The 2020 Real Estate Open House Guide

homevalueleads | January 27, 2020 | Content For Agents

Step-by-Step Guide to Holding an Open House

Become an expert on open houses with our 2020 Real Estate Open House guide. From tips to ideas and answers to your most common questions, our guide provides you with everything you need to run a successful open house. 

 Our guide answers the following questions:

  • How do open houses attract clients?
  •  Do open houses work?
  •  How successful are open houses?
  •  How many open houses should you have?
  •  How much should an open house cost?

Not only can open houses help real estate agents sell homes faster, but they can also generate leads and those leads turn into more leads. That’s what makes open houses so great. They can become a positive, never-ending loop, of lead generation and home sales!

By the end of our guide, real estate agents will have acquired the foundation to run  successful open houses. That, in turn, leads to prosperous real estate agent businesses. Time to start your open house journey!  

How to Host an Open House 

Let’s jump right in by discussing how to host an open house. As a real estate agent, you’ve attended open houses. You’ve seen how other real estate agents set up their open houses. Because of the great job that your peers have done, open houses might intimidate you.

Don’t be. There’s nothing scary about open houses. Although there are plenty of steps, anybody can complete the steps. Another reason not to let open houses scare you? The steps are fun!

Before getting to the essentials, let’s answer a couple of “time” questions. For real estate agents, time means everything. Therefore, what’s the best time during the year to run an open house? And, how long should you run your open house for?

What is the Best Time for an Open House?

The fall and winter are bad times for open houses. Kids head back to school in the fall. During the winter it’s cold. The best time to run open houses are during spring and summer.

How long should an open house be?

Real estate agents differ in their approaches. Some agents prefer to run an open house that lasts from 1 pm to 5 pm. Others have tried a ½ an hour open house approach. Most experienced real estate agents say that effective open houses last for about 2 hours.

Those agents who believe in the 2-hour rule point to eagerness among potential buyers and leads. If the open house lasts 2-hours, every person who walks through the door wants to be there. There are no curious walk-ins. It means that any lead a real estate agent generates through the open house is a potential future client.

Any interested party is a potential home buyer. Try out the 2-hour rule when you run your open houses.

Open House Basics: What Real Estate Agents Require

Before executing an open house, you must plan. You can’t send out a Facebook or Instagram blast with the address, date and time, and expect people to show up. You must get all your ducks in a row. Check out some of the basic things real estate agents require to run a triumphant open house.

  • Open House Kit – An open house kit includes everything you need to run a great open house. Signs, documents, office supplies, and cleaning supplies are included in your open house kit.
  • Signs & Flyers – You must have “Open House” signs that you can strategically place throughout the neighborhood. Neighbor generated leads are often quality leads.
  • Sign in sheet – Make sure you’ve got a sign in sheet. Get phone numbers, email addresses, whatever you can for lead generation follow-up activities.
  •  Laptop – Set up a laptop so possible leads can check out the value of their homes.
  •  Advertising – Agents must advertise their open houses. Social media can make advertising a breeze.

We dive deeper into the open house kit in the next section. In addition to the above, real estate agents must provide a safe environment. We provide great safety tips at the end of this post. Real estate agents can also benefit from banding together for open house fairs and taking part in real estate broker opens. We discuss all of it in the next sections.

Preparing for an Open House

Preparation is key. Keep reading for how real estate agents prepare for an open house.  

Open House Kit 

The most important open house preparation tool is the open house kit. You want to create a kit that you can wheel from open house to open house. Quick carts are great because they provide storage and mobility. Here’s what you absolutely must have in your open house kit:

  1. Signs & Accessories

Advertising is key. Make sure you’ve got all the required advertising materials in your kit.

  • 7 “Open House” A-frame signs (sandwich board)
  • Black dry erase marker (to write address) or large typed addresses & clear tape
  • Yard markers and sky flags
  • Balloons w/helium
  • Brochures & Stands
  • Clipboards w/ Guest Log sheets
  • Property flyers in stand
  • Tri-fold brochures in stand
  • Business cards in card holder
  • Title, Escrow, Insurance, Mold, Lead Paint Brochures
  • Preparing your home/pre-listing brochures
  1. Prize Drawing Center

Remember, that the best way to get people to provide their information is to do something for free. See below for the things you require for your prize drawing center.

  • Business card collection box
  • Prize drawing entry forms
  • Prize drawing flyer
  • Pens in a pencil holder
  • Prize for drawing (large gift basket or gift certificate)
  • Promo giveaways for each guest (such as a pen or notepad)
  1. Proof of Expertise

Don’t forget that open houses don’t just sell homes. They also generate leads.

