What are your favorite open house techniques

Besides advertising, for an open house I like to provide refreshements, music and fragrance.  I bring a portable music player, I like to bring candles and room freshners. When the guests first walk in the~ home needs to smell good & sound good.
Although I can't change the building structure, I can do these little things that can contirbute to a plesant visit and enhance the visit.  What do you like to do that is simple yet effective to help your open houses?
  • June 03 2010 - Bothell
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Answers (22)

Profile picture for wetdawgs
Please note from a buyer's perspective: If you chose to use artificial fragrances (including scented candles), you would not have me coming in the house for more than 1/2 second.    I walk out of approximately 10% to 20% of the houses I've visited because of fragrances (and don't go back).

Bread baking and fresh flowers are fragrances that are okay.  The others scream "this house stinks, so the odors must be covered up" (rather Victorian, no?)



  • June 03 2010
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We only do Broker Opens in my neck of the woods for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that we are at least 90%  a resort and second home market. 

What I do to get the "buyer agents" to my "broker opens" is that I make a full lunch for them.  This is usually my famous home made lasagna, garlic bread and greek salad.  This is a huge hit and it is pretty much the only lunch I know how to make too!.

Some agents have a raffle for a prize and that seems to work pretty well too.

I also try to alert attending agents to listings that are in the works and that will be listed soon.  I also make sure there are listings near mine the week I do a broker open. 

The third and final thing I do for my clients is if by some fluke the Broker open is not well attended, I then do a second broker open when there is another open house very close to my listing in the future, and if the home has not sold at that time. 

It is all about doing whatever we can to help our clients meet their goals!
  • June 03 2010
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Always great to send invites and advertise that you have another great industry professional on site with you (ie: lender, short sale negotiator, stager, etc). The best open houses are the ones where potential buyers want to come see you and/or your team to get some questions answered. Even if they aren't interested in the house they will be interested in the great resources and information you are providing! And as I am sure you are aware there is a week's worth of preparing/marketing to make a great open house! :) Good luck.....let us know when you are doing your next one. 
  • July 26 2010
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Regarding"fragrances"...

My preference is "no odor". The smell of cookies in the kitchen is fine, but "perfumes" in the rest of the house is off-putting at best, at worst it makes me wonder what is being covered up.
  • July 26 2010
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Profile picture for Mr Caveat
fresh bread baking, banana breads, coffee cakes or cookies are all excellent fragrances. i am completely with wetdawgs and socal, i would walk from a fine smelling overfragranced house, what is interesting is that if there is a moldy or mildew or other more foul smell (ammonia, etc) i would still complete the walkthrough and consider the offer, because i like tackling those types of projects. i just dont have the stomach for the darn scented candles. never ever mix the smells of breads/ cookies/ baked pasta with scented candles that turns almost everybody off.

non scented candles irritate me too because the smoke damages the paint. any sound should be just barely audible with a slower tempo that doesnt make the buyer feel rushed or distracted

another turnoff from the buyer's PoV is the personal questions about whether an agent is helping me look or whether i live nearby and what kind of house i live in and what my mortgage is and why i came to the open house. if i am going to hire any agent at an open house, it will be the one working her but t off to sell, get this, THE HOUSE.
  • July 26 2010
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Profile picture for BrianlovesAlice

Baking cookies or bread is a good idea.  I agree with the others.  I don't like frangrances at all!  I have a friend who is allergic to much of that stuff, so you should keep that in mind as well. 
I recently walked through a house and they had soft music in the background.  It really did a good job of making the house feel "homey" and comfortable.  I plan on doing that with my open house on Sunday!

  • July 30 2010
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Profile picture for Debbie Holmes
When there a lot of houses for sale I like to contact the other agents and have all the homes open so we have more draw....   I have been known to bake cookies but that presents problems if you get busy and burn them.... I wonder about providing bottled water in the summer when the buyers might be getting hot and uncomfortable.  I think I will do that.  There was one open house that was dirty and I cleaned during the breaks.   Mostly I like good signage, a newspaper ad (not critical in my market), Craigslist ad, Zillow ad, website ad and put it in remarks of the listing.  If its summer I want the air on so the buyers are comfortable when they enter.  If its winter I want the heat comfortable. 
  • July 30 2010
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I sale 80% of my homes when I do my open house event.  The secret is the price must be with 5% of selling range, the open event must be held on both Saturday and Sunday the first weekend it's listed and the Seller must offer a open house event bonus equal to 1% of the asking price.  There must be 2 people hosting the event, you need an intent list for the visitors to register on in order to qualify.  And then of course, you need special flyers for the flyerbox, bake the cookies, have some giveaways, invite the neighbors, post it on FB, NWMLS and company's website, put out a-boards with sign toppers and balloons and get the Sellers the heck out of there!

