When it comes to open houses, many agents have already given up. Sure, they still spend thousands on online ads, but somewhere along the way, some (negative) agent convinced them that open houses “don’t work.”
Meanwhile, agents who study the best real estate open house ideas are filling up their team’s customer relationship management (CRM) system with leads that are perfect for nurturing campaigns.
In order to get you thinking outside the box about lead generation, we talked to 29 top-producing agents and got them to give up their best real estate open house ideas for 2021:
1. Run a Facebook Live Stream at Your Open House
What better time to stream and record a video walk-through of your listing than when it’s full of people? Remember, people want what other people want.
Here’s online marketing visionary Gary Vaynerchuk on the benefit of livestreaming your open house:
“I can envision a hotshot real estate agent streaming live from an open house while talking to potential clients. Potential buyers will be able to view the house remotely and ask relevant questions that the real estate agent can respond to and show in real time. Think about all the house-showcasing programs that took television by storm in the late ’90s and into the 2000s. It’s MTV cribs made even more compelling with livestreaming.”
Once your video is recorded, you post and boost it on your Facebook page for even more traffic.
One of the most frustrating tasks after a successful open house is trying to read people’s sloppy handwriting on your sign-in sheet. The difference between a J and a D could mean the difference between an awesome lead and no lead at all.
Luckily, in 2021, we have Spacio, a HomeSpotter app, which allows agents to have people sign in on a tablet, ask custom questions, and send all their contact data instantly to your CRM, where you can sign them up for nurturing emails or come back later and follow up by phone with the hot leads.
You can even gain social insights on verified contacts in real time to help facilitate in-person relationship building during an open house. Try Spacio out at your next open house with their free 30-day trial.
3. Use Slydial Broadcast to Circle Prospect
Slydial Broadcast is a very special app that lets you leave an automated voicemail on your lead’s cellphone without ringing their phone. Since each voicemail sounds like it was left by one of your agents, engagement rates are through the roof.
All you need is the software, a do-not-call (DNC)-scrubbed list of contacts, and a great open house to promote!
Here’s a great trick I learned from a Manhattan listing agent in SoHo. Since most people will have a very hard time trying to visualize how a space will look with different furniture in it, why not offer your visitors staged images that show how that extra room will look as an office, a nursery, or a man cave?
As you flip through the staged photos on your iPad, offer to email (or better yet, text) them the pictures.
While this can get pricey with traditional virtual stagers, Fiverr offers virtual staging for as little as $5 with a quick turnaround. Their image enhancements will go a long way in making your pictures pop online.
5. Skip the Alcohol
One of the most common questions we get from new agents is whether or not to serve alcohol at open houses. On the one hand, people love booze, so you may get a better turnout. I have friends who would go to a dictionary reading if there was free wine involved.
That said, unless you’re running an open house strictly for high rollers, best practices say to avoid the libations. Here’s why:
First and foremost, “social host liability laws” in some states mean you could actually get sued if someone drinks too much and gets hurt leaving your open house. Second, like dead weight on your email list, a room full of people who just showed up for the free chardonnay will distract you from the good prospects.
While you might not have many open houses scheduled these days, following up with your visitors is a crucial skill every agent needs to learn. That’s why we created seven handy follow-up email templates you can use to convert them to clients down the road. Click below to download it for free.
6. Remember That the Money Is in the Follow-up
Let’s face it—the odds of a random person walking in the door to your open house and putting down an offer are slim. Like all lead gen, the money is in the follow-up. The only problem is figuring out who you need to follow up with, and how often. If you want to compete with the big dogs, guessing won’t cut it anymore.
Luckily in 2021, we have predictive analytics apps like SmartZip that use a billion (yes, really) data points and artificial intelligence (AI) to tell you who is likely to move way, way before they even think about an agent. In fact, SmartZip’s AI is so accurate they predicted 72% of all listings in the U.S. last year.
