“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas Edison

Before you even consider hosting another open house, take a moment to read this. Discover how we secure an average of 2.3 additional sales from every listing we handle.

It is not uncommon for our new recruits at the Fox Homes Team to express a dislike for open houses. They simply do not enjoy them. However, having spent 17 years in retail management, I have developed a knack for engaging with strangers, even those who initially show no interest in conversation. Some of my most valuable clients started as the most standoffish open house visitors.

Surprisingly, I am not naturally inclined towards social interactions, and small talk is not my forte. I have learned to leverage this discomfort, transforming it into a sales-driving force. I approach every visitor with honesty and transparency, discussing the advantages, disadvantages, and sometimes even the less appealing aspects of the house I am selling.

So, if you are like me, not particularly fond of open houses or small talk, I urge you to give our method a try. Yes, it involves 18 steps—it might seem like a lot, but trust me, it is worth it!

Embrace the Three-Day Open House Strategy: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

There is a common misconception among many agents and sellers that open houses are merely a tool for gathering buyer leads and do not actually contribute to selling the home. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In our experience, about a third of our listings are sold through open houses.

Initially, we were concerned that spreading the open house over three days might dilute the traffic, making it appear less busy. However, this hasn’t been the case. Buyers have their own schedules and commitments, so providing them with multiple options increases the likelihood of their attendance. Also, if you host all three days, it is more likely that the buyer will tell their agent, “Don’t worry about coming out, we are going to just go to the open house on Friday.”

We are not in the habit of stealing clients, but we are in the business of selling our client’s homes. Who is more likely to care if they like the house? The buyer’s agent, or you, the listing agent? It is also a useful strategy when dealing with unpredictable weather. It rarely rains or snows all three days. 

Finally, make a point of inviting the neighbors to the Friday evening open house. Not only does this increase visibility for your sellers, but it also gives you an opportunity to connect with potential future sellers.

Always Have More Signs Than You Need!

One of our team members secured a recent listing purely because of the visibility provided by her open house signs. We like to put out 25-30 signs for the open house. This includes multiple (3-5) signs on every corner. 

If your open house visitors are not playfully commenting, “Did you put out enough signs?” then you have not reached your signage potential. Your open house should stand out, especially when there are others nearby with only a sad handful of signs. A sea of signs not only directs traffic to your open house but also sends a powerful message to the neighbor that you are an agent who goes above and beyond.

Putting the Property First

When you are hosting an open house, your primary focus is to sell that property. Buyers and neighbors (aka future sellers) will respect and appreciate your dedication to selling that particular house. Enthusiasm sells! And the best way to be enthusiastic is to know your subject inside and out. You are not just selling a house; you are selling a lifestyle. You are selling the convenience of having the pool just around the corner, the peace of mind that comes with a top-rated school district, and the joy of a local park perfect for Sunday picnics.

Knowing these details and sharing them with potential buyers can make a world of difference. It shows that you are not just knowledgeable about the property but also about the community. It shows that you care. That kind of dedication and attention to detail is what turns casual visitors into serious buyers and neighbors into future clients.

Never Say “Let Me Know If You Have Any Questions”

Don’t wait for the probable purchasers (that’s what they are…they drove here) to ask a question. Try saying,

“Alright guys, here is the abridged version. The kitchen and bath were recently updated in 2022 and roof, windows, and HVAC were all updated in the last five years. This home is literally turnkey…. Where do you guys live now?”

Make it casual and ask questions to get to know the probable purchasers, such as: “Have you guys lost out on any offers yet? The market can be tough!” This is a non-threatening way to find out how far along in the process they are. 

You can follow it up with, “Do you guys need to sell your current home? Or hopefully able to keep it as an investment?” This establishes you as an agent who is not immediately going after the additional home sale.

If they mention they might need to sell their home, start to break down the options for them. For example: 

“When we’re helping clients like yourself that need to sell first, they typically have three options. The least stressful is to identify homes that have been on the market for more than a week and that would be more likely to accept a home sale contingent offer. This would allow you to shop for a home, and if your home isn’t selling at a price you’re happy with, you can be released from the buy-side transaction.

“Option 2 is speaking with one of our preferred lenders that specializes in Bridge loans. You can get a loan based on your current home’s equity and sell after you move out.

“Option 3 is putting your home on the market. You get it under contract with a 30-day close and a 60-day rent back. This method is stressful for some of our clients because once you have your equity in 30 days, it really only gives you 30 days to shop because you have to typically allow 30 days for the next house to close.”

As you’re explaining this to the probable purchasers, you’ll typically see the look on their faces that combines 1) this guy really knows his stuff, and 2) Is he ever going to stop talking? This is such an overlooked portion for many agents, and no other talking points get more purchasers to say, “Can I take your business card?” They will literally call you!

