open house

6 tips for a successful open house 

Need leads? When done right, open houses are still an effective way to make connections with potential clients.

Updated July 19, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Open houses might not result in an immediate sale, but "they’re one of the easiest and most effective things agents can do to obtain leads.”
  • Like a job interview with potential clients, open houses create connections that can pay off.
  • Effective open houses don’t just happen — they’re planned.

Online listings, virtual tours and social media are making it easier than ever to get a glimpse inside new listings. Does that mean old-fashioned open houses are a thing of the past? 

"No way," says Maria Quattrone, owner of Maria Quattrone and Associates RE/MAX in Philadelphia. "Our business is all about connecting with people, and I think we do that best face to face. An open house gives an agent the opportunity to make connections. You can show the property you're at, talk about other listings, share market insights. Done right, open houses can provide leads which can provide sales."

Brenda Bakken agrees. A Western Washington eXp agent, Bakken conducts 40 to 45 open houses each year. "A lot of times it's neighbors who come to the open houses. They're curious," she says. "But that's OK because they may know someone who'd like to move to the neighborhood or they may be thinking of selling sometime soon. You never know when one of those connections will pay off."

Gretchen Carlson, an eXp broker associate doing business in central Florida, thinks of open houses as part of the larger package she presents to sellers at listing appointments. "A lot of sellers have the perception that someone who comes to their open house will buy it. That happens, but not often. On the other hand, they're one of the easiest and most effective things agents can do to obtain leads."

Mike Schlichte is an agent with First Weber Realtors, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate in central Wisconsin. While he hasn't held many open houses recently, he says it's how he built his career. "When I first got my license 18 years ago, I was holding six to eight open houses every week. I treated them like job interviews, preparing and presenting myself in a professional manner. They got me leads, which is every agent's bread and butter."

6 ways to make the most of your open house

The best open houses, these agents agree, take planning. Here are their tips for producing an effective open house:

1. Publicize, online and offline

Post about the event on social media; pictures and videos will help grab potential buyers' attention. Knock on neighbors' doors and give them personal invitations to the open house.

2. Go big on signage

When you think you've put out enough signs, put out more. If there's a busy intersection nearby, put multiple signs there. Signs branded with your brokerage name and logo add credibility to the event.

3. Be prepared

Take a bin to every open house filled with essentials for last-minute cleaning or repairs: paper towels, all-surface cleaner, adhesive remover, trash bags, wet wipes, scissors and a small tool kit.

4. Get there early

Arrive at least an hour prior to start time. Open blinds, turn on lights, tuck away items the owner left out and wipe down counters. 

5. Capture information

Gather contact information — full name, address, phone, and email — for every person who enters the open house. If attendees balk, explain you owe it to the seller not to let anyone in unless they sign in and encourage their agent to make an appointment for a private showing.

6. Follow up

Even if open house attendees take your card, don't expect them to reach out first. Use the contact information you gathered to follow up via email, text or a short video clip. No hard sell. Simply thank them for attending and take the first steps toward building a relationship.

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