Sign Up Now

Select Page

Successful open houses


You have heard the arguments before…


“Open houses are a waste of time.”

“All I ever see are tire kickers.”

“I am only making a show for the owner.”


Yet, every weekend we see houses held open across Canada.  And while some agents abhor the practice, other real estate professionals swear by this sales method.  The fact of the matter is  that all   real estate practitioners will hold houses open during their career, whether they like it or not. If they treat the open house as an obligation, it is not likely that sales will come from their efforts.


Attitude Sells


Those who succeed in sales do so  because of a positive outlook.  If you are not enthused over the prospect of holding a house open, the chances of making the event a positive selling experience are over before the event begins. In other words, if you prepare for the worst…you will get the worst:  tire kickers!


Think about it—do you have  bad luck holding houses open because it is a waste of time? Or, do you not succeed because you never have given the practice a chance?.  Finding a prospect during the weekend should not be that hard!



Rookies and Opens


One of the greatest tools of sales is the act of effective delegation. You do not have to be present to hold a home open. Hosting an open house for an experienced agent is a must for a rookie. This gives the neophyte experience dealing with prospects and one of the visitors may actually become their first sale. If you are not actively working with a prospect during a particular weekend, sign up for an open house and make something happen! 


The experienced agent will now be able to hold more than one home open in one weekend. There is no way you could do better than having an enthused rookie represent you. Perhaps you could be shuttling between three open houses—or  showing a prospect the home yourself while it is being held open by your personal assistant! 


Goals and Opens


Would you like to reap  benefits from an open house?  First, you will have to determine what benefits are possible before you set a goal of achievement. Too many agents see the only goal as selling the home. There are many other possibilities:


Meeting other prospects looking for homes. Today’s tire kicker may be tomorrow’s sale.


Gaining feedback on the home. Instead of being defensive—listen. Perhaps you will learn why the home is not selling.


Use quiet periods to brush up on your knowledge and skills. Bring a book or video tape.


Get the word out to the area and the neighbors. Get other agents interested one-on-one….




If the key to a successful open house is correctly identifying our goals, the keys to achieving these goals are planning and preparation.


Check the date.   Make sure the date does not conflict with major events or holidays.  Are the owners going to be available the week before to help  prepare?  Is this a good date for them?

End the open house well before dark. It is now getting dark early. Prepare to leave at an appropriate time.


Hold the home open with a companion (not the seller!). Many mortgage agents will sit in on an open house with you and prequalify prospective candidates. 


Check the competition. What other houses will be held open the same day?  If your listing compares  poorly to one down the street, it is not a good idea to hold it open the same date. On the other hand, if yours compares positively….


Use the competition. All competition is not bad. Work with those holding open houses in the neighborhood.  Agree to direct  lookers to each other’s listings. Go as far as to have each other’s brochures on hand.  You are not going to keep buyers from comparison shopping. If you help them, you will come across as a market expert rather than a pushy salesperson.


Do research. Have a synopsis of competing listings ready for visitors. The question of how your listing compares is on everyone’s mind.  Visit the competition so that you can talk in first person.  I have seen that home and while it is priced $5,000 less, it is missing several upgrades. 


Check the time. While most open houses are accomplished over the weekend, there are still possible concerns. Perhaps a church is located down the street.  Holding the house open at the time services let out can lead to extra visitors. 


Sign in early.  Put the open house signs out a few days early.  This is especially true in front of the house.  If the house is located in an area which is well traveled, those passing by can take notice during the week.  If they are passing the house to and from work….your listing is closer!  




Yes, it is important to hold the open house at the right time, date and location. It is just as important not to facilitate a disaster once your guests arrive.


The owners.  You’ve heard it a thousand times—make sure they are not present. Owners do not take kindly to browsers laughing at their wallpaper choice. But do make sure the owners are reachable for questions that arise. 


