Make Your Next Open House a Success by Having Everything You Need
Using an Open House to sell real estate has been, and can still be a very effective way of marketing at home, if done correctly.
I know myself as a real estate agent I often have clients ask me as one of their questions during a pre-listing appointment is, “do you do open houses”?
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Granted some clients do not want an open house, especially given the concern over safety and security. Yet, others do want an open house, and if you don’t do at least one, they become concerned. They want their home sold, and don’t quite realize how in most neighborhoods, technology has replaced the purpose of the open house event.
I will be honest I don’t hold as many as I used to when I was a new real estate agent, but I do find them useful for certain types of properties.
With today’s security concerns I usually only hold a house open in conjunction with having a lender with me so that at least there are two sets of eyes keeping an eye on the home.
Much better is to host an open house if the house is vacant, that way I’m not taking on the risk of making sure that people do not damage anything in the home. And as important is that guests are not getting into medicine cabinets, or messing with valuables.
I know about a year plus ago I did a showing of the home and even though to the best efforts of my clients efforts to try to monitor their small children, we almost had a situation.
When the parents were looking around the home, one of the smallest kids ran away chasing a cat that was left in the home. The next thing I know was that the child was getting behind the LED TV to retrieve the kitty. I was waiting to hear a crash of the very expensive LED TV on the floor at any minute,
Luckily these clients were actually repeating clients, and they could tell by the look on my face that something was amiss. That look drew their attention to what was going on in the family room. Thankfully they were able to retrieve their child before anything happened.
My point is that could happen at an open house just as easily if not easier since there’s usually quite a few people going through the house at one time. It’s very easy for children to get away from their parents and before you know something horrible could happen.
Like I said, hosting open houses can be challenging, but if you proceed there are some items below that you may, or should have with you.
- Directional signs
- Water jug
- Open house balloons
- Reusable Balloons
- Open House Banner
- Air Dancer with Blower
- Sign In Sheets
- Shoe Booties or Covers
- Neighborhood Information
- iPhone or iPad with Cellular Connectivity
- Other Housekeeping Items You May Need
- Get Rid of Musty Smells
- The Basics You May Need
- Don’t Forget Your Cards
- Give Thanks
- Stay Productive
- Stay Safe
One of the best ways to get clients to your open house is to have directional signs that you actually put out a few days in advance.
When I host an open house I usually use two different types of pointers.
One set that I will have printed “open house Sunday” or whatever day I’m hosting the event, and a pointer pointing to the house. These are great to give advance notice to drivers by a couple of days before the open house.
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Then on the day of the event, I will either repurpose that set of pointers for use highlighting them with balloons. Or I will have a separate set that actually just says “open house today”. Of course those signs will have a pointer pointing toward the home, or I will place a separate pointer.
These are pretty easy to purchase pre-made. That is unless you want to have your specific logo for your real estate brand or team on them. In that case, you will need to order them custom.
Even then there are quite a few styles and price points or directional signs available as you can see below.
To see other options other than those above, click on any image.
Whichever route you go, the key is to plan ahead, and do not try to do everything only on the day of the event. Getting the best turnout possible is the most efficient use of your time, your resources, and will satisfy your sellers the most.
I guess you’re probably wondering why you need to have a water jug?
Well I have found that having a jug of water is a great way to be able to get the thin metal stakes of signs into the ground. Especially during the warmer months of summer it allows you to place the signs quickly, and without bending or damaging them.
What you do is you just take a jug of water or you can re-purpose one from your home, like a milk jug or something of that nature.
Have the jug of water in the trunk and then when you go to put out your directional signage, take it with you. When you place those very thin metal stakes of directional signs you just pour some water first, so that they will go into the ground easier.
If you don’t have a water jug at home or you want something a little bit more durable here is one suggestion for reusable jugs and containers. If you want to see other options, click the image.
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Open house balloons
The tried and true way to bring attention to open house signs and directional signage has always been the proverbial helium-filled balloon. Helium is not the easiest to come by, so make sure that you have that as well.
There are actually two tasks that you can do to prepare for an open house. One is that when you put out the signs earlier in the week, put a balloon on it or two to bring attention to it. The helium will usually last a couple of days if you tie it off tight.