7. Focus on 3 Features That Make Your Listing Stand Out From Your Comps
Richard Schulman | Keller Williams, Los Angeles (Ranked #1 KW Agent in Los Angeles)
“I recommend that agents do their homework on the MLS and find at least three features that their listing has that other comps don’t. Does it have more square footage? Larger bedrooms? Higher ceilings? Being able to confidently rattle off three hot sales features that make your listing unique will show off your market knowledge and help sell the listing.”
8. Invite the Neighbors for a Sneak Peek With This Simple Script
Whether you’re just starting out in your farm area or have been working it for years, getting the neighbors to your open house is always a good idea.
Many will be moving soon, or even better, will have friends and relatives who want to move into the same neighborhood. When it comes to getting referrals, a face-to-face meeting is worth 100 emails.
Not surprisingly, real estate coach Tom Ferry recommends door knocking to invite the neighbors over for a neighbors-only preview.
Check out his simple script in this video (the video starts right at the script, but has some great advice as well).
9. Hold Other Agents’ Open Houses & Make It a Win-Win!
Sean Moudry, Real Estate Coach & Close Contributor
Do you specialize in a neighborhood but don’t have any current listings? Stop worrying and start asking! Ask the other listing agents in your neighborhood if they would allow you to hold their listing open. As a listing agent, I have allowed agents from other brokers to hold my listings open (especially if it is across town from me). I saw this as an additional service to my seller.
To make it a benefit to the listing agent, agree to pay them a 10% referral fee for any client you pick up from the open house. If they don’t object, use your own branded open house signs to further build your brand in your neighborhood.
10. Give Your Open House a Quick Boost on Hyperlocal Social Networks
Boosting posts on Facebook and Instagram can work well, but at the end of the day, you’re still paying to reach people who could be hundreds of miles away. Great for brand awareness, but lousy for actually getting people through the door.
Nextdoor is an under-the-radar option to laser-target people who actually live near your listing. Even better, people use Nextdoor to discuss local issues, not argue about politics or look at cute cat videos. They have one of the most engaged local audiences online today.
Nextdoor’s advertising options are affordable, and there’s no long-term contract. Get in now before everyone else in your farm area discovers it.
11. Promote Your Open House Video Walk-through as an Instagram Story
Tyler Zey, Easy Agent Pro
Are you active on Instagram? Why not use Instagram stories to promote your open house and Facebook Live Stream?
Here’s Tyler from Easy Agent Pro:
“You can also use Instagram and Stories to promote a Facebook Live Stream for an open house. Fact: There are WAY more people on Facebook than there are on Instagram. So try using Instagram posts and Stories like this:
“’Showing a crazy nice house right now (or from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., or whatever) on Facebook Live. Use the link in my description to check it out!’”
Want more great open house tips? Check out Easy Agent Pro’s quick video on how to get more leads from your open houses below.
12. Create an Affordable Virtual Tour for Social Media
Just a few years ago, virtual tours were very expensive. You needed a $5,000 camera and a $90 per month subscription just to get your tours online. New agents without big budgets were out of luck.
That’s where Asteroom comes in. Asteroom is an innovative new startup that lets you create viral virtual tours for social media with your smartphone starting at ZERO dollars per month with a free trial. All you need is an $89 attachment for your phone. That’s it!
Smart buyer’s agents are now using Asteroom to make virtual tours for every listing they preview (with the listing agent’s permission, of course), and racking up followers, phone calls, and sales.
3 Great Tips From Climb Real Estate SF
To help write this article, we wanted to see what agents on the ground were actually doing at their open houses these days. In order to see what agents in big cities were doing, we reached out to three agents at innovative San Francisco brokerage Climb Real Estate.
Here’s what they told us:
13. Hold Raffles or Contests
Kenneth Er, Senior Sales Associate
“I usually hold a raffle at our open houses and advertise it over Facebook and Instagram. Items we’ve raffled off include gift cards, Google Home, Alexia, and more. This really entices people to come to your open house.
“I also host two open houses—one for just the neighbors, and the other for the public. Oftentimes neighbors come to open houses and aren’t looking to buy, but they still enjoy talking with you and learning more about the house. This is great but can take a lot of time away from speaking to potential homebuyers. Separate open houses ensure you’re taking care of both the neighbors and the public. It’s also great to converse with the neighbors as you get to know them and their thoughts on the area. There’s also usually wine, cheese, and sometimes a gelato cart, which can’t hurt!”
