How to Conduct an Open House


Holding an open house is a popular marketing strategy for many homeowners. If the seller is listing his property with a licensed real estate agent, he can request the agent hold an open house. If the homeowner is selling his own property, or using a discount agent who does not provide this service, the homeowner may opt to conduct his own open house. Even if the homeowner’s real estate agent is holding the open house, the following tips will help the homeowner prepare his property, to assist in making the open house a success.

Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Money for advertising
  • Brochures
  • Sign-up sheet
  • Three-ring binder with property information
  • Open House sign
  • Helium balloons
  • Two people to sit open house
  • One person to monitor open house

Before you schedule a date, discover which day of the week is traditionally the best for a successful open house. This varies from community to community. It may be Friday or Saturday. One of your local newspapers or advertisers may have an open house section of their publication; call and ask for their opinion. Also request the opinions of local friends who have held successful open houses.

After deciding the best date for your open house, place an ad in one or more of the local publications which have special sections to promote open houses. Before scheduling, make sure you are able to complete the remaining steps listed below.

Send out personal invitations by traditional mail or email, targeting those who you think may be potential buyers. Include neighbors, who may have friends or family members considering the neighborhood.

Arrange to have a friend help you sit the open house. It is not safe for a single person to be alone in a house, when inviting strangers inside. Have another friend, at a separate location, call you on a regular basis, to make sure there are no problems.

Lock up all valuables. Make sure there is nothing that can easily be slipped into a pocket or purse.

Remove all prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, or any area where visitors might have access.

Remove all guns and firearms from view or visitors' access.

Remove valuable objects, which visitors might return to steal. Valuable items could include an expensive guitar, silver set or art collection.

Create attractive brochures, using a word processor and a digital camera. Include all pertinent information and a contact phone number. Keep in mind that color copies can be made at most office supply stores.

If there is a local home lender you trust, ask her to prepare custom brochures for your property, outlining what a buyer’s monthly payment might be on your property, based on several scenarios.

Have an ink pen and sign-up sheet, with a place for visitors to leave their names, phone numbers and comments available on a counter.

Prepare an attractive three-ring binder, detailing the property. Display the binder on the counter, near the sign-up sheet. It should include such property information as recent repairs, current warranties, utility costs, plat map, local schools and other property history and information. Design the cover so visitors to the open house understand they can browse through the book

If members of your household smoke, give yourself sufficient time to air out the house. Machines can be rented that help to eliminate the odor. When a non-smoker walks into a smoker’s house, it can be an immediate turn off.

Keep in mind that many people suggest baking cookies the day of the open house. The fragrance is inviting, and provokes positive images. You can also find candles that smell like baking cookies. When choosing candle fragrances, stay subtle and avoid anything too pungent.

Arrange to have your pets stay at a sitter for the day (little kids too).

Know that it is nice to provide simple refreshments. Do not choose foods or beverages that could leave stains or are messy to eat. Many visitors to the open house will be walking around the house with the food your offer. Make sure it is something you won’t mind landing on your floor or furniture.

Remember that curb appeal is crucial. It is the first impression a potential buyer has of your home. Free your yard (front and back) of weeks, debris and any pet feces.

Make sure the front door is clean. It is the first thing potential buyers notice before entering the house.

Make sure your house is sparkling clean. If necessary, hire a professional cleaner. Floors should be vacuumed, windows and mirrors clean, trash cans emptied, and all noticeable smudges wiped from light switches and walls.

Stage your home. If your home is for sale, it should already be staged. Personal photos and clutter should be removed. Consult a home staging expert in your area, for tips on how to make your home more appealing to buyers.

On the day of the open house, post a large Open House sign in a prominent location near your house.

On the day of the open house, purchase helium balloons at the dollar store or grocery store, and fasten to the Open House sign, to attract attention.

Be friendly and greet the visitors to your open house. Offer to answer questions about the property, but don't hover.

Keep an eye on visitors, don't allow them to stay for extended periods of time, alone in other parts of the house.

If a visitor to your open house wants to make an offer on your house, do you know what to do next? If not, find out before your open house and be prepared.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your cell phone with you at all times.
  • Don’t be tempted to advertise free gifts and drawings to attract visitors to your open house. You don’t want everyone from the general public to attend, just potential home buyers.
  • While some real estate professionals offer alcoholic beverages at open houses, consider the potential liability of serving such beverages.

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