Secrets to a
Successful Open House

Copyright © 2006-2007 Echo Farrell

Holding an open house can have many benefits, including exposing the home to the neighborhood, a passive way to get buyers (when it's a buyer's market) and the occasional opportunity for the hosting agent to meet new buyers. However, a productive open house requires a well-thought out plan and effective execution.

Proper planning begins with selecting an appropriate date for your open house. You must remember that your potential buyers have lives of their own and other activities that might take priority over their home shopping activities.

In fact, I can tell you from first hand experience that Sundays in January must be timed carefully. I threw an open house on a Sunday afternoon, purchased all of the appropriate advertising, put out my signs, and prepared myself for the big day. At one o'clock, I was ready for the hordes of homebuyers in the marketplace. It was an exceptional property with an attractive price. I expected to show off the home to dozens of interested couples.

About The Author:
Echo Farrell is a Scottsdale Arizona Realtor® specializing in residential real estate. She has over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and contract negotiations. You can learn more about Echo Farrell by visiting her website: 


One o'clock came and went, and no shoppers came to the door. Two o'clock rolled around and I was still waiting on my first prospect. What had I done wrong? Did I put the wrong date in the newspaper ad? I went to the car and retrieved the day's newspaper and hurried to the home classifieds. I was stunned; my advertising was right on the mark. What went wrong?

Anxiously, I waited out the remainder of my scheduled time. I could not understand what had gone wrong. I was scheduled until five o'clock, so I strengthened myself to push on and wait. Three o'clock came and went… And, I was still without my first prospect.

Without understanding what possibly could have gone wrong, I resigned myself to an absolute failure. I committed myself to find the reason for the failure and to never commit myself to such an unproductive day again.

Just before four o'clock, there was a tap on the door. My first prospect had arrived! Within the next fifteen minutes, I had three more couples looking at the house. My prayers had been answered.

I overheard a couple of the gentlemen talking. "That was a great game, wasn't it?" The other fellow responded, "Sure was."

I inquired about the game and learned that both had watched the football playoff game, before going to look at homes. I learned that day that I was not the Arizona Cardinals, so I should not try to compete with the Dallas Cowboys, especially during the playoffs!


So, LESSON ONE is to plan your open house around the lives of your potential prospects. Look to the calendar and the sports schedules to make sure that your planned open house will not conflict with your prospective buyer's other interests and activities.

Next, don't forget to advertise.

Select a good picture to represent the "true beauty" of the home you are showing. Learn about your property and write your open house ad copy to highlight the features that people will be most interested in having in their next home.

Your advertising copy may only cover ten to fifty words, but what you say in that copy will make or break your open house. Selecting the appropriate adjectives and adverbs will help you to entice more prospects to your open house. "Cozy" is a nice word, but it generally is interpreted by buyers to mean "small". Unless the home you are showing is small, you may not want to use the word "cozy" in your copy.

Like a great fiction writer, you should learn how to get the most mileage out of your descriptive copy. Many parents can have a deep emotional response to the word "children", but the same copy with the word "kids" will not generate the same kind of response. "Children" is a trigger word. Trigger words are those words that generate strong feelings and actions in your prospect.

Do remember that your goal is to bring the largest numbers of prospects to your open house, so utilizing the best trigger words in your copy can make the difference between showing the home to five couples or fifty couples.


LESSON TWO is to give a lot of thought to how you describe the property to readers. Use descriptive words to trigger your potential prospects to take action and come to your open house.

Advertise in advance of the open house date, and advertise on the day of your open house. The trick is that you do not know how far in advance prospects will plan their lives. Some people plan a week ahead of time, and some people react only on the day of the showing. You want to reach as many as possible, so you should begin your advertising on the Sunday ahead of the open house and keep your advertising in place until the day of your open house. Sunday is an important day in the equation since many readers only take the Sunday paper.

LESSON THREE is to advertise in advance of your showing to allow those who plan ahead to put your open house on their schedules.

Some neighborhoods do not allow a Realtor to post signs, concerning an open house. Check with the local Home Owners Association (HOA) regarding any rules and regulations concerning signage.

If the neighborhood rules prohibit the usage of signs, you should strongly consider adding a map to your newspaper advertising to help your prospects find the house you are showing. This is a good idea, even if you are allowed to post signs directing people to your open house.

If the neighborhood association does allow real estate signage, don't forget to put out your open house signs.

No matter how well you advertise your open house, signs are important for two reasons. One, it helps people to locate the home you are showing, even if they found the listing in the paper. Remember that the home you are showing most likely is not in their own neighborhood, so they may not be able to find the location easily. Second, signs can be important because they might attract the interest of passers-by who may not have seen your ad in the newspaper.

Therefore, LESSON FOUR is to never take your advertising for granted. Don't assume that people will be able to find the location of your open house based only on the home's address.

LESSON FIVE is to learn the features and benefits of owning this particular property. Prepare yourself in advance, so that you can answer all of your prospect's questions freely. Keep in mind that it is important to know the features of the home you are showing, but prospects buy homes based on how those features will benefit them.

Be prepared to offer the features of the home and to show someone how those features will benefit them in their lives. "1.5 miles from the local grade school" is a feature. "A five minute drive to the local grade school," or "within walking distance to the grade school," are the benefits.

LESSON SIX is to arrive early. When your scheduled time arrives, you do not want to be out-of-breath and feeling lost when your first prospect knocks on the door. You want to have all of your wits about you, and you want to feel like you do when you are "at home."

LESSON SEVEN seems so elementary, but many realtors forget to use a sign-in book at their open house to collect the visitor's names, phone numbers and email address. There are two very real advantages in using a sign-in book. First, home sellers want to know who have been in their home. You never know what people will do, so it is better to protect the interests of your clients to the extent possible. Secondly, it is a great tool for securing future prospects. You will have the names, phone numbers and email addresses for people who are ready to buy a home now. Don't be afraid to use those contacts.

LESSON EIGHT is to provide refreshments to your prospective homebuyers. Have cold drinks on a hot day, coffee/hot chocolate on cold days and freshly baked cookies. Additionally, make the scene attractive and enjoyable by burning scented candles and having some nice music playing in the background.

The eight lessons that I have discussed here all go towards effective preparation for your open house. You already know how to execute your plan. Effective execution is just a matter of putting all of your planning into motion and doing what you already know how to do best --- selling real estate.

the end