Yes, you should have an open house because open houses work for both showing the property you have available and for finding new clients. But don’t just put a sign in the yard and leave the door open. To be successful, there must be some preparation.
1. Advertise – a lot.
I advertise on any listing websites I have accounts with including, of course, our own company websites. We always post open houses on the MLS, Craigslist, Postlets (which feeds to multiple websites), Active Rain, Trulia, etc. Anywhere our houses are listed, I make sure to change the ad to include Open House, the date and times. And, if possible, advertise in neighborhood newsletters and websites.
I always send a neighborhood letter the week of open house letting the neighbors know that the house is now ready for sale and inviting them to come by and take a look. I point out that this is a great time for them to “pick their neighbor”!
2. Invite the neighbors.
Neighbors are your friends. Many people know friends or family members who are interested in living in their same neighborhood. Enlist the help of the neighbors. They can also keep an eye on the house for you while it sits vacant. Another advantage is that neighbors are often interested in listing their own homes for sale.
3. Put out lots of signage.
A number of neighborhoods, especially the newer ones, have sign ordinances. One of the areas where we own a lot of homes only allows open house and directional signs from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. So, that’s when I put out all the directional arrow signs and the open house sign in the front yard. Make sure buyers can follow the directional signs to your open house from any direction. Morning of open house, tie balloons to the signs to be sure they get attention.
4. The sign in sheet.
Have all guest sign in with their name, phone number and email address. Take advantage of the sheet the following day by calling or emailing every visitor to thank them for coming by, ask them for feedback and see if you have an interested buyer! Follow-up is very important and something most people don’t do.
Have the home and yard neat and tidy. Even if you’re leaving some of the fix up for the next owners, the house and yard should be tidied up. You don’t want prospects feeling overwhelmed when they see lots of clean up needing to be done.
6. Give them a take away.
To begin with, I make sure they have a property flyer to take with them including a color photo of the house and all of the necessary information about it. Many buyers will look at more than one house in the same day and can forget yours in a very short time without a photo and information sheet.
Of course, I hand out my business card and company brochure but I also want them to walk away with something fun. We have great ink pens with all of our contact information. Everyone wants an ink pen. And, we have key chains shaped like houses with, again, our contact information. Most of the time, I also have bottles of water for everyone. Guests are always pleased with take aways.
7. Time for your Open House.
I usually do open house on Sunday from 2-4pm because that’s standard in our area for Realtor open houses. I believe most of the public is trained to be out at those hours looking for houses to view so I want to capture that already existing viewer. I have also done the same hours on Saturday when the house is located in a high traffic area and I can be assured of good turn out even without advertising ahead of time. My Saturday marketing is simply directional signs and balloons.
Make sure your open house looks light and bright. Open all the blinds to let in the natural light and expand the rooms with exterior views. Turn on ALL lights in the house including closets, under cabinet and stove vent lighting (make sure all the bulbs work). I like to have candles around and prefer vanilla, to give some scent and some accent, especially in the bathrooms.
I’ve never bothered with food because of the time, expense and potential mess involved! However, I do provide bottles of water. That’s always a hit!
10. Be Prepared
Just an FYI: make sure you have toilet paper in the house. I don’t think I’ve had an open house where no one used the restroom!
What can you add to this list?