If you’ve been in real estate long enough, you know the difference between a “meh” open house and an “omg” open house. Regardless of the price point, there is an art to a well-crafted, results-driven open house. Becoming that rock-star listing agent means that you have mastered the art of the open house. But if you’re not quite there yet, let’s go over some of the must-dos when it comes to a great open house. Following are thirteen things you can do to master the art of the open house:
MUST DO #1: Syndicate through your MLS System
Put your open house dates in the MLS system so that all the real estate platforms out there (think Zillow, Realtor.com, and so forth) can grab that information and help you advertise.
MUST DO #2: Signs
Make sure you have adequate signage. This includes 3-4 road/sidewalk signs, and a rider on the yard sign. The art of the open house is all about communication. Ample signage helps get this done.
MUST DO #3: Marketing
The art of the open house is all about marketing. Email your colleagues and clients, and post on your social media channels. Advertise in your local paper in the real estate section. Really get the word out with great images and enticing storylines. Make sure you have plenty of flyers available for your open house. You are doing more than selling a house. You are helping people find their next home, which is hugely personal and easily one of the most important things they will do besides having children or getting married.
MUST DO #4: Staging
The art of the open house is all about staging. Make sure the home is staged and immaculately clean. Strongly encourage your sellers to have the home professionally cleaned. It is not uncommon for agents to throw in staging as part of their listing package. A home that is freshened up with new pillows and towels and isn’t cluttered and full of personal items will show better. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in the home, and this is better done when the home is depersonalized and decluttered.
MUST DO #5: Smell Good
Make sure that any lingering, unpleasant odors are dealt with way beforehand. There is nothing worse or more anxiety-provoking for potential buyers than suspicious odors. A clean, nice-smelling house reassures buyers that there won’t be deferred maintenance that they may need to deal with later. The home should exude “pride of ownership.”
MUST DO #6: Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is everything when it comes to selling a home. This is all about first impressions, which can be hard to shake if done badly. Make sure the entry area of the house is as perfect as it can be. Long before the open house date, encourage your sellers to freshen up paint in the entry areas and deal with any loose boards or railings. Make sure spider webs and dirt and debris are removed. The goal is to make the entryway welcoming, safe and clean.
MUST DO #7: Refreshments*
Have refreshments available. You are the host, and potential buyers are your guests. It can be something as simple as a plate of cookies or as elaborate as mini sandwiches. The point is to have folks relax and linger so they have time to really soak in the feel of the home. Make sure you have napkins on hand and a trash can just for snack refuse…..but with this said, see Must Do #8.
MUST DO #8: Post-Pandemic Etiquette
For many regions, post-pandemic life may mean that your open house guests wear masks and sanitize. Make sure you have those things on hand at your open house. It’s also a good idea to ask guests to remove their shoes before entering the home. *With this in mind, you may want to bypass Must Do #7: Refreshments. This used to be a normal practice in the days before Covid, but eating means the masks come off. Ultimately, you want to respect your sellers’ home and help keep them safe, so it’s perfectly understandable to bypass refreshments.
MUST DO #9: Sellers Not Present
Absolutely make sure your sellers are not present during the open house. Nothing kills the vibe of an open house faster than anxious sellers hovering in the background. The art of the open house hinges on you guiding the narrative of the home’s selling points to potential buyers.
MUST DO #10: Pets
Make sure all pets are gone or at least put up in an area that doesn’t need to be accessed by potential buyers. In particular, barking, aggressive dogs should never be part of an open house. Cats also need to be put up so that they don’t inadvertently “escape” during all the coming and going.
MUST DO #11: Seller’s Home Warranty
Buy a seller’s home warranty and make this part of your listing package. Not only will it help you gain more listings, it will also help protect your sellers from expensive systems and appliance malfunctions. Additionally, most seller’s home warranties are transferable to buyers. This makes the home more enticing to buyers when they know there are protections in place once the home is theirs. As importantly, it will help protect you from the fallout in the event that something goes wrong with a system or appliance either during the listing or after the sale.
MUST DO #12: Lender Packages
Have your preferred lender generate a mortgage sheet. This can also be used to get the pre-approval process going on potential buyers who haven’t done that yet.
MUST DO #13: Buyer Agency Packages
Create a Buyer Agency Package to capture new buyers who are not represented. In addition to selling your listing, open houses are a great way to gain leads and create new relationships with buyers.
Remember: You could be only one open house away from an amazing sale. The art of the open house is, admittedly, a lot of work, but you will find it’s definitely worth it in the end.