On the day of the open house, you want to put fresh balloons out on all directional signage as well as the sign at the property showing that the home is for sale.
You may even put a few helium-filled balloon on banisters leading up to front door or entry. Just for a bit more added excitement and to bring more attention.
For the kids, you might give them a balloon on their way out, but that is optional since some parents may not want them to have one.
Something to remember is that you want to make sure that the community that you’re hosting the open house allows for signage to be put up before the event. You may also want to check it out see if they allow directional signs on the day of the event. Some communities don’t allow signs, and you don’t want to get into trouble, or worse yet, fined.
Your open house balloons can be as plain and simple or as elaborate as you want. Some real estate brands even offer them logo-ed as part of the Broker’s advertising package, so you will want to check. If they do, that will save you money, and will allow your branding to be consistent.
If they are not provided by your Broker my suggestion would be to buy them in bulk. You can also buy a reusable canister of helium, or perhaps two so you will always have that on hand.
What I usually do is put out signs on the day of the event. I will go over earlier in the morning and put the directional signs out saying “open house Sunday” or “open house today” and then put two balloons on each directional sign. I also place balloons on the listing sign too. (I do those leading up to the entrance when I arrive for the event)
Placing the balloons early allows me to be able to put them out when I’m in a more casual dress not getting hot and sweaty. Then when I arrive for the open house, I’m ready to go as that time-consuming task is done.
A new option that I myself have explored starting to use this year is the new re-usable balloons. They look great, allow you to be as creative as you want, and they are re-usable again and again.
Another benefit is you don’t need helium and they won’t pop. That way, at least one task off your list.
Just a caveat, if you go this method you won’t be able to do balloons on directional signs. Not a deal breaker, but you want to remember to put out plenty of signs so you get the potential buyers attention just the same.
Open House Banner
Another item that I have considered getting if I do a most substantial amount of open houses is a banner like the one below.
The banner is a great way to bring attention to the house being open, and an agent is present to answer a buyer’s questions. It also lets neighbors know, and that may prompt a visit if they are interested in knowing what their home might sell for.
A banner is great for getting attention, and there are banners that you could use to show your real estate firm being open, and manned with agents for questions.
Air Dancer with Blower
One of the most exciting devices that you can get, and one that I will look into purchasing should I do more open houses are an air dancer.
You may have seen these at your local cell phone store, or maybe any number of the local car lots. They are the tall, smiling tubes that usually have arms, and are filled with air.
I saw one used last summer at an open house that I drove by, and was really taken back by it. It drew a lot of attention, and I am sure it got the attention of the neighbors too.
I’m a big believer, the more notice you can give to your open house, not only the more guests, but more notice by the neighbors may mean future listings nearby.
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Sign In Sheets
A very important item that you will certainly need at your next open house will be sign-in sheets or guest registry. It’s a great way to follow-up later, and to also potentially get a new listing or buyer clients.
These days sign-in sheets can be done in many different ways. You can either use the traditional paper type where you sign in your guests as they arrive.
Yes you will need to read up on open house scripts you will want to use to get them to do that.
Another method is that you can use the various apps that are now available designed just for real estate agents and Realtors to host open houses. You can find most apps either on iTunes or the Android store.
Shoe Booties or Covers
Having shoe covers, or what many call booties available at your open house are a great addition to your arsenal.
Offering covers or booties at your event is not only a must at an open house, or brokers open, but they are great to have for any real estate showing. I suggest these be put on at ALL my showings.
Also, if you are listing a home for sale, I would suggest having these on hand to leave at the listing.
Telling your sellers that you want these placed prominently at the door lets your sellers know that you really care for their home, and its cleanliness after a showing. They will appreciate and more importantly remember it.
This is the type that I bought last, and they have met my needs. If you need another quantity, or want to read reviews, and shop for other types, just click the photo.
Also, don’t forget to get something to put the refuse booties in when the guests leave. Let them serve themselves by using one of the disposal boxes/bags.
Something that’s a great way of putting something in your client’s hands is neighborhood information. It allows you to give more information to the potential buyer, and also allows you to market to them subtally to be their real estate agent.
