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Tips to an Open House: The Seller's Side

House hunters can spend three to four months researching Zillow, prowling subdivisions and touring 10 homes in a day with their real estate agent. If a seller is eager to get out, a house for sale should be just as active. In recent years, nearly 8 percent of U.S. homeowners found their perfect-fit via yard signs and open houses. Orchestrating an event isn’t a two-hour picnic, though. From getting people to show to following up with them after the event, there’s lots of prep work, conversations and positive attitudes needed in the mix. If priced correctly, well-staged and located in a high traffic area, you can rely on a successful open house. For a winning open house, here’s some tips for sellers: 

Launch online

Once a house is ready to sell, promote it as early and as widely you can. Basically, hit the ground running. Most buyers learn about the house from Trulia, Zillow, REALTOR.com, multiple listing services, and social media. Entice these buyers through pictures, videos and the convenience of the location, such as the closest Walmart or pharmacy. Add some color to the description by mentioning upgrades, details and the age of the house. 

Post a roadside map

There’s plenty of quiet onlookers out there. Place curbside signage to draw them in and use 20-40 to capture enough attention. Organize them like bread crumbs along the busiest intersection closest to your home. Plant a few arrows tied with helium balloons every few blocks, building up excitement as they reach their potential new home. Invite the neighbors, too. Ask nearby families and surrounding subdivisions to swing by using door hangers or exclusive pre-shows just for them. Lots of people want their friends and family to move closer, or for a chance to meet with agents and loan officers they can refer back to. You never know who else has moving on their mind. 

Personal touches

 After the house is cleaned and properly staged, set a positive mood from the moment they walk through the door.

  • Open all the drapes and blinds, turn on every light in the house and burn a few candles. If you’re hosting an open house, there’s nothing to hide. 
  • Change it up. Draw in crowds and other agents by using guerrilla tactics like gift cards or snacks, depending on your budget. Vanilla and chocolate shakes sound great on a hot, sweltering Saturday, and makes for a memorable visit.
  • Pass out flyers. One stack with colorful photos and reasons to buy, and another stack with financing options to determine their monthly mortgage payment.
  • Collect contacts. Make it easy for visitors to sign in and register for follow ups with clipboards or iPads.
  • Have a loan officer ready to pre-qualify any borrowers so buyers can see how much a payment on their USDA, FHA or VA loan would be. It’s also a chance to get buyers downloading and using mobile apps.
  • Show the receipts. Set out all documents pertaining to the house: inspection reports, the appraisal or comps, major repairs and warranties, and blueprints for additions or future possible improvements.

Hide any valuables

Secure all of your assets, treasures and prescription drugs. They should be tucked away for the duration the home is listed. Sadly, open houses are a known source of thefts or casing for burglaries. Prescription drugs are highly targeted. Lock them up. 

Feedback & follow ups 

Use your contact sheet to ask each visitor what they thought of your home and if they’d consider buying it. Agents and sellers might be hesitant, but just grit your teeth and ask. You’ll get a direct answer that just might surprise you. After the event, post some pictures, tag the agent, and say how many attended, signing off with “Don’t miss your turn.” Give it some time to receive an offer and don’t expect one directly after the open house. Buyers could be obtaining a pre-approval letter and sending you an offer a day or two later. 

The bottom line: Your open house is a marketing event. Treat it as such and plan, prepare and follow up. Your sellers will appreciate the extra leg work you did to make a successful open house, and your business will likely grow.