Open Houses Best Practices

Clean Slate Best Practices Round Table

“We should be asking, ‘Am I ready to take on the extra business an open house will bring me?’”

– Patrick McDowell
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Kansas City Homes, MO


Earlier this year, Karlton Utter, director of learning for Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate (BHGRE®), hosted a panel of successful real estate professionals to discuss their best practices for hosting an open house. We share some of the best insights and key takeaways below.

“Get in the ‘open houses are good’ mindset.”  

– Patrick McDowell
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes, MO

Patrick McDowell attributes his success to open houses, as they are flooded with prospects and sales opportunities. The question isn’t really “How can I make an open house work?,” rather, you should be asking, “Am I ready to take on the extra business an open house will bring me?”

  • Agents should have two goals when hosting an open house: Making an appointment and making a memory. If you’re unforgettable, you’re also hireable.
  • Use theQVC Talking Points
    • Quality – “These floorboards were made with the sturdiest wood around.”
    • Value – “This house includes a brand new water heater.”
    • Convenience – “It’s only a three minute walk to the train station.”
  • Be unique and be bold. Don’t take no for an answer, always carry a contract and always get their contact information.

“Open houses are really one of the lowest-cost, highest-return forms of lead generation. And, they’re one of the easiest.”  

– Kathy Vendel
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Mason-McDuffie, CA

Kathy Vendel‘s business was built on open houses – about 80 percent of her sales, in fact. They’re free advertising and they’re all about the property. And, bonus, you have prospective clients coming in to see you, instead of you going out and looking for them.

  • Primary objectives
    • Create interest and drive traffic in the properties you’re marketing
    • Find every listing in the neighborhood
    • Search for new leads
    • Communicate your values and work ethic – give people a compelling reason to want to work with you!
  • Vendel recently (and reluctantly) switched over to the signs that have her photos on them, and in a way she wouldn’t have imagined, she’s seen an increase of interest and opportunities for conversation from people who noticed the signage.
  • Focus on the property and your attendees’ needs. Make the open house as fun and casual as you can, and know the answer to every question possible. You want every guest believing that you are the one to hire.

“It doesn’t matter how many open houses you do, how many people you come in contact with, how many people you see face-to-face, if you do nothing with their information thereafter.” 

– Lindsay Grandquest
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Generations, AL

Lindsay Grandquest is all about creative marketing.  Her events are always made to be fun and inviting, and those qualities and her local knowledge continuously bring her sales.

  • Put a rider on your signs early. Grandquest puts it up about a week before the event, and it usually just says “Open House Coming Soon.”  You never know who is seeing that sign during the week, this way you can capitalize on all that traffic. That’s why Grandquest uses the vague “coming soon” verbiage, so that people can call her for more information. That creates a potential attendee list before the doors even open.
  • Host a “themed” open house to build excitement. This tactic is one way to generate heat and business. If it’s around Easter, if there’s a park available nearby, perhaps host an Easter egg hunt or picnic.
  • Have an area for the kids and bring coloring books and crayons. Have plain black and white printouts of your logo with your contact information for the kids to color. Later, when the family is at home, they may pull out their child’s masterpiece to contact you. Keeping the kids occupied in this area frees up the parents to walk around with you, and actually concentrate on the house.
  • Follow-up is key. You have to capitalize on those contacts you’ve just made by sending out a personal note or email to every person on the list, and to make that personal connection.

“Always remember safety; keep your cell phone with you at all times, stay on the main level of the house, make sure your car isn’t blocked in.” 

– Christine Curtin
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Shanahan Group, MA

Christine Curtin is an expert in managing both the human and technical aspects of complex transactions of our business. She works in an office full of women, so safety is a particularly important issue.

  • Getting the word out means tagging your coworkers, using location-specific hashtags such as the towns or any other local hashtags in the area, checking in on Facebook – it’s personalizing your social media activity as much as you can.
  • Preparation. Know the property inside and out, from the year it was built, to the age of the roof, to the condition of the furnace. Always come to the event with all the paperwork ready and displayed. Assume at least one guest will want to make an offer so have a contract ready to go right then!
  • Always remember safety. Keep your cell phone in your hand or pocket at all times. Make sure your car isn’t blocked in, and is parked farther down the street for easy access. Stay on the main level of the house – especially if you’re alone at the open house. Keep the doors locked before and after the open house. Obviously, these are dependent on multiple factors, but always hide the owners’ valuables, including prescription drugs. Your reputation, your safety and the privacy of the homeowners are invaluable!

“The thing about an open house is, it’s not always about selling that property, it’s about making contacts and growing your business through new buyers and future sellers.”  

– Scott Lehmann
Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Sonoran Desert Lifestyles, AZ

Scott Lehmann takes special care to make sure his newly minted real estate associates are grounded in the three principles of successful open houses of Plan, Prepare and Participate.

  • Plan. Know where you’re placing your signs; know your marketing plan; know your script. Never go in blindly. Have a map of local amenities ready in case someone asks.
  • Prepare. Know your properties, make sure you know the house itself. Take the extra time to walk through it with the sellers, know how the fixtures work, so that you’re comfortable in the house. We have an Open House Kit that includes fliers, brochures, magazines with our ads, thank you cards, and sign-in sheets that you can just grab and go beforehand. Have any contests or activities should be ready in advance, and always have a contingency plan for unexpected snags and issues.
  • Participate. Be an active participant. Every attendee is a potential client, so talk to everybody. Know about all the listings in the neighborhood, know the house itself. Be excited, and always thank your guests.
  • A great idea: You know when you buy those ink cartridges for your printer and the box includes those photocards? Use them to print up a thank-you cards and bring stamped envelopes with you to the open house. When people drop by, write their names on the envelopes to remember them, after the event, get those thank-you cards in the mail right after you leave. Oftentimes the note card serves as reminder to reach out to you.

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