Brand Your Signs, Brand Your Business

Let’s have a heart-to-heart about open house signs. You know those flimsy, non-branded signs that look like they’ve weathered more storms than an old sea captain? It is time to bid them farewell. Why settle for a lackluster, generic sign when you could have a custom, branded sign that turns heads?

In addition, always have balloons branded to your colors (unless it is raining because they will not float!). This is a pain in the ass, but they work. You are trying to attract attention. Keep in mind that in a lot of jurisdictions, this is a no-no, so please check your MLS, Association, county, and HOA guidelines. You could substitute flags here too. Branded, of course! We do the big banner flags.

Champion the Early Arrival Strategy

When it comes to open houses, being early is not just about punctuality; it is a strategic move. If your open house is slated to start at 2:00 pm, make it your mission to be there by 1:00 pm. This gives you a full hour to set up signs, log into iPads, prepare refreshments, and turn on lights, all without the stress of rushing.

There is another compelling reason to arrive early: the potential to connect with early bird visitors. Some of the most promising buyers and sellers I have encountered have been those who arrived before the official start time. By being there to welcome them, you not only demonstrate your professionalism and commitment, but you also create an opportunity to build rapport and win them over right from the start.

Take it one step further by door knocking and inviting the neighbors to your catered or food truck open house. It’s much easier to door knock when you start with, “Don’t worry, I’m not selling anything. Just wanted to invite you to our catered open house from 2-4 PM today.” This will further set you apart from the competition because so few agents are willing to do it.

Master the Art of One-on-One Engagement

When you are hosting an open house, it is crucial to give each visitor your undivided attention. This is not just about good manners; it is about making each visitor feel like they are the star of their own personal HGTV show. Keep your eyes locked on theirs and engage in conversation that is more meaningful than the weather. This focused attention can turn a casual visitor into a potential client.

This skill is like a fine wine; it gets better with time and practice. Don’t expect to be great at open houses when you are brand new. Like a muscle that takes months to work out before you see a noticeable difference. The more open houses you host, the better you become at spotting appointments. An appointment could be a buyer consult follow-up meeting after the open house to dive deeper into their real estate needs, or it could be a visit to their property to provide a valuation and discuss your selling strategy.

When you are in the thick of an open house, focus on one person at a time. Think of it as speed dating but for real estate. This approach not only helps you identify potential appointments but also builds trust and rapport, which are key to converting visitors into clients. Every open house is an opportunity to refine your skills and instincts. The more “reps” or practice you get, the better you will become at recognizing and seizing the good buyer and seller opportunities that come your way. Get out there and start practicing.

Stock Up On High-Quality Print Material

open house brochures

When it comes to showcasing your property, having an abundance of high-quality printed materials is a must. As you prepare for the open house, ensure you have a generous stack of glossy brochures on hand. However, be strategic and keep half of them tucked away before the open house. This ensures that even if agents and their clients take some during the week, you will still have a good supply for the open house.

It is not just about quantity, but also about variety. Make sure to have around 100 copies of professionally printed flyers on cardstock. Your flier box on the signpost should never run out – an empty box can appear unprofessional and neglectful.

In addition to property brochures and flyers, other ideas include printing out current MLS sheets, floor plans, a plat/survey, a capital improvements list, and any other material that you might have on the property. The more information you can provide, the more value you offer to potential buyers and their agents.

The print materials are not going to sell the house by themselves. This is also about impressing the potential selling neighbors and being known for quality.

Embrace the Digital Age: Use an iPad or Tablet for Sign-Ins

Paper sign-up sheets are a thing of the past. Using one can instantly signal to tech-savvy buyers and sellers that you are not keeping up with the times. Instead, have an iPad or tablet ready with your personal single-property website loaded up. We are big fans of Sierra Interactive’s (our CRM) open house tool (websiteURL/openhouse). It is user-friendly, looks professional, and best of all, leads auto-import to our CRM. This seamless integration saves time and ensures no potential leads fall through the cracks. Stay ahead of the curve and make the switch to digital sign-ins.

Outshine Your Competitors with a Superior Setup

Our ambition extends beyond merely outperforming our competitors; we aim to surpass our own benchmarks. While it is essential to be aware of what others in the industry are doing, our strategy is to diverge from the norm and set a new standard of excellence. We do not just want to be a step ahead of the competition; we aim to redefine what it means to be the best. By continuously challenging ourselves to break away from traditional methods, we open the door to innovation and creative solutions that not only set us apart but also add unique value to our clients. This relentless pursuit of innovation ensures that we are not just leaders in the market, but pioneers shaping the future of our industry.