14. Give Your Guests Chocolate, Floor Plans, FAQ & HOA Information
Leslie Bauer, Senior Sales Associate
“When potential buyers come to my open house, they can always expect chocolate. I put chocolate in all the rooms for that sweet, personal touch. I also make sure to have printed floor plans at the home so that when people are walking around, they can start picturing their own furniture in the unit. In addition, I have frequently asked questions (FAQs) sheets available that cover interesting facts about the building, homeowners association (HOA) information, rental restrictions, what’s around the area (grocery stores, entertainment, coffee shops, and so on), and more. When you walk away from my open house, you’re walking away with a ton of crucial information that gets potential buyers one step closer to owning the home.”
15. Provide Your Guests an Automatic Bootie Machine & Welcoming Signage
Sandy Siscko, Broker Associate
“We bring in an automatic bootie machine to help older buyers coming in to our open houses. Sometimes it is difficult for them to take their shoes off or even bend down to put booties on, so we make it easier for them! All they have to do is step in, the machine puts the bootie on for them, and then the tour can officially begin!
“We also put up a framed sign saying ‘Welcome to our open house. Look around, ask questions, see yourself living here, fall in love, make an offer.’ It’s a cute, subtle push to help out!”
5 Great Tips From Douglas Elliman Agents
We also reached out to our friends over at Douglas Elliman to get their take. Since Elliman was founded in 1911, they’ve become synonymous with luxury real estate across the country. So safe to assume they know a thing or two about open houses!
16. Hire a Photographer to Take Pictures of Buyer’s Agents & Guests
Eleonora Srugo, Douglas Elliman New York City
They say if you want to get a real estate agent to like you, allow them to like themselves. Hiring a photographer to take pictures of them in action at your open house is a great way to do that. What agent doesn’t want more pictures of themselves for social media? Pictures of people enjoying themselves at your open house will also work great in your next listing presentation.
17. Place Signs to Call Out Unique Features in Different Rooms
Leigh Stubbs, Douglas Elliman Texas
“Use small easels to create signage in rooms that have important features to highlight, especially things that aren’t clearly visible like a built-in towel warming drawer, a laundry shoot, floor heating, and so on.”
18. Give Out Small Branded Gifts as Party Favors
Susan Sanchez, Douglas Elliman Long Island
Elliman Long Island agent Susan Sanchez gives out small branded gifts to her open house visitors so they will bring something back home with them they might actually keep. She suggests something useful like dishtowels, potholders, compact mirrors, or change purses.
19. Work With Agents Who Have Nearby Listings & Plan an Open House Day Together
Aileen Murstein, Douglas Elliman Long Island
One of the most surprising real estate lessons many agents learn too late is that you should see your fellow agents more as collaborators than as rivals. A great way to do this is to try to find agents who have listings near yours and plan and promote an open house day together. Not only will it let you pool resources, but more than one open house in a neighborhood will be a bigger draw for curious neighbors.
20. Record Your Open House & Post on Social Media or Use for Your Branding
Luis Dominguez, Douglas Elliman Florida
If you’re expecting a big turnout, why not record the event and post snippets of how well you can fill a room on social media? You can also create short videos that you can put together on a sizzle for your YouTube channel or as part of a montage for a video listing presentation.
More Great Real Estate Open House Ideas
21. Create a Unique Experience for Luxury Open Houses
Carol Cassis, The Cassis-Burke Collection, Brown Harris Stevens
“In order for our buyers to get the full feeling of the lifestyle of the property, they have to live in it! For a four-hour open house, we recreate the essentials of a unique experience at the property. We usually have a yacht outside of a waterfront listing.
“We also offer fine champagne and hors d’oeuvres to tour the property while we explain the uniqueness of it. We stage exotic sports cars to show ideas of what to do at the front entrance,” says Carol Cassis. “We cater to the client who