Let me know if you try this strategy or would like more info.
  • November 23 2010
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Profile picture for the_country_hick
Regarding Deborah's idea of serving bottled water please no. As a buyer I want to taste the water the house has. Offer some throw away (or real) glasses so I can get a drink of what I will be stuck with for a long time IF I buy that house. Offering bought water suggests the water in the house is not drinkable.
  • November 23 2010
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bake instant cookies, so the lookers can't smell the cat piss...
  • November 23 2010
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Profile picture for Libby Kirwin
Personally I stay away from the candles. It always seems to say " something is being covered up" elegant dining room candles in a candelabra  or a bathroom candle is pleasant but a real odor from a scented candle screams cover-up! I like to make sure the lighting, temperature is right on! As a customer , just like when you are walking into a luxury hotel, you want to be greeted with a smile, guided and have your questions answered thoroughly. The open house is about customer service for both the buyer and the seller. Some agents feel open house are out dated? I think it is still on of the best ways to give  the buyers a relaxed moment to view the property. Getting reactions from customers walking through a home is great information to give back to your seller. It may help when you need to discuss staging , cleanup and price reductions with your sellers. The information collected at an open house is priceless!
  • November 29 2010
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Be prepared! Bake cookies while getting the open house ready. Make sure all of the lights are on. Open window to get some fresh air in if the house is vacant. Make sure your open house is "signed" well to direct traffic. Invite all the neighbors the week before. Have an information table for property flyers, printouts of other open houses in the area and other available listings.
  • December 03 2010
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I like to start off the day before by creating so flyers and walking the neighborhood or area im about to do the open house on maybe 2 days before talking about the up coming open house that will be held other than that and online advertising about the open house thats pretty much it besides the balloons and signs a few hours before so i can try to get traffic's attention
  • December 03 2010
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Profile picture for abbylsantos
I like to put signs on the yard sign during the week before the open house advertising that it will be open on Sunday or Saturday, whichever day it is.  People driving by see that ahead of time and get another reminder that the home is for sale and of an opportunity to come in.  Also posting the open house ad on all my sites including Zillow has been very effective.

Abby Santos
Windermere West/Campus
  • December 03 2010
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Good topic - especially in this market. I recently had a listing in Bothell sell via an open house.

Some of the tactics I used were:
- Flyers delivered a couple days before the Open House
- Cookies (for that "I'm Home!" feeling).
- Signage with Balloons.
- Future city plans all laid out for buyers to see.
- A "take home" piece for each buyer to take along with the listing flyer.
- I held the Open House on a weeknight

I know a lot of agents simply won't do, or don't like to do Open Houses - but I think it's important to be trying several different marketing tactics to put each client's home in a position to sell...Open Houses being a part of that!

Ryan Halset
Realtor ® | Bothell, Wa
  • December 15 2010
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Profile picture for SeattleHome.com
There are unique situations that lend themselves well to open houses (new construction multi-unit, high walking-traffic area), but in general the sales numbers just don't bear out, year after year.   Clients' and agents' time is better devoted to other practices, in most cases. 

As a sales tool for the agent it can be nice, but it's usually not much of a sales tool for the individual home.
  • December 18 2010
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Profile picture for rockinblu

Have some brownies (you know the kind I mean), and play some Marley, Dylan,  and Pink Floyd. Even the worst crapshack will seem wonderful....

  • December 18 2010
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Sprinkle a little bit of vanilla extract on the stove and then turn it on. It makes the house smell like you just baked a loaf of fresh bread.
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  • December 21 2010
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Profile picture for droopyd
As a potential buyer, I don't want to be served snacks or drinks, although I would like to be able to ask for a glass of water on a hot day.

I don't want music or other entertainment, or any artificial smells wafting through the house.

And I don't want the owners/residents around.

I do want a one-sheet available with info on the house and neighborhood.

And I do want an agent who is friendly but not overly pushy or clingy, and who can knowledgeably answer questions about the property (not some "assistant" or "trainee" who doesn't know squat).



  • December 22 2010
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I put the announcement on numerous internet sites to advertise, put an "open Sunday" rider on the sign post mid-week. The day of the open house I get some smiley face balloons for the directional signs, bring some snacks/water and sometimes "gifts" for the potential buyers.  Plenty of business cards, and a sign in sheet along with some info from the lenders and other valued partners that I do business with.  I always have my real estate relationship forms visible, as well as buyer agreements handy. 
  • December 22 2010
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Rhonda, looks like you've received the 'full spectrum' of responses.

Fragrance - yes & no
Feed them - yes & no
Open house worthwhile - yes & no
Music - yes & no

However, there are several comments of note. The most important consideration is: "What is your goal for the Open House?" This goal does not need to be made public, but you should certainly have one and then provide the infrastructual to make it happen. A truly faulty goal is one that sounds like, "To demonstate to the homeowner I am working on their behalf."

If the goal is to sell the home, I do believe Jack Emmons suggestions are certainly worthy of presenting to the homeowner. Finally, whatever the goal for an Open House may be, you must NEVER conduct an Open House alone! Besides, you will be way too busy to benefit from the event without a wingman to keep you free to take care of the real business.
Good luck with your open house.
Annette Lawrence
ReMax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, Fl

  • December 22 2010
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I have a listing that the owners home smells like a perfume bottle. I want to get rid of the smell. Can anyone help me on this.
  • January 08 2011
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