Strangers tracking in dirt, peeking in your cabinets, spilling wine on your new sofa. Is this an open house, or the start of a bad horror movie?
The hype around open houses might lead you to believe you have to host one of these events to sell your house. But in fact, 63% of top real estate agents said that they do not always recommend open houses, according to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Report. In most cases, regular old showings will do the trick with fewer hassles.
However, in special cases, an open house can bring the perfect buyer to the table, or drum up enough interest in your home to spark a bidding war. The trick is—you have to do the open house right so that your home sells faster and for more money, rather than being a total waste of time and energy.
With the help of top real estate professionals who have hosted hundreds of these marketing events before, we’ve boiled it down to these essential tips to pull off a stellar open house that has buyers pouring in and making offers.
Who Should Host An Open House?
How do you know if you should host an open house in the first place?
There are a few cases where it might make sense:
- If your home is unique, meaning, it doesn’t look like every other house on the block.
- If you’re located in a busy, populated area that’s in high demand.
Say you’re living in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country where you know that competition among buyers is fierce. If you’ve got a property that’s a rare find, you may want to host an open house. Now’s the time to show off your refurbished herringbone flooring and walking-distance location to local shops and restaurants.
In short, the more in-demand your house and location is, the more people will want to come to your open house, and the higher the competition will be on the offers that roll in.
“We always promote open houses for homes that we know are going to be a ‘hot house,’” explains Andrea Hartmann, a real estate agent on the top-performing Sandy Hartmann & Associates real estate team in Seminole, Florida.
“In this real estate market, they generally go under contract pretty quickly. [The open house] may bring in a buyer that otherwise might not have considered that home until they stepped in it.”
Repeat buyers, and buyers with a median income between $250,000 and $499,999 are more likely to find their next home through an open house.
If you live in an area that matches this income level, odds are, an open house is a great way to market your home—unless you’re in an cookie-cutter area with a ton of homes on the market that look just like yours.
When Should You Host Your Open House?
When you host an open house, you want people to be available to come. Otherwise, you and your real estate agent will be the only ones enjoying your freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
So, weekdays when people are commuting to and from work, picking up their kids from school, and making grocery runs are not ideal for open houses.
The weekends are the absolute best days to host an open house. In fact, 75 percent of real estate agents chose Sunday as the best day to host an open house.
The other important factor in the success of your open house is the time of day you hold it.
“…I think Saturday or Sunday doesn’t necessarily make that much of a difference” says Hartmann. “But I think the time does. In large metro areas where traffic can get heavy in the afternoon, I think an earlier open house is better. When you’re in an area that’s more like the suburbs, I think you’re going to benefit more and have more traffic in an open house that starts at 12:00 p.m..”
Those living in a metro area should host their open houses from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
If you’re out in the suburbs, host your open house between 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
You’ve Picked a Date, Now It’s Time To Market Your Open House
When you host an open house, marketing is everything.
Buyers need to be able to find your home and arrive at your doorstep without getting lost or distracted on the way. From social media to blog posts to lawn signs and word of mouth, marketing your home will guarantee a successful open house.
Post Your Open House Listing Online
We live in a digital world, there’s no doubt about it. When you host an open house, use the tool the computer gods gave us and advertise online. It is the main way people will find your home.
In 2014, the National Association of Realtors found that 92 percent of homebuyers use the internet in their open house search. Promoting your home on the internet is a cost-effective no-brainer.
Here’s where you and your real estate agent will want them to advertise the time, date, photos, description, and location of your open house:
- The Multiple Listing Service:
The MLS is the first place your agent should list your open house. The MLS is a digital platform where brokers/agents share information about what homes they’re listing and showing. If your agent hasn’t posted your open house here, they aren’t doing their job.
This private social network harnesses the power of the internet to amplify old school word of mouth. Your real estate agent can post about your open house on the Nextdoor events calendar (but not on the newsfeed). You can also add the event yourself—here’s how.