  • Maps of city or “relocation kits”
  • List of current comps in neighborhood
  • List of foreclosures or “bargain” houses
  • Purchase Offers (bring 2 paper forms, ready to complete)
  • Full set of Purchase Agreements with Riders for FHA, VA & Condos
  • Listing Agreement Paperwork (no other agents will have this nor will they freely share. We have picked up listings just by being open and offering to give them a copy at an open house)
  • Survey forms with clipboards
  1. Office Supplies

When running an open house, it’s important to be prepared for what might happen. Keep office supplies at your fingertips. Also, if you can, write out some Thank You cards if you can spare the time.

  • Thank You cards
  • Scotch tape, duct tape, and/or masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Post-it notes
  • Stapler
  • Paperclips
  • Rubber bands
  • String
  • Door stops
  1. Cleaning Supplies

Don’t turn off potential buyers and leads with a dirty house. Keep the home clean. Show up early to do whatever it takes to make sure the home is spotless.

  • Toilet paper (in case there is NONE)
  • 409 or “green” cleaner, glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, comet soft scrub
  • Small squeezy mop
  • Small trash can (use it also as a bucket for the cleaning supplies)
  • White trash bags
  • Hand towel, paper towels, sponge, gloves
  • Whisk broom & dust pan set
  • Goo Gone & old rag
  • WD-40
  1.  Open House Kit Miscellaneous Items

The following items aren’t required. You could put them into your kit, though.

  • Laptop or iPad (to write offers on the spot!)
  • Fold-up table, 2 chairs, tablecloths
  • Step stool that folds up
  • Name badge (your personalized name tag)
  • Digital camera (to take photos of property)
  • Tape measure (regular and/or laser)
  • Flashlight AND extra batteries
  • CD player w/ soft jazz music on CDs
  • Scented candles and matches (or lighter)
  • Odor eliminator spray (preferred) or aroma spray
  • Candelabra stand & candles for fireplace

 A word about the laptop or iPad. The laptop that you place into the home so that leads can see how much their homes are worth is different than the laptop or iPad you use to write offers.

Make sure you’ve got two laptops, or two iPads, or a laptop and iPad at every open house. We suggest you use your laptop for people to check out their home values while you carry your iPad just in case you must write an offer.

Top 2 Tools for an Open House: Signs and Flyers & Sign In Sheets

The most essential and important tools for an open house are signs and flyers. Check out some basics about signs & flyers that leads to successful open houses.

Open House Signs

Ugly signs are a major turn off. Make sure your signs are professional. No handwritten in magic marker signs, it’s best if you purchase the signs instead of trying to do them yourself. 

The signs must also provide direction. Set one up at the beginning of the neighborhood and then direct buyers and seller leads to the open house.

Real estate agents should consider purchasing signs with removable arrows. That way they can change the direction of the arrow whenever they wish.

There are multiple places to purchase signs. Do your research so you find the sign that works best for you.

Open House Flyers

Flyers are just as important as signs. We’ve written before. Think of it as an important reminder. Neighbors can become home sellers during your open house. Use your open house flyers to generate leads. Our thoughts on flyer templates and open house flyer ideas:

Use an open house flyer template

Search for a template that appeals to you. Use different templates for each open house. That keeps it interesting for you and the neighbors.

You can also create your own. Many companies, including Adobe, provide flyer creation. Experiment with open house flyer ideas to find what you like.

Open House Sign in Sheets

Place a sign in sheet near the front door. Anyone who enters the open house could be a potential lead. Make sure you get their contact information for follow-up purposes.

Go Digital or Paper

Real estate agents can have a paper sign-in sheet. Or, they could go digital with their sign in sheet. Some agents prefer the look and feel of paper. If you like paper, there are plenty of paper sign-in templates for you to choose from.

If you prefer digital, consider our template. You can create your very own open house sign in sheet straight from Home Value Lead’s platform by using the Open House Sign in Sheet Template and all the leads you capture through your sign in sheet will sync directly to your Home Value Leads CRM.

Staging the Open House

Make sure you stage the home. Real estate agents that don’t stage open houses lose out. Possible buyers want to know what a home could look like. Staging also implies professionalism and expertise. Keep the following in mind when you stage your open houses.

