How to Hold an Open House

Three Parts:Advertising the PropertyPreparing the PropertyRunning the Open House

As a REALTOR®, or real estate salesperson, holding open houses helps you bring potential buyers up close with the property you're selling. A successful open house should generate interest, answer questions, and initiate a sale. Learning how to arrange and hold an open house can help you meet prospective buyers and close on a property you're selling as quickly as possible.

Part 1
Advertising the Property

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    Utilize digital platforms. Many people shopping for a home turn to the internet to find property listings. Most modern web platforms allow interested parties to search for property while filtering out undesired property features, and many websites allow viewers to take a digital tour of the property. Because of this, many realtors consider internet advertising to be an invaluable tool, responsible for as much as 50 percent of the open house turnout by some estimates.[1]
    • Specialized real estate websites like, Trulia, and Zillow allow real estate agents to reach a broad audience and showcase the property with both textual descriptions and images.[2]
    • Many agents also advertise upcoming open houses on blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.[3]
    • Be sure to post plenty of photographs that adequately showcase the property. Use high-quality photos and try to provide a comprehensive "viewing" of the property with your photo collection.[4]
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    Put up signs. Signs may seem like an old-fashioned form of advertising in the digital age, but according to real estate experts, they still work. Most realtors will use an array of signs to draw in customers, including signs of different colors and sizes, and different types of signs. Some realtors advertise perks like coffee and giveaways, as well as local foreclosures that may draw in buyers looking for a deal.[5]
    • Signs should be placed strategically around the neighborhood to lead interested parties to the property. Signs are invaluable for drawing in everyone from determined house hunters to casual open house explorers.[6]
    • Some realtors recommend putting up the majority of signs about two hours before the actual open house. That gives passersby enough time to finish whatever errands they may be running and make their way to the open house.[7]
    • There is no firm rule on how few or how many signs to use. Some realtors recommend putting up 20 to 40 signs to really draw a lot of interest, while others may use fewer signs, depending on the property.[8]
    • The type of signs used will vary, depending on the community and the intended audience. Signs that appear homemade may draw in bargain hunters, while official agency signs tend to work best for more elegant, expensive properties. However, some properties in gated communities may be governed by community-wide restrictions on what kinds of signs or how many signs are permitted.[9]
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    Print brochures. While digital advertising seems to be the easiest and most widespread method of advertising, it's important to remember that not everyone has an interest in using the internet. Some people prefer to read about listings in print, while others may decide on a whim to view an open house without having checked online, and may need additional information. A brochure should list information about the property, such as the square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, and asking price. It should also include your name and contact information, so that visitors can follow up with any questions or offers after the open house.[10]
    • You may wish to include some photographs in the brochure, in case a buyer is on the fence and decides to take a brochure home to think it over. Seeing the property again at home may make it easier for that buyer to imagine himself back inside the home he has toured.[11]
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    Be consistent. Open houses are typically held on Saturdays or Sundays, as a weekend showing allows the most potential buyers to view a home. But properties rarely sell on the first weekend they are shown. Many properties take consistent showings, week after week, to reach the right buyer. That adds up to a lot of work: some realtors estimate they spend upwards of 12 hours each week per property shown during an open house.[12]
    • Even if you don't make a sale, you're still making connections and putting the property out there in a way that reaches the greatest possible number of potential buyers.[13]

Part 2
Preparing the Property

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    Work with a blank canvas. Think of the property as a blank canvas: you want to remove any reminders that someone else is or was living in that home, and allow buyers to see the house as a new opportunity. You can help facilitate this by having the current tenants/residents (if applicable) remove as much of their personal clutter as possible. You should also ask the current residents to vacate the property while you're showing it to buyers. Having an existing resident and all of his belongings on site can easily intimidate or turn off potential buyers before they've even seen the property.[14]
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    Maintain a strong property image. When potential buyers come to view a home, they should be able to imagine themselves living inside that property. But if the property is rundown or poorly cared for, it may turn off potential buyers before they even make it through the door. Prior to hosting an open house, you should conduct any necessary maintenance and upkeep to create an impressive property display.[15]
    • Mow the lawn, trim any hedges on the property, and water the grass and flowers to create a welcoming yard.[16]
    • Consider planting a few flowers near the entrance to make the property look even more inviting to visitors.[17]
    • Clean the interior of the house. That may require sweeping/mopping the floors, dusting the walls and furniture, and washing the windows inside and out.[18]
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    Facilitate easy access. If a potential buyer has to go through a lot of trouble to access the property, he may decide it's not worth the effort. While maintaining the property inside and out can help create an alluring open house, one of the simplest ways to ensure easy access is by keeping the driveway clear. Do not park your car in the driveway, and ask that the current residents move their cars off the property during the open house. Also, if it is winter, be sure to shovel out and salt the driveway and walkway so that viewers can get in and out easily.[19]
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    Showcase the interior. Once you get potential buyers inside the house, you'll want to ensure that the house is as inviting as possible. In order to properly showcase the interior and make the house more inviting, you'll need to let in as much light as possible. That includes turning on artificial lights, as well as opening up curtains and blinds to let in outside light. You may also want to offer food and soft drinks to visitors, as this helps relax viewers and may make it easier for them to imagine actually living in that home.[20]
    • If you make the house smell like cookies (using air fresheners or room deodorizers), make sure you have actual cookies on hand to avoid disappointing buyers. You may want to avoid using air fresheners and scented candles altogether, however, as they may irritate some buyers' allergies.[21]

