Open House Strategies

Winning Strategies for Open Houses

Open House Marketing Strategies

Feel like Open Houses are a waste of time and money?

Often, agents have many excuses as to why they don’t hold Open Houses: because they have too many listings, perhaps they feel there is too much inventory to pull buyers in, the house is difficult to find, doesn’t show well, or a myriad of other reasons. If you feel as though Open Houses are a waste of time and money, think again.

Open Houses are one of the most cost-effective ways to generate business. They key is to set the right objectives for your Open House and execute the event properly. This is where most agents fail. First, your objectives need to change. Your goal is not just to make your seller happy or to sell the house that day. Your goals should also include finding another buyer or seller you can represent, and building your network of people who can advocate you.

The Four P’s of Open House Success


  • Prepare the Seller on what to expect; tell them it is highly unlikely you will find a buyer for their house directly as a result of an Open House, but hopefully you will find people who know people who might be potential buyers.
  • Select a date that gives you ample time to promote the Open House – at least three to four weeks out – and hold the event on a Sunday afternoon.
  • Make sure the house is spotless.  This means deep cleaning the carpets a couple of days before, pressure washing the house and driveway, and doing a deep clean of the interior using a professional service.
  • Optimize the home’s curb appeal.  Paint the front door (red is a great color), plant some fresh flowers, and add a thin layer of new mulch to the beds.
  • Determine who will attend and what their roles will be – you, your assistant, a loan officer


  • In the neighborhood, place signs out for two weekends before the event to generate interest, create a color flyer to deliver to the neighborhood and create a personal invitation which you hand deliver to the immediate neighbors within a block of the house.
  • For your online marketing effort, make sure the Open House is listed in HAR as well as on other online portals such as American Towns, Craig’s List, Zillow, Backpage, Trulia and the social networking sites to which you belong. VFlyer has a great program that will syndicate your listing (complete with your Open House promo) to over a dozen different real estate web sites.
  • Your locals newspaper does get read and may be worth the $100 or so for their Open House package, which places the home in the Sunday Open House section as well as placing it as a Featured Open House in the online version and on Trulia for a week beforehand. Community newspapers may also be a good place to advertise if the house is at an entry-level price point.
  • Co-Brand the event with a local charity; maybe combine your Open House with the Garden Club, or your child’s little league fundraiser, or the sale of Girl Scout cookies, and make sure everyone you know is aware of it, especially the folks involved in that organization.
  • If the house is off the beaten path, consider a co-op where you would combine your Open House efforts with other agents in the neighborhood to create a multi-home Open House. This way you can split the cost of advertising (and we know that the other agents will not prepare near as well as you will)!
  • Lastly, make it fun! Use tons of balloons. If it’s a family-oriented neighborhood, have someone do face painting for the kids, pay a young family member $15 to dress up as a clown for a couple of hours, and have ice cream sundaes if it’s a hot day.


  • On Open House Day, place balloons on each sign and place signs at the busiest intersections close to the home.
  • Have pleasant background music and the scent of cookies and candles. Do not use artificial scents as they tend to be too strong and some people are allergic to them.
  • Make the homeowner and their pets scarce for an hour before and an hour after the event.
  • Turn on every light in the house unless it makes a “suspicious” noise.
  • Have a color flyer, with photos and details, available for visitors along with any supporting documentation such as appraisals, floor plans, inspection reports, survey, warranties, recent major repairs and improvements.
  • Have a loan officer on site to do pre-qualifications for mortgages.
  • Provide a copy of a FREE Report The 7 Most Common Homebuying Mistakes to folks as they come in and then ask then to sign your sign-in form.
  • Have a list of questions to ask each attendee including whether they are looking for themselves or someone else, if they are working with a Realtor, what characteristics they are looking for in a new home, if their current home is on the market, how they found out about the Open House and if they would like to receive some email updates based upon their buying criteria.

Post-Event Prospecting

  • Amazingly, most agents fall down on the job at this step. They don’t follow-up in a systematic way. Most buyers will not be ready to buy today, so it is very critical to have a comprehensive follow-up campaign with attendees.
  • Check out our commentary on email marketing for ideas on an Open House follow-up campaign. This is a series of nine email messages especially crafted for this purpose. Keep in mind that your campaign should position you as an expert, create an emotional attachment, and keep your name on the top of their mind.
  • Lastly, once the house is sold, host a celebration party for the sellers – inviting friends, family and neighbors. You will be the star of the party with a hearty endorsement from the seller, and will be able to build your network even more.

This system has been proven successful for hundreds of agents in getting additional traffic, building a network, and obtaining more seller and buyer leads. The only way it will be successful for you is if you implement it. We are happy to help you do so, just give us a call or send us an email.