Facebook is the ultimate social media tool to advertise your open house. From personal open house announcements on your profile, to creating an open house event and targeted Ads, Facebook is an inexpensive way to get the word out about your open house. You can also post an open house advertisement in the “marketplace” area with pictures to attract potential buyers.
Arguably the biggest real estate media company out there, this beast gets all the open house searches. If you’re not on this, you won’t get found. Here’s how to post your open house on Zillow.
Like Zillow, Trulia is another real estate giant, but with a twist. Trulia incorporates 34 neighborhood map overlays and including personal statements from the community. Your potential buyer will get a full understanding of how awesome it is to live in your neighborhood. Start here and introduce them to your neighborhood.
Realtor.com is second only to Zillow in real estate website market share and provides resources for buyers, sellers, and real estate agents who are house hunting. Learn how to post your listing on realtor.com.
- Your real estate agent’s blog/website:
Your real estate agent has connections with other agents that you may not. That’s why we recommend (if they haven’t done so already) that your agent posts your open house on their personal website. Their post will attract agents in their network who can recommend your open house to their clients.
You’ll want to advertise your home on the internet at least 3-4 days before your open house.
Many potential buyers who use the internet to find your open house have “done their homework” on your home viewing the pictures, the square footage, and the neighborhood. Your listing is what propels them to come and see your house in person.
Also, don’t be afraid to post your open house advertisement on your personal social media platforms. Word of mouth that spreads through neighbors is important, but with millennials breaking into the buyers’ market, tags, shares, and likes may be an even more powerful marketing tool.
Here’s a few tips on how to make the most of your social media platforms:
Create a Facebook Event
Create a Facebook event for your open house, and make it public. This way, people who are “interested” or “going” to your Facebook event will show up in other people’s feeds. Be sure to include a thorough description and pictures of your home in the event.
Use Quality Photos
Nothing says “don’t bother coming to my open house” like a shot with bad lighting or poor composition. Here are some simple ways you can make sure that you get the best quality photos possible:
- Your real estate agent should hire a professional photographer. If you own a high-end piece of real estate, or need to market your home to sell, and sell fast, professional photos will do the trick. Anyone can take mediocre iPhone photos, but professional work speaks for itself.
- Get your home photo-shoot ready. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have a cluttered, dirty home, it will show in the pictures. Be sure to clean those countertops, put away personal items, and stage the main rooms with these budget-friendly DIY staging tips and tricks.
- Use natural sunlight to make your home shine. Open your curtains and highlight any room that has great natural light. The natural light will also make the space look bigger in the photo.
- Show off your focal points and the home essentials. Make sure to highlight the best and most important parts of your home in your listing photos. Whether that’s an incredible must-see master bedroom, a balcony view, or an open floor plan kitchen, you want to draw people in using your home’s tantamount features.
Use Relevant Hashtags
When promoting your open house online, you and your agent should use relevant hashtags on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so that buyers can find you easily.
Use tags like:
Use Physical Signage to Direct People to Your Open House
There’s nothing more annoying than finding a house you love on the internet only to have to drive around for hours trying to find it. According to Hartmann, signage is one of the top three keys to a successful open house.
“We make sure that we use an excessive amount of signage,” says Hartmann. “So, you know, if a home is in the middle of a desirable neighborhood, we’ll make sure there’s signage coming out of several directions of that neighborhood to maybe a couple main roads.”
And we do mean go heavy on the signage. Many homeowners are reluctant to put signage on their lawns and around their neighborhood for fear that it will appear tacky and drive away buyers. On the contrary, successful open houses will have between 20 and 40 varying signs posted throughout the neighborhood.
Before you make a decision on how many signs to buy, here are some important tips for your sign design:
- Keep your messaging simple, but include what visitors need to know. The more complicated your message, the less likely people are to read it. A sign that reads “open house” with your real estate agent’s phone number and an arrow will go a long way—but an arrow alone won’t cut it.
- Use stand-out colors like red, orange, blue, yellow to draw attention to your open house signage. However, don’t make it look like a unicorn threw up on your sign. Balance bright colors with neutrals.
