Because the majority of real estate agents market homes for sale online these days, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a real estate open house is superfluous or even unnecessary. However, open houses are still the number one way for buyers to check out a property in person and decide if they like it.
COO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers in Atlanta Craig McClelland, sums it up nicely: “You want to allow [the buyer] to dream while they’re in the house. It’s all about buying a dream.”
To McClelland’s point, buying a home is an emotional decision. Buyers fall in love with a feeling they have inside the home. Many buyers will attend numerous real estate open houses in a day, which means that your top priority should be coming up with real estate open house ideas to make yours memorable.
Read on for four open house strategies that will have buyers leaving your event with warm and fuzzies, and the best possible chance of following through on a sale.
1. Invite The Neighbors
One of the easiest ways to make your open house great might be the one you least expected: invite the neighbors. Assuming you like them, that is! While inviting nosy neighbors into your home might seem like your worst nightmare (yes, they will open your closets— but so will your buyers), it can actually enhance the quality of an open house in three big ways.
Buyers Can Meet Their Future Neighbors, Who Know All the Perks
First of all, people love to talk and mingle. Having your neighbors present at the open house rounds out the experience by allowing buyers to meet people in the community and discover some of the perks of living there. Who better to tell them about the school system or the great restaurant just down the street?
Your Neighbors Could Bring You the Perfect Buyer
The second reason to invite neighbors (or even your friends or family for that matter) is that everyone knows someone looking to buy. So while your neighbors themselves might not be interested in moving, it’s likely they know someone who is. If they like where they live (and most people do) they’re going to mention your home to friends in the market to buy.
They Can Talk Up Your House For You
The third reason to open the event up to neighbors, is that whether you believe it or not, they may just be your best advocates. Says top real estate agent Maribel Sotuyo of Houston, Texas, “We always invite [neighbors]— someone always knows someone looking to buy the home. But more often than not, [neighbors] go into an open house and practically sell it for you— or bring you a buyer.”
2. Pick A Theme
Another great way to approach an open house is to liven it up. Your buyers will likely go to multiple open houses per day (or in the very least that week) and unless yours stands out as memorable, it can easily get lost in the crowd. Instead of just cleaning up your home and calling it quits, work with your realtor to host an open house that feels more like a party.
Themes are a great way to add a little something extra to your event, and give your buyer something they likely haven’t experienced yet. If the style of your home lends itself well to a certain theme, consider offering food in that vein. Says real estate agent Julie Chin of New Jersey, “For example–if the home is Spanish Hacienda style–why not present delicious tapas?”
More subtle themes can also be employed- maybe drinks in a Tudor style home are served in goblets. If a theme naturally works in your home, go for it— just don’t make it over the top.
Themes can be fun without being overly cheesy, and yours should offer the buyer something they can enjoy quickly as they move through the home. Says Chin, “These days hosting an open house is about an experience even though the prospective home buyer may not have the opportunity to spend too much time at any given open house.”
3. Host An “Extreme Real Estate Open House”
Another variety of hosting a themed open house is to kick up the party a notch and host an extreme open house. These events can be costly, and are definitely meant for sellers looking to distinguish themselves in competitive and exclusive buyer markets. Often found in highly-sought after neighborhoods and orchestrated to highlight a home’s best features (for example, a chef cooking appetizers in your gorgeous kitchen), these events also serve to provide a memorable experience for buyers.
If you have the budget for it, extreme open houses are a great way to showcase your home and set it apart from similar homes on the market. Extreme open houses often include catered refreshments, prizes or entertainment, and most importantly they make your buyer feel as though they’re receiving VIP treatment.
“The [extreme] open house is centered around the idea that this property is very special and we wanted to make sure that the guests that we invited would be offered the finest food, wine and entertainment. [This house] is at the top of the market. So we needed to seek out a particular buyer,” explains realtor Maribeth McCauley Lynch of Massachusetts.
4. Throw A “First Look” Open House
A great way to generate buzz that many homeowners don’t consider is to throw an open house the day your home hits the market (or shortly thereafter). Work with your realtor to choose a time that will allow for max turnout, and market the event to feel exclusive, highlighting the “first look” feel of it. Let your buyers know they’re getting to see the home first, and this will generate a ton of hype around the event.
Says Sotuyo, “We actually list the property a few days before the open house but block showings until that open house- [buyers] will look at other homes but wait [to make a decision] until they see that open house. And more often than not, we have a full open house— people all day long.”
The key to these events is really the buzz they generate. Explains CNBC reporter Dana Olick, “If you list the home online and hold an open house almost immediately, the home can sell more quickly — and for a higher price. The higher the exposure, the greater the competition and therefore the price.”
Hosting an open house doesn’t have to be a boring affair. Follow these tips to make yours memorable and (hopefully) get more than one buyer to fall in love with your home.