Create the atmosphere. Open the blinds and bring some flower arrangements. If the owners ask what they can do, direct them to purchase fresh flowers. Some agents have silk arrangements they carry with them for such events.


Cover the flaws. If the house is to be held open on Sunday, suggest a general clean-up day as Saturday. If the owners cannot do that, then have them bring in a service. Nothing turns people off more than holding open a mess. Remember that the blinds will be open. This means that rooms which need to be painted will show all blemishes. The time to paint is before the open, not after.


Practice objection response.  Walk the home yourself ahead of time. This will enable you to direct the owners regarding what finishing touches will be needed. It will also enable you to anticipate objections. The secret to handling objections is knowing your response ahead of time. Busy streets for those with small children is an opportunity to sell the fenced-in yard.


Arrive early. There are always last minute unanticipated problems.  Do not be scampering around hiding the  toys while you are greeting your first visitor.  Be calm and relaxed!


Advertise, Advertise, Advertise


All the preparation in the world will not make traffic flow through the door. Advertising and effort will. 


Signage. Directional signs are a must. Make sure they are easy to pick up and lead to the house. Will someone in your company be holding a house open in the same neighborhood? Could your sign lead directly to theirs if it is on the way? Make sure that your brochures are available at that location! As we said earlier, make sure there is a sign in front of the house for several days before the open house. This will alert those who commute past the home during the work week.


Alert the industry. What you really would like at your open house is serious buyers. Serious buyers are most likely to be represented by real estate professionals. Therefore, you must alert the industry. This means a professional flyer needs to be supplied to all area agents the week before the open house. But, do not stop with flyers. Make personal phone calls to all agents you know within the area. Find out who is working with buyers within that price range. For those you do not reach, a personal fax works as well. Do not be afraid to ask for a commitment. 


Alert the neighborhood. The immediate neighborhood is another major target. Yes, many visitors may be tire-kickers from down the street, but do not let their appearance deter you—many of them have friends whom they know might like to live in the neighborhood. When they visit: ask them for referrals! Also, some are potential sellers.  The reasons they are looking at a roughly identical house is they are testing the waters. Ask if they are considering selling. Offer to provide a free value analysis. Better yet, have a brochure handy that explains this concept. Studies have indicated that over 50% of visitors to open houses are potential sellers.


Use the newspaper wisely. Yes, it is quite normal for just about every open house in town to be advertised in the weekend section of the local newspaper. This represents a major portion of the advertising budgets of the real estate industry. If you are going to throw your open house advertisement in with the rest…try getting some more bang for the buck. For example, get together with others holding houses open in the neighborhood and advertise together as a tour of homes.  The additional advertising by several agents will multiply your advertising dollars!


The real key: follow-up


Yes planning, preparation, and marketing are all keys to a successful open house. Even though we brought people in, we would be reticent not to divulge the real key: following-up. You would be surprised how many visitors come to an open house and never receive a follow-up call (or letter) from the agent.  Here are a few tips:


Ask them to leave an address and phone number in the visitor’s sign-in book.  If they do give you the address and they don’t respond to your follow-up call, you can include them in your regular mailings. If they are not interested now, get in position to serve them later. Offer an incentive for the visitor to provide that information. Offer to send them a free….


If you expect to be too busy to make follow-up calls the following week, (and you do not have an assistant) have a mortgage agent sit in on the open house with you. The lender can then help follow-up by calling and offering free pre-qualifications. Make sure the mortgage agent has a list of questions you would like them to use so that you receive the information you desire.


Don’t forget to ask for the business!  Many are turned off by pushy sales people. Yet, how many deals have you lost because you never asked? Sample asking statements:


Are you interested in purchasing a home?

Would you consider this home?  Have you thought of listing your home for sale? 

Do you have a RealtorÒ you are working with?

Would you like to get together to discuss the options?

Do you know someone else who is looking to buy or sell?.


Follow these simple guidelines and a successful open house will be a reality, time and time again!


We welcome your comments.