From the agent’s point of view, in many ways holding an open house is a big fat pain. Although rarely spoken out loud, the purpose of an open house is really more about gathering contacts for you – names, phone numbers, email addresses and interest in moving, than about selling the house your holding open.
That said as long as you’re going to do an open house or have an assistant hold one for you, you might as well make it the best open house you possibly can.
- Get the owner to clean up or pay for staging – the house has to look its best if it’s going to work to help sell it, or even just generate leads for you. Pay attention to curb appeal by driving up to the house and pretending you’ve never seen it before. Approach it from all directions. How does the outside look? How about the insides open the windows turn on the lights make sure the dishes are done and the beds made. People will open doors drawers and closets – just let your owner know that so they can get valuables out of the obvious places.
- Sign placement – I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to find an open house only to run out of signs before I locate the property. There’s really no excuse for this. In fact one way to avoid it is to start looking for sign placement spots right after you sign listing. You can print out a Google map, for example, and see all the cross streets and places where someone might get confused. Remember that people are driving around looking for open houses so they’re coming from all directions. Plan well placing your signs where they’ll do the most good is really an important step.
- Get the signs out early – generally you have to place signs the day of the open house, which really means the early morning. Give yourself plenty of time. Make sure you not only have the signs and know where you’re going to place them, you have an extra sign or two and you’ve got a hammer or mini-sledge if you need it to pound it in firmly.
- Start on time – if the open house is scheduled to start at, for instance, 11 AM get the doors open by 10:45. You don’t want to annoy clients, either existing or new, by being late.
- Do a walk-through – make sure it that everything’s picked up and there are no nasty surprises in one of the bathrooms were bedrooms, like a sleeping teenager or forgotten dog. Turn on the lights and over the drapes. Light invites people in and makes people comfortable.
- Your cards – place a stack of cards in a couple of places where they will be easy to spot. It’s great if the living room allows you to sit at a table of one sort or another and you want your cards there. Kitchen and bathroom counters are other good places to put your cards. And stick a bunch of pocket. That way if you walk outside with a client and they don’t have your card you can just hand one to them.
- Guest books – guest books do two things at an open house. They give the owner some notion of how many people came through and they give you a way to collect contact information. This doesn’t have to be an actual guestbook. A neat and tidy legal pad on a good-looking clipboard can work just as well. Just put name phone and email across the top and even write in your own as a way to demonstrate what people need to. Consider setting it up long ways so people have plenty of room just fill out their email address. Of course some people won’t sign up or sign in. Don’t worry about them – they probably go to lots of open houses and have figured out signing and is one way to ensure they get contacted whether they want to be or not. If you can make sure they have your card.
- Be helpful and stay out of the way – you don’t need to direct traffic. People can find their way through a house without any trouble. If there’s some feature that you want pointed out consider putting up a sign that points to it, or opening the door so it’s obvious. Mostly want to be available unobtrusively. Some will ask questions, most won’t. If someone is monopolizing your time hand them your card and gently disengage.
- End on time or when traffic slows or stops – walk through the house again picking up, collect your own gear and make sure you get all the signs down and go home and put your feet up. You’ve earned it!