Open Houses – a Thing of the Past?

“The seventies called. They want their open houses back”

At least that’s what 49 percent of agents think. But is it true? Did open houses go out with checkered kitchen aprons? NAR statistics tell us only 3 percent of homebuyers say visiting an open house was at the top of their to-do list.

On the flip-side, however, even though it’s not their first way of locating a house, eventually 45 percent of buyers visit an open house. Interestingly, repeat buyers are more likely to show up than first-timers. And, every one of those visitors represents the possibility for two transactions, a listing, and a sale.

Read on for some thoughts on how to bring the open house process into the present.

Time is on your side 

One of the aspects of the modern open house that differs from the old-school type is agents aren’t feeling locked into a particular day or time.

While the after-work open house may not fly in a commuter-centric region, in other areas agents are having amazing results with it. Downtown condos and lofts being held open during the lunch hour are also becoming more common.

Any home with a view will sell itself if it’s held open at the appropriate time of day. Why hold a downtown penthouse open on a Sunday afternoon when the city lights are best viewed in the evening?

It’s easy to mention in your listing that the patio of the lakefront property faces west. Holding it open at sunset, however, drives home the fact far better.

Market the heck out of it

Gone are the days that agents bought a display ad in the paper to advertise an open house. Today it’s all about leveraging the power of social media and advertising online at Craigslist,, Zillow, Yahoo, Twitter, etc.

Don’t scrimp on the photos and the adjectives when you write the descriptions. You want people to feel that if they miss this open house they’ll regret it forever.

Digital sign in

Many agents tell us that one of the most awkward parts of the open house is getting visitors to sign the guestbook. An old trick is to keep it by the door and tell visitors that the owner has requested that, for security purposes, they sign in before touring the home.

A quick and easy way to sign people up is to use the Open Home Pro iPad or Android app or the less-pricey AM Open House. Agents who use it say open house visitors more readily sign in on an iPad than the old-school pen-and-paper.

Open house extras

From a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to a full-on burger bar featuring a platter of sliders, food is becoming a mainstay for the real estate open house.

Whether you serve food depends on regional customs and your tolerance level for possible litigation. A lot of agents shy away from the practice – why take a chance a kid will choke on your chocolate chip cookies?

Since courts have held brokers jointly responsible with the homeowner for injuries on the property, these agents have a point.

If you want to offer your guests something, how about bottles of water with custom labels emblazoned with your brand or a CD of your virtual tour of the home or neighborhood?

If you’re the agent that has lots of promotional items, such as pens, calendars, and pads of paper with your contact info engraved on them. Or make goody bags up — like the ones you got at birthday parties when you were a kid — and fill them with promotional items.

Mike Blaney of Limelight Marketing in Vancouver Canada suggests that you should create a package of property information for your open house guests including:

  • Photographs (or a tour CD)
  • A list of all personal property included in the sale
  • Descriptions and photos of the home’s unique features
  • List of repairs and improvements, with dates
  • A list of average monthly utility costs
  • The copy of the property survey
  • Neighborhood information (including proximity to schools, if it’s a family-type home)
The bottom line

If you crossed open houses off as not worth your time, with two potential transactions riding on it and a bunch of new ideas to test, it’s time to reconsider for 2018.

Getting ready for an open house? Send 100 Open House Postcards to the closest surrounding neighbors ten days prior to your open house!

Always know that we are here to help you in any way we can.  Call our support team at 866.405.3638 if you would like help creating your new mailing lists or marketing materials.

PLUS: Whenever you have a moment…here are 3 things to check out that will help you CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. The Free 2018 Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan – Click Here

2. The Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

Also…check these out 🙂

3 Click Postcards – Just snap, tap, send all from your mobile phone

MLS Mailings – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand


Lisa Gray
Lisa is an accomplished marketer with years of expertise in direct response marketing, digital marketing, data analytics and business development working with both B2C and B2B.