You will want to be pretty general on the information that you supply, but you can list resources such as schools, dog parks, and shopping destinations. You can also provide the latest statistics for the area, but keep it somewhat vague so the buyer can ask you direct questions, and you can share your knowledge.
iPhone or iPad with Cellular Connectivity
You can use any type of smart phone, and tablet of course, but you do what to make sure that they both can connect to the internet not using your seller’s WiFi.
I have found to be quite useful at open houses is to have my iPhone. During any downtime I can take calls, make calls or do anything of that nature.
But even better is also to make sure that I have my iPad or any tablet with me as well. I have Internet service so that I can use my local MLS to search for any homes in the area, pull up data, and share that information with buyers seeing the home.
Also, in my case I also use my iPad for the open house app that I use for buyers to sign-in on. Making it always easy for me to offer to them, and to get any other information that they might need.
In the end it’s great to have your iPad with you or at least your phone because you can stay productive. If you have a break, or if don’t have the best attendance, then you have something to keep you distracted while you wait for the next set of guests to come to the house.
Plus if your tablet has a keyboard, or you are good at typing on your phone you can get some work done. Why waste your valuable time just waiting.
Offering refreshments is something that you have to be very cautious with. What I have found in the past is if you are offering open house guests food and/or drink you have to be very careful with the type of refreshments you offer.
First and foremost your job is to make sure that the home is exactly the same as it was when you arrive. That means that you cannot have crumbs all over the house or even worse spilled drinks.
If you’re offering refreshments at your open house, over and above perhaps a bottled water, and maybe a small snack then you need to make sure that it’s not something that will stain floors. Also you don’t want foods that will leave a lot of mess for you to clean up after.
If you are offering refreshments at your open house, make sure you have ample supplies. Have an ample number plates, better yet just a small plate that we can be carried in one hand.
You also want to have small disposable cups that will be easy to take out in any trash bag. Also, having small ones make them easier for the guest to carry, and less likely to be spilled. And even if so, it won’t be a large spill.
All these items need to be of such that you can easily carry in, and then take out in a trash bag for disposal.
Other Housekeeping Items You May Need
A couple of items that you may not have thought. Make sure you bring a couple of trash bags with you for disposal of cups, glasses, and any leftover food you don’t want to keep.
If you’re offering a refreshment that also has to be cut with a knife or fork make sure you bring those items too. I wouldn’t suggest that type of food since it could be problematic for you to control.
In the end you wanna make sure you take all the open house refuse with you, do not leave it in the home.
Yes you are selling a home for your clients and they are aware that your marketing plans for the open house (make sure that they are OK with any refreshments, especially food), but believe me they do not want to be cleaning up after it.
If you were to leave messes for your clients to clean up, they may have a bad taste may be left in their mouth. You don’t want them to feel that way after your work to secure the listing, and your efforts to help them sell their home.
Get Rid of Musty Smells
If the home may have pets or just has a musty smell which sometimes happens in older homes during the winter months of the year you may want to have a candle burning during your open house.
I note of caution on this is that if you light a candle you absolutely need to monitor it and make sure that you do put it out when you leave.
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Also a horror story is that an agent lit a candle and an open house he or she was hosting and set it on a hardwood table. In turn the heat from the candle transmitted through the glass the candle was in and it burnt the table.
From what I understand that became a legal case as it was a very expensive table and in the end the agent basically made nothing on the sale.
By the way if you’re going to have a candle, make sure you bring a lighter with you also.
The Basics You May Need
Other items that you should have during your open house would be a notepad for yourself to make any notes. Some of the open house apps allow that per guest too.
You can also offer small notepads to open house guests also and make sure that they have your contact information on them also.
What I do is offer the notepads and personalized pens with my contact information to guests when they start touring the house suggesting that they make notes for themselves, or any questions for me should I not be immediately available.
I also suggest that they keep them when leaving. That way should they need to get more information on that listing or if they are not already working with an agent they can call me easily. My information is readily available on the pens as well as the notepads.
If you are not providing notepads another item that you might consider lending them is a clipboard. (you can buy these in bulk, and others by using this affiliate link)
You can get a few clipboards very economically, and that way a guest can use that to make notes on the listing information you will give them. Just make sure that you retrieve them when they are leaving.
