10 Steps to a Perfect Open House

The Sunday open house is a foundational pillar to any real estate practice. If you were to ask a hundred people what comes to mind when they hear to the word “realtor,” I would assume the majority would picture a well-dressed agent hosting a Sunday open house. So why can they be difficult and awkward at times? Why do some agents seem to cultivate a good deal of business from them while others never do? The answer is a combination of professionalism, friendliness, and the Golden Rule. Seems simple enough, right?


  1. Clean signs
    1. Buy nice storage/transportation covers for your real estate signs – do NOT just throw them in your trunk after an open house. Your sign is the first impression that people get of you, it should be very clean and undamaged.
  2. Good directions
    1. Place signs in a way that is “dummy-proof.” Assume that people do not know the neighborhood and your signs are the only chance they have of finding the home. If the street takes a long curve, put an additional sign. Avoid shaded areas and make sure signs can be seen from a long way away, preferably coming from all directions.
  3. “What brings you here?”
    1. When a person walks into your open house, greet them with a smile (always standing) and ask them what brought them in. Were they driving around on a sunny afternoon and followed the signs, or did they see the property online or in the paper and purposefully come to view it? The answer to this question will tell you two things: 1) what open house marketing is working best and 2) are they serious buyers? If they found it through one of the many ways you have marketed the open house and specifically sought it out to preview it live, they are likely serious. If they are aimlessly driving and following signs, they probably just want interior design tips.
  4. Leave them alone
    1. People are generally smart enough to know the difference between a bedroom and a bathroom – you don’t have to walk them around and explain each room. Instead, allow people to enjoy the home by themselves. If there is an aspect of the home that may go unnoticed then point it out, otherwise leave them alone. Be attentive to them, be there to address questions or concerns, but do not “shadow” them, you will drive them from the open house.
  5. Avoid the topic of real estate
    1. Once people are done looking at the property, engage them in conversation. But here is the caveat: don’t talk about real estate. If they are wearing a Patriots jersey, talk about the Superbowl. If they have surf racks on their car, ask them if they got out during the last swell. Relationships built upon commonalities tend to be stronger, and lead to more business, than those built upon real estate. It is all about building trust and rapport so be different than the rest of the agents that they will encounter that day and do not “dog them.”
  6. Have comparables in hand
    1. The home you are holding open is not perfect for everyone. Many folks will walk around and realize they need more bedrooms for their kids, or an older couple will be looking for something smaller if they are empty-nesters. Before hosting an open house, be aware of several other properties on the market that would be obvious alternatives: ones that are slightly smaller and less expensive and others that are larger and pricier. That way, when a family walks out and mutters, “It is too small,” you can say, “Have you seen the 4 bedroom home around the corner? It has 1,000 more square feet and might suit your family more.” Now you have a showing.
  7. Have something to offer
    1. In a perfect world, everyone would take your business card and frame it in their living room for all to see. But that doesn’t happen. If you shove a business card into an unsuspecting hand for no real reason, I can assure you it is ending up in the trash within minutes. Offer something and write it on your business card. Perhaps it is the name of a good plumber, or maybe a website to search the local MLS.
  8. Water & food   
    1. Remember high school dances? Everyone congregated around the punch bowl. People feel drawn to areas of food and drink – so create that space! Bring a nice glass water dispenser and a plate of cookies. Conversations are much easier when there is food and drink involved.
  9. Background music
    1. There is nothing more awkward than dead silence. Bring a Bluetooth speaker and softly play mellow music to break the silence.
  10. Bring an iPad
    1. I bring my iPad to all open houses and I use it the WHOLE time. People have questions about other properties that I am able to look up and display to them in real time. I then proceed to, “I can email you this listing right now, just type your email address here.” People are much more comfortable typing in their email address on my iPad than on a sign-in sheet.


Listen, when I go to open houses (and I do all the time when I am out of town) I want to be left alone. I don’t want to sign in and provide all of my information at the door, I don’t want an agent pointing out that the little room with the toilet is the bathroom, and I don’t want 3 pages of information about the agent. So why would I do that to people coming into my open houses? Remember that you are there as a real estate expert, not as a salesman looking for their next commission. I assure you that good personal skills and providing relevant information will lead to new clients and more sales.