We believe in going the extra mile. Whether it is catering, arranging a food truck, or at the very least, presenting a delectable charcuterie platter, we ensure our open houses are memorable. We aim for every visitor, be that a potential buyer or seller, to leave thinking, “Wow, they really pull out all the stops!”

Food is a universal icebreaker. It encourages engagement, increases iPad registrations, and sparks friendly conversations, helping to overcome the initial awkwardness of an open house.

Consider bringing your Keurig or Nespresso machine, too. Offering a cup of coffee in a regular mug (not a travel cup) is a simple gesture that can slow down the pace, make visitors feel more at home, and stimulate conversation. These small details can make a big difference.

Welcome Them at The Door!

In her inspiring book, Estee: A Success Story, Estee Lauder emphasizes the importance of greeting guests at the door whenever she hosts an event. She understood the power of a warm welcome and a friendly smile in making a lasting impression.

How many times have you attended a party where the only person you know is the host? You wander around, hoping to spot them. It is an awkward situation, isn’t it? So, why not apply the same principle at an open house? Visitors may feel uncertain about what they are walking into. Open the door for them, greet them with enthusiasm, introduce yourself, and invite them to feel at home. Give them a moment to settle in, then offer them some refreshments before asking them to register on the iPad. This approach can make a world of difference in setting a positive tone for their visit.

Ensure Everyone Signs In

When you have put effort into creating an inviting setup, it becomes much easier to encourage visitors to register. Offering them food before asking them to sign in invokes reciprocity. Reciprocity is so powerful that only the most ungracious individuals would refuse to register. So, make sure everyone signs in, not just for record-keeping, but also as a way to establish a connection that could potentially lead to a fruitful relationship.

However, if a visitor refuses to register even after you have offered them food, respond with a polite “no problem.” It is essential to remember that forcing someone to sign in will not convert them into a client. In fact, it likely does the opposite by creating a negative impression. Always prioritize creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere. This way, even if they do not sign in, they will remember the pleasant experience and may consider you for their real estate needs.

Engage the Neighbors Before the Open House

One of the most effective strategies we have found is to reach out to the neighbors before the open house. This is where the Nearby Letter from Listings-To-Leads comes into play. It is important to sell the benefit to the neighbors on why they need to be there.

Hosting a catered or food truck open house without inviting the neighbors is like throwing a party and forgetting to invite the guests. It is a missed opportunity and a waste of resources. To avoid this, planning is key. You should send out your invitations no later than the Wednesday of the week before the open house. We have found Zairmail (use promo code PC101+ for a small discount) to be a reliable service for this, as they can send a white envelope with a first-class stamp and no business affiliation on the envelope.

The goal here is simple: get the mail opened. A postcard might seem like a good idea, but in reality, it is likely to end up in the trash. On the other hand, a white envelope with no business affiliation on the return address and a first-class stamp is a mystery waiting to be solved. It piques curiosity and almost guarantees that the recipient will open it. This is your chance to make a great first impression, so make it count!

In instances where the ‘check’ equity for mailings might be constrained, door knocking is an alternative, embodying the essence of ‘sweat’ equity. This traditional, hands-on approach not only costs nothing but also offers a personalized touch that digital or mailed communications often lack. Walking the neighborhood, knocking on doors, and personally inviting neighbors to the open house is an exercise in building genuine connections. 

While it might be considered old-fashioned, the personal touch of door knocking often resonates well with neighbors, offering a sense of sincerity and dedication that is hard to replicate through mailed invitations. So, if the budget is tight, hit the pavement, and extend those personal invitations.

Leverage Social Media to Amplify Your Open House

Social media is an indispensable tool for promoting your open house. It is a platform that allows you to reach a wide audience and generate buzz around your event.

Start by creating engaging posts on your social media platforms. Use compelling visuals and catchy captions to grab attention. Include all of the necessary details about the open house (date, time, location, and unique selling points of the property).

Next, utilize the Stories feature on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. This is a great way to share behind-the-scenes content, countdowns to the event, or even conduct a live Q&A session to answer any queries potential attendees might have.

Instagram Reels and TikTok offer another avenue to showcase the property. Consider doing a property tour, highlighting its best features in a fun and engaging way. This not only gives potential buyers a sneak peek into the property but also makes your content more shareable, increasing its reach. Check out my Insta @dustinmfox and you will see I break the drone out for almost every open house.

Finally, do not forget to include details of the open house in your weekly email newsletter. This is a direct line of communication with people who have already shown interest in your services, making it a powerful tool for promotion. Prospective sellers who have been in your database for years will secretly shop with you when the time is right.

The goal is to create a sense of anticipation and excitement around your open house. The more buzz you generate, the higher the chances of having a successful event. Get creative and start sharing!

