t’s be honest.

You don’t hold open houses because you really like strangers walking through your private residence, judging everything from your decorating to house maintenance, before raising your hopes for a sale, only to have them dropped on the jagged rocks of rejection. It is too much like dating or high school.


Open Houses are for one reason only – to sell the house as quickly and efficiently as possible. That starts with uncluttering your house, slapping some fresh paint on the walls, making all the minor repairs people tend to live with until the house goes on the market and setting a market-appropriate price. If you are really good, you might even throw some cookies in the oven to give the home a fresh-baked ambiance.

But, in an era where searching for a new home begins online for more than 77 percent of buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, upping your game can separate you from the herd, making your house the standout in a buyer’s eyes.

Know Your Market


The Internet has stolen some of the thunder around an open house, so it’s more important than ever to understand who you are targeting. Not every home buyer falls under the seductive sway of an open house. Why waste time reaching out to buyers who aren’t predisposition to sign on the dotted line? Who should you aim to please according to the 2013 NAR profile:

  • Repeat buyers
  • Buyers of new houses
  • Buyers in the south
  • Couples
  • Buyers with incomes between $55 to $75K
  • Buyers whose primary language isn’t English
  • Buyers 65 years of age and up

Traditionally, open houses take place Sundays between 1 and 4 p.m. However, consider breaking from the pack. Use your knowledge of your house to pick a time that presents the house in its best light, much like celebrities know which side of their face photographs best.


Does your house have a great view of a sunset? Hold the opening at dusk. Maybe your house looks beautiful in a particular season, but it isn’t possible to wait until the spring flowers bloom or the holiday decorations go up. Put together a picture book, and set it out near the door. Also, consider holding your open house in off hours, such as after work or during lunchtime on weekdays. This makes it easier for the groups listed above to sneak away for a quick peek.

Ambiance for all the Senses

Skip the cookies. Buyers know that trick, and it could come off as manipulation. Instead, opt for fresh flowers.

Make sure buyers can find out about your event. Believe me, thirty signs announcing the open house, starting at major highways and leading back the house like cookie crumbs, isn’t overkill. If you are holding a garage sale – always a great idea to reduce the number of items you have to move – schedule the open house at the same time, drawing even more traffic to both events.

Home buying is hard, hungry work, so make sure your potential buyers can focus on the house and not their growling stomachs. Set out easy-to-eat finger foods and cold drinks. If it’s hot out, share water bottles. You can stand out by printing a customized label for the bottle. Simply design and print one on a home printer or at a local print shop. Use a glue dot to secure it.

sell your house

Have you ever bought a used car from a seller who handed over receipts for every oil change, tire rotation, and tune up? It instills a sense of confidence in the car’s upkeep, and you can create the same confidence in your home. Do you regularly change the air condition filter? Have you painted the outside? Put together a scrapbook of your house, including pictures, receipts, and other tidbits about upgrades. Put this information, along with the house listing sheet, pictures, and other information, in a folder. Offer to email the information to anyone interested and provide CD’s with the information as well.

Don’t just push information to the potential buyer – pull info as well. Put out questionnaires in each room requesting feedback, both negative and positive. While it may be uncomfortable to hear what people don’t like about your home, it could provide you with key insights to easy fixes.

Finally, don’t forget to offer some convenience. Consider asking a mortgage specialist to attend the open house, offering on-the-spot loan approvals. Once a buyer knows they can afford the property, it’s that much easier to relax and fall in love with the home. Once your house is sold, its time to look for local moving companies to help you get packed and moved.

Reward and Connect with Visitors

People like the word “free.” It sends chills up the spine and evokes feelings of loyalty. If a $5 gift card to Starbucks helps sell your house faster, it’s totally worth it. Offer guests a small gift or the chance to enter a raffle for a small household gift. Ask them to share their email to receive the prize. Use that information to provide updates on the sale of your home. Hearing someone else is interested could spur another offer.

What are your tips for hosting a successful open house? Share them in the comments below.