Open House Redux: A Few Tips for Open House Success

In my career, I’ve had mixed success with Open Houses.  I do believe that they can be a valuable tool for attracting attention to properties for sale.  Especially if the house is newly on the market.  Or, conversely, if it has been on the market far too long, but has not yet had an Open House.


Early in my Real Estate Lady profession, I do what many newbies do.  Having no listings of my own, I offered to help colleagues out by holding their properties open.  This idea was designed to gain exposure for both the new listing and the new agent (me).

 These experiences taught me how NOT to conduct an Open House.  But, I will share Dos and Don’ts:

  •  DO clean your house!  And not just the weekly vacuum, dust, bathroom cleaning. You’ve got to do a great big spring cleaning.  In fact, you should do this before you even put your house on the active market. In one of those ill-fated early career open houses I hosted, the sellers decided to start cleaning the morning of the open house.  Potential buyers were greeted at the door with dirty mop water and the teenage son was “cleaning up” by stuffing dirty laundry into his closet.  Wipe fingerprints (and food stains) off the wall, put away the dog bed or litter box (hopefully in another state), take down junior’s refrigerator collage.  Serious buyers will open closets, look in drawers, and explore anything behind a closed door.  They do not want to be greeted by a pile of laundry, or an open can of kitchen garbage (another war story for another time).




  • DO take any and all valuables with you.  This includes cash, jewelry, keys- and anything that looks shiny and pretty and you actually care about.  That same darling teenage son who was shoving his smelly sweatsocks into the closet was in fact doing in to cover up the real loot- a couple of shotguns and boxes of ammo.  Seems he was a hunter…



  • DON’T expect to have an open house every week.  It won’t work- neighbors will wonder why your house isn’t selling, and you’ll get more and more frustrated.  Plus, it’s just plain exhausting.  If you hold your house open every weekend and it doesn’t sell for 30-45 days, everyone will start to wonder what’s wrong with the house.  Your Realtor will know what the average time to sell a home like yours is in your market and will come up with a strategy that will bring the best positive exposure.



  • LEAVE. Go away.  Skedaddle!  Buyers do not want to be trailed by an anxious seller when they are looking through their possible new home.  Buyers agents, however, LOVE THIS.  Why?  Because most sellers cannot help but spill out their deepest, darkest reasons for selling: pending divorce, job loss, job transfer, or the fact that they’d be happy to take $10,000 under listing price AND leave all appliances and their antique grandfather clock just to be done with the whole thing.  Even if you don’t have extenuating circumstances such as these, it’s just less stressful for everyone if you aren’t there.  Most open houses are only a few hours long.  Go see a movie, go shopping, go for a hike.  But do NOT stay there.


I hosted another open house where I “made sure” the sellers would not be home.  I spoke to the husband, as the wife didn’t speak English, and tried to emphasize the fact that they should leave.  When I got there, the house was dark and quiet, so I set up shop and placed my signs.  Then I heard a strange noise.  Is that water?  Should I call a plumber?  Nope.  The wife was taking a shower.  Shortly after that the husband arrived with teenage daughter and her 3 girlfriends.  I reminded him that it would be best not to hang around, as we had discussed.  He understood.  He agreed.  He left.  Alone.  Teenagers opened up their Burger King bags and had lunch while mom watched TV and the open house visitors walked in and immediately left.  Can you imagine why?



Happy Selling!










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