- Sign size matters. The size of your sign is dependent on the geographic location where you want to advertise. For example, the bigger and busier the road, the larger your sign has to be. For smaller roads with less traffic, use a smaller sign. We recommend a 48” x 48” sign for larger roads with a 55 mph speed limit, and a 14’’ x 22’’ sign for smaller roads with a 25 mph speed limit.
Typically, your real estate agent will have a collection of signs that you can distribute throughout your neighborhood. If you’re looking to create some additional custom signs or just need extra, here are some good sources:
- Yard Sign Wholesale: Yard Sign Wholesale will give you 100 signs for $100.
- Super Cheap Signs: This company uses UV ray-resistant ink so that your sign won’t fade as fast. That way, the signs are easy to recycle for someone else to use.
- Vistaprint Lawn Signs: This is the one stop shop for any signs or flyers you want to print. They’re a bit more pricey, but their online reviews are stellar.
With the proper amount of signage, you may even attract curious potential buyers who happened to be passing by on their way to the grocery store.
Use Your Nosy Neighbors to Spread The Word About Your Open House
Do you have nosy, maybe even annoying, neighbors? Well, their nosiness might just come in handy. Social media and internet advertising is awesome, but just like getting your first job, sometimes it’s all about who you know.
A few days before your open house, invite your neighbors via phone or hand deliver an invitation to your open house. They may be your future buyers. In a recent study of 100 closings, 70 percent of buyers lived within a four-block radius of the homes they bought.
If they don’t want to buy your house, they may know someone who will. No one knows the neighborhood like the people who have been living in it for years. Neighbors are the people who want their friends to move in next door, so let them do the work for you.
Clean Up Your Home and Make Final Touches for a Smashing Open House
The last step to effectively marketing your home is to make the home look as pristine and universally appealing as possible. A lackluster paint job or a cluttered living room could be the difference between selling and not selling your home. Hartmann says, “It’s all about presentation. You want the house to feel inviting when you walk in…showing the house at its best will make it feel that way.”
If your home doesn’t look good when your visitors come to view the house, your hard work and preparation was all for naught.
You can “wow” potential buyers coming through your home with these tips:
- Do a deep clean of your home. No one wants to see messy countertops and dust bunnies. 89% of agents recommend a “deep clean” of the home before a viewing of any kind.
- Declutter your living spaces. You may think that your home has an immaculate interior design, but others may find it off or a bit suffocating. Hartmann says that, “To them [the sellers] the house may seem de-cluttered and bright and happy, but to a Realtor who’s only seen it once or twice, they’ll be able to give you that extra perspective that will be more similar to a buyer’s walking through.”
- Spruce up the exterior of your home. Cut your lawn, trim your hedges, pressure wash the outside of your house, and touch up the paint.
- Let the natural light in by pulling back your drapes/shades. Natural light enhances the overall look of your home and makes the space appear bigger.
- Bake some cookies or fire up the grill in the backyard! This will allow your potential buyers to feel more at ease, and provide a “homey” touch when they enter your house.
Host Your Best Open House Yet
When you are finished preparing your home for the “big day,” potential buyers need to feel comfortable and at ease in the home they’re viewing. They should be able to have an open and honest conversation about what they like about the house and, more importantly, what they don’t like. This cannot happen if you are present.
When you do an open house, have the courage to leave, and let your real estate agent do the grunt work. This way, the guests are put at ease and feel comfortable critiquing the house to a third party.
Hartmann says it is critical to trust your real estate agent’s judgment and expertise when you host an open house.
“It’s always important that the homeowners are not in the house at all during the open house because we want people to be able to speak candidly and give us their feedback. [This] will help the seller, but it will also help us decide what other information to provide to these buyers that will tell them this is the right home for them.”
We understand that it’s hard to relinquish control. But remember, a real estate agent is there to make your life easier, so why not let them do just that? You’ve put in the hard work, now let your real estate agent take it from here.