Ensure Your Open House is Listed in the MLS Public Remarks

While it may seem obvious, the importance of prominently advertising your open house event on the MLS cannot be overstated, yet it is a step that is often overlooked. The MLS serves as a main hub of information for potential buyers, and not having your open house event clearly advertised there could mean missing out on a significant opportunity to attract attendees.

But it is not just about having it mentioned – it is about making it shine in comparison to other listings. A straightforward yet impactful strategy is to amend the first line of the public remarks section to include enticing details about the open house. For instance, you might say, “Join us for a catered open house Saturday from 2-4 pm.” 

This does more than just inform potential attendees about the event; it adds a touch of appeal. After all, the promise of good food while house hunting is an inviting prospect. Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd, and a well-advertised open house event in the MLS is a step toward creating that buzz! 

Most agents have no idea that their MLS open house remarks are not shown on third-party websites. Change the public remarks to guarantee the buyers see it on Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com.

Open House Follow-Up Guidelines

Each open house visitor should receive a personalized BombBomb or video thanking them for stopping in. Look up each visitor in Forewarn. Do they own a home? If so, add them to Homebot and your CRM. Set them up to receive two sellers’ e-alerts a month. Add them to your email newsletter distribution list. Set a task reminder in Sierra (or any CRM) to send them a Video-CMA BombBomb.

The Power of Lagniappe

What on earth is Lagniappe? It is an old Louisiana term that refers to a small, unexpected gift given as a bonus or extra. Think about how Five Guys generously fills up your bag with an overabundance of fries, or how a local mom-and-pop restaurant might offer you a complimentary soup while you wait for your order. These little extras make a big impression and leave you feeling valued and pleasantly surprised.

In the context of open houses, I like to incorporate the concept of Lagniappe in a fun and engaging way. I bring along a treasure box (which you can easily find on Amazon) and fill it with an assortment of toys from the dollar store. Nothing too noisy or messy, of course, just simple, fun items that kids would love. Hide it away in a closet upstairs and invite the family to find it.

This small gesture has a significant impact. It not only keeps the kids entertained but also endears you to the parents. I have received numerous calls from parents who were so touched by this thoughtful act that they wanted me to be their agent. Everyone appreciates it when you show kindness to their kids. It is these little extras that can set you apart and make your open houses truly memorable.

The Power of Reciprocity

Building relationships is key, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through the principle of reciprocity. This principle is simple but powerful. When someone does something nice for us, we naturally want to do something nice in return.

Every potential buyer or seller you meet at an open house is a potential relationship, and a personalized text can be a great way to start building that connection. Do not just send a generic “nice to meet you” message. Instead, we like to send what we call our “Thanks-A-Latte” message.

This message includes a barcode for a free Starbucks coffee that expires at the end of the day on the Monday following the open house. It is a small token of appreciation that not only shows your gratitude for their time but also gives them a pleasant surprise. It is a smart investment on your part because your money is only spent if they actually use the barcode.

The real magic of the “Thanks-A-Latte” message is that it opens up a dialogue with a positive gesture. It is a simple act of kindness that can leave a lasting impression, making potential clients more likely to remember you and more inclined to reciprocate your kindness – perhaps by choosing you as their real estate agent. Never underestimate the power of reciprocity. It is a small investment that can yield big returns in building relationships and growing your business.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make your “Thanks-A-Latte” message:

Leading by Example: Team Leads and Open Houses

If you are a team lead, do not shy away from getting your hands dirty and hosting some open houses alongside your team members. This is not just about showing solidarity; it is about demonstrating that no task is beneath you and that you are willing to be on the front lines with your team. This kind of hands-on leadership can earn you immense respect from your team, and it also gives you a firsthand look at what the market is like.

We have a core value in our team: You’re there, We’re here. This means we believe in experiencing things for ourselves and doing the work firsthand. Hearing the market is slowing down? Don’t trust the market report. Go see for yourself. I have no interest in being a distant figurehead who delegates tasks without understanding what they entail.

Catering an open house is expensive, but before you dismiss the idea, remember this: The highest cost of selling is not selling.

Embrace the reality that selling is not just about the house; it is about selling yourself to every potential buyer, every single time. The sooner you internalize this truth in your career, the quicker you will climb the ladder of real estate success.

If you are just starting out and don’t have any listings or open houses to host, every real estate office is filled with listing agents who would rather not host their open houses. Be the solution to their problem. Reach out to these agents early in the week, before another ambitious agent seizes the opportunity.

By following these detailed steps, you can transform your open house strategy into a powerful tool for generating sales and building lasting relationships with clients. Whether you are a seasoned agent or new to the field, these insights and tips will help you master the art of hosting successful open houses.

To learn more about our open house strategy in more detail, check out Chapter 9 of my book Six Weeks to Real Estate Success available now on Amazon.