  • Don’t over stage – Clutter turns off buyers. Declutter. Also, open houses create foot traffic. Make sure it’s easy for participants to walk through the house.
  • Tell the seller to update light fixtures – Outdated light fixtures stick out like a sore thumb. Make sure the seller updates the light fixtures. Also, add newer lamps throughout the home. Turn the lamps on in rooms without direct sunlight.
  •  Use interior design tips – Employ interior design tips. If you don’t want to do this, hire a staging company.
  •  Don’t forget curb appeal – Make sure the front lawn, porch, and backyard are pristine. Also, outdoor furniture really gets buyers’ attention.

You must stage all open houses. Plenty of home staging companies exist. If you’re worried about staging the home yourself, contact a local home stager for help.

Open House Tips for Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents can do small and big things to create excitement for their open houses. The more buyers and potential leads are excited about the open house,the better for the agent. Here are a few tips for a great open house:

  1. Run Multiple Open Houses in a Single Neighborhood

It might not be possible. But if you can run a few open houses in the same neighborhood, you should do it. The more open houses, the better.

  1. Not All Properties are Open House Candidates

Know the property you’re selling. Some real estate agents get into an open house groove and run an open house for every one of the homes they sell. That’s not a good practice. Maybe it costs too much money for the seller to upgrade the backyard patio.

Perhaps, the seller was a FSBO. Generally, FSBO’s fly off the market because sellers must sell. They don’t have time or funds to prepare for an open house.

  1. Stage the Home

We’re repeating ourselves. But, yes, if you go through the process of planning and executing an open house, make sure the open house is staged. We can’t stress enough that you must stage the right way.

If it’s impossible for you to stage the home, consider virtual staging. You could set up a third laptop that shows the home virtually staged. Heck, you could set up a row of laptops that allow participants to virtually stage the home themselves.

Real Estate Open House Ideas

If you need some ideas about what to do for an open house, this section is for you. Check out open house ideas that are sure to get mind wheels moving.

  1. Cook up an Open House BBQ

Run an open house barbecue. It’s a three-step process: a) start with a theme, b) offer free barbecue, c) invite the neighbors. Check out our post for more open house barbecue tips.

  1. Get with Peers and Run an Open House Fair

There’s strength in numbers. Why not run an Open House Fair?

What’s an Open House Fair? An Open House Fair is a promoted group of open houses in one neighborhood on a given day. There are multiple reasons to do this. Although real estate agents are competitors, they aren’t competitors with the same listings.

Not only that but agents can cut advertising costs. They can even cross-promote on their social media platforms.

  1. Create a Real Estate Broker Open with Peers

A cousin of the Open House Fair, the real estate broker open runs just like an open house fair. The difference? While an open house fair is for neighbors and buyers, the real estate broker open is for real estate agents with buyers.

There are two stages: the marketing meeting and the open house viewing. Check out what happens during the marketing meeting.

“At the marketing meeting, sometimes also known as a pitch session, real estate agents with listings will boast about the features of their houses, in an attempt to get you to view their open house today.  Then, agents with buyers in their back pockets will tour the houses, scouring the inventory on behalf of their buyers.”

  1. Summer Months Open House Ideas

The summer months are the best time for open houses. The weather is warm. Kids are on vacation. Things slow down during the summer. Check out a few things real estate agents can do to attract open house visitors during the summer months:

  • Set up a bouncy house in the backyard – Kids love bouncy houses. It also gives parents a chance to roam around the home while the kids are playing in the bouncy house. Make sure to advertise that there will be a bouncy house. You want parents to bring their children to the open house.
  •  Barbecue – It’s the summer. All open houses, if possible, should be Open House BBQs.
  •  Give boat rides if the property is near water – Real estate agents can only do this if the property is near a lake or other body of water. It’s effective. So, consider doing this if you can.

No matter the idea, you must remember two words, fun and exciting. If your idea creates excitement and visitors have fun, you’ve done your job!

How to Market Your Open House

It’s important to advertise your open house. We can break up open house advertising into 3 categories: paid-for-advertising, social media advertising, and unique marketing strategies.

  1. Paid-for-Advertising for Open Houses

Think before paying for advertising. After all, nothing beats social media and person-to-person marketing. If you insist on paying to advertise your open house, consider digital local newspapers. The ads are cheaper than on local television or radio.

  1. Social Media Advertising for Open Houses

Facebook and Instagram remain a great way to generate leads. Use the HVL Facebook Advertising platform to discuss to run an open house ad. Check out our Facebook for Real Estate Lead Generation Ultimate Toolkit Guide to learn anything and everything about Facebook advertising.