Part 3
Running the Open House

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    Turn on the charm. As the realtor running an open house, you are essentially the face of your real estate agency. How you interact with visitors and run the open house can make or break a potential buyer's experience of the property, so it's important to create the best possible experience.
    • Meet visitors at the door, and greet them politely.[22]
    • Distribute pamphlets or brochures about the property as soon as visitors walk through the door.[23]
    • Mention any relevant, specific features that a potential buyer may want to take note of right before the visitors go off on their own to browse the property.[24]
    • Let visitors casually stroll the property uninterrupted, but catch up with them after they've had a chance to look around. Use this opportunity to engage with them further about the property and gauge their interest.[25]
    • Thank each visitor for coming to view the property, no matter how interested or disinterested that visitor may have seemed.[26]
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    Make contacts during the open house. Some realtors offer to call potential buyers after the open house to follow up on the visit, but some people may have already lost interest by that point. Rather than basing your pitch on a follow-up call, make the necessary contacts during the actual open house. This includes swapping contact information, like the visitor's name and phone number or email address, but you should also ask the visitor specific and relevant questions if he seems interested.[27]
    • Ask visitors if they think they're interested once they've had a chance to look around.[28]
    • Find out what the visitors are looking for, and what other properties or features they may be looking for. If you know of other properties you can show them, offer to do so.[29]
    • If the visitor expresses an interest in the property, try to set up an appointment to meet and discuss the property in greater detail.[30]
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    Hand out community information. During the open house, it's a good idea to print and hand out additional information that may not be covered in the property's brochure. Some important information that potential buyers may be interested in include details about local schools, information about the larger community or township, and of course any relevant information about the actual property.[31]
    • Be sure that your name and contact information are printed in bold, visible font on each handout you distribute.[32]
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    Get the neighbors involved. Though it may seem strange to specifically invite the property's neighbors, welcoming them into the open house may result in a valuable connection. Those neighbors probably won't want to move into the neighboring property themselves, but they may have friends or relatives in the market for a home, and they may want those friends to live near by. Inviting and conversing with neighbors may end up leading to a successful sale, or could at the very least provide you with a contact who may be interested down the line.[33]
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    Be prepared to close. While it's fairly unlikely that a visitor will decide to buy the house on the first open house, it's still important to be prepared for that possibility each week. Some realtors recommend having a loan officer on site during every weekly open house. This can help potential buyers run a credit report and learn if they prequalify for a loan right at the open house.[34]


  • Dress professionally. If you are new real estate agent, you will be most confident in the type of clothing plus perhaps one notch higher. For example: if you usually wear golf shirts, go one higher with a shirt and tie. If you normally wear slacks (women) perhaps go one step higher by wearing a business length skirt. You won't kill your budget and you will be a bit more confident. But clothing won't sell houses; your attitude will.
  • It is crucial that you advertise the open house with your name on the picture. This will give you credibility with any buyer who sees your name and attends the open house.
  • Guard yourself from litigation by avoiding serious property questions such as property lines, state of the property, private property, and mechanicals (water heater, furnace). If a question of any of these things arrive, simply say, "I can find that out," and write the question down. Use it as an excuse to call them back the next day.


  • Always let a friend or family member know where you will be and how long you will be showing the property.
  • Host only in well-known, well-lit areas. Your life is more important than a few thousand dollars, no matter how desperate you may be to make a sale.
  • If a shady individual arrives, call the police immediately, or avoid contact at all costs and get out of the house to a safe place. If at all possible, have someone else on site or close by who can help you feel safe. If you can't get a loan officer or anyone from your agency to be on site, ask friends to dress well and walk around the property pretending to be interested parties.

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Categories: Selling Property