional.
10. Brief Sellers
After finishing and leaving your open house, call the sellers and give them an update about the event. Review the feedback you got from visitors and discuss any notes for improvement. Even more importantly, discuss any potential offers (or expected offers) and talk to the sellers about your plans for following up with interested parties.
11. Send Follow-up Emails Using a CRM
Contact every visitor from the open house as soon as possible. A simple email saying that you enjoyed meeting them and are available to answer any questions can open the line of communication with new leads. Even if you don’t hear back right away, you’ll leave them with the impression that you’re engaged and interested in their feedback and homebuying or selling process.
The easiest way to avoid missing out on new leads is by using a real estate CRM to gather, track, and automatically follow up with leads. With Pipedrive, you can create a visual pipeline to easily keep track of each of your leads and automatically send follow-up emails to open house visitors. Use our open house follow-up email template to nurture new leads quickly and efficiently.
A successful open house is one that showcases the home as well as the level of service you provide as a real estate agent. Every person who walks through the door or watches the livestream of an open house is a potential new client, and you should treat each event as an audition to get more listings.
Using an open house checklist can help you nail down the details for successful events and establish a repeatable pattern of professionalism—you can even add items to customize the checklist for your process. A great open house leads to more buzz for your listings, establishing your ability to market the properties you represent and attracting more clients for future work.