I haven’t tried that method, but I know other agents that have with some success.
I thought about doing that but what I found is that for me it became a little bit more complicated for me other than just wishing the people well.
For me I had to remember to grab the clipboard out of their hand allowing them to keep the ink pen that I gave them.
Also you have to allow them to keep the listing information and neighborhood literature. I felt it made for a lot of fuss when I just wanted to bid them farewell.
Like I said for me it didn’t work very well, but I’m just not that coordinated.
Don’t Forget Your Cards
You want to have your business cards with you so you can share them with guests.
I always make sure that I have my business cards in three (3) places. One is in the kitchen where I usually have my open house supplies.
The second is that I always have a supply in my jacket since I usually wear one at my open houses. No jacket, then they are laying on the closest table to the entry.
The place I have cards is that I use a small business card holder that I put into one of the more prevalent spaces in the house. Usually on the counter in the master bath, or a room that I am pretty confident that the guest will step into the room.
I see that done at new construction homes that are part of home showcases, and it seems to be a very effective way to distribute cards. I know myself I always pick them up there, and I see other guests do so also.
Just make sure you retrieve your cards and card holder when you are preparing to leave.
A suggested way to make sure the cardholder and other items are packed up when you leave is to prepare a checklist for both getting ready for your open house and closing it. That way you won’t forget anything.
The last items that I suggest that you might bring with you would be a collection of thank you cards.
If you have a successful open house and if it is one that may be running for several hours you might have a little downtime too.
Of course we hope that you will not have any downtime in your event. That you will have so many people come through the house that you and your colleague that is hosting it with you will find that before you know it it will be over.
But if that is not the case and you do have some downtime, be productive. You can use thank you cards to prepare them to mail them to any clients who may have given you their address.
Of course, that doesn’t happen very often that someone will give you that much information. Another idea is that you could leave a thank you note in the house for your clients when they return. Telling them of the success of the open house and your appreciation that they had the house ready for you.
After leaving the house and having left your thank you card for your clients efforts make sure that you call them in pretty short order.
Let your clients know the basics of the open house. Let them know how many people toured, and approximate demographic makeup of folks who visited.
Don’t share racial makeup or anything like that but perhaps let them know if neighbors stopped by, perhaps any of the sellers friends were identified, or if the supposed demographic for the home visited.
This information will remind your clients that they hired wisely and you are using effective way to market their home.
If it wasn’t well attended, don’t be shy about telling them that either. It happens, and first and foremost you always need to be honest with your clients.
Of course there’s no way to guarantee attendance at an open house. They are very hit and miss subject to weather conditions conditions, the market, the calendar and many other things out of your control.
Don’t let the hours of an open house be wasted. Bring something with you to do but either it is something for work or something to relax.
Bring a book on your iPad, bring a stack of cards so that you can go ahead and prepare for prospecting for your next open house, or maybe even bring a course that you’re working on to improve your marketing.
Don’t waste time. Time is money in real estate and with us all working so hard these days to make our businesses successful, you don’t want to waste a minute of it.
Of course you want to make sure that you stay safe during your open house. NEVER host one alone and make sure that you bring a colleague, lender, or family member to host it with you.
If you just aren’t able to do have anyone with you, then make sure you bring your real estate agent security tools that you have at your disposal.
Being in an open house with strangers can be unnerving and it is can’t be dangerous. Always make your safety and security of the highest priority.
As I said I don’t host a lot of open houses these days, because my market really doesn’t demand it. We are very short of inventory so open houses tend to not be a very effective way of marketing. Usually the home is off the market before you can even schedule an open house. There are always exceptions.
Open houses can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way of meeting new people, sometimes you meet some people that can even become lifelong friends.
I know myself I’ve met many clients at these events over the years and I’ve been able to enjoy their company as well as enjoy the experience of buying their next home.
Open houses can also be a great way of meeting new clients, though that doesn’t happen as much as people suggest that it does.
But with the effort, you can impress your sellers should they desire an open house. Make your open house stand out, and they will not only be impressed with your efforts but will also speak about it to others.
Do you have some other ideas of how your open houses have been successful? Share them with other real estate agents by posting them In the comment section below, Also, I would love to read them.
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