  1. Unique Open House Marketing Ideas

We already mentioned Real Estate Broker Opens and Open House Fairs. We can put both ideas into this category.

You can also run an Invite Only Open House. This works when real estate agents know who might want to buy a home or property. By inviting the top potential buyers, agents make the open house exclusive. That’s good to sell the house. But you might not generate leads with this method.

The Open House Every Day marketing method invites people to call you when they wish to view the home. Place a sign on the lawn telling people to call you at a specific number if they wish to view the home.

The method works because people have the luxury of viewing the open house on their terms. Like the Invite Only Open House marketing idea, you won’t generate many sales leads. You will find interested parties right away, though.

Another unique marketing method is to partner with a local business. Perhaps, there’s a local bakery who might want to provide the refreshments at a discount or even for free. You should befriend local businesses anyhow. Partner with them to increase your open house marketing.

Hosting an Open House for Another Agent

Often, it’s difficult for new real estate agents to build their book of business. A good way for new agents to get going is to offer to host an open house for an experienced agent. Successful agents run out of time. They can’t host open houses in two different locations.

If they host multiple open houses in the same neighborhood, they can’t possibly be in multiple places at once. Volunteering to help a successful agent can boost a new agent’s career.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you decide to ask another agent to host an open house for you or if offer to help an agent with an open house.

1. Some agents get paid to host – Some agents insist on getting paid to host. Those that do insist on payment have experience. So, consider hiring an experienced agent if you’re worried about how a new real estate agent will perform.

2. You can do open houses for other brokerages – If you’re new, don’t even attempt this. But, if you’re an experienced agent and your brokerage has a friendly relationship with a different brokerage and they’re in a bind, why not?

3. You can host an open house on another agent’s listing – The details are between you and the other agent. But the agent wouldn’t have approached you to host unless they needed help.

There are no rules when it comes to hosting an open house for another agent. The benefit for new real estate agents are name recognition and the ability to build their businesses. For experienced agents, they can concentrate on the high-value properties while outsourcing lower-value property open houses.

Safety Tips for Your Open House

We saved the most important section for last. Real estate agents must keep safety top of mind during four open house stages: preparation, open house set-up, during the open house, and after the open house.

  1. Safety Tips for Open House Preparation
  • Schedule the open house only for daylight hours. In the winter, you’ll need to close before dark, which could be quite early.
  • Have at least two people to help you. Ask your spouse, mortgage lender, vendor, or business partner to accompany you.
  • Charge your cell phone fully. Use safety apps and emergency contacts who know your back-up plan.
  • Check in with a friend or relative to let them know where you plan to be, and what times you will be there.
  1. Safety Tips During Open House Set-Up
  • Call your friend or relative to let them know you are in the house safely. Ensure your phone has a strong signal or there is a landline available.
  • Open curtains and turn on the lights.
  • Become familiar with the house. Walk through potential escape routes in case of an emergency.
  • Set up a guest log or sign in sheet and require that each guest register their name, phone, and address.  Require them to show ID.
  • Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out during the open house.
  • When guests arrive, write down descriptions of their car and them.
  • If you don’t feel safe, call the police and ask them to drive by the house and check out the neighborhood.
  1. Safety Tips During an Open House
  • Set up your guest sign in log right at the front door.
  • Sit at the front door where you can see each person coming in and monitor the cars coming and going.
  • When showing the house, let them walk in front of you. Don’t go inside of bedrooms or bathrooms; in fact, stay near the front door.
  • Your partner can escort one family through the house at a time while you wait in the front room with the other guests.
  • Keep your cell phone in your hand, not plugged in across the room from you.
  • Make sure the front door is always kept open and in plain sight of the neighbors.
  1.  Safety Tips for After an Open House
  • Ensure that every guest has left the property before locking all the doors and shutting the curtains.
  • Call your friend or relative to let them know that you are leaving the house.
  • If you notified any neighbors, let them know that you are leaving.
  • Write a brief note to the residents, thanking them.

Safety is the most important aspect of running an open house. If something happens during the open house and it’s your fault, your reputation can be ruined beyond repair. Always make safety top-of-mind for every open house you run.

Plan & Execute Successful Open Houses in 2020

We hope you enjoyed reading our 2020 Real Estate Open House Guide. We’ve covered a ton of subjects in this guide. Keep it handy with you. Refer to it as you start your open houses this year.

 Also, make sure to check out our seller landing pages, we have one of the best and most affordable softwares in the industry. We also provide a Facebook Advertising platform that can explode lead generation. Sign-up for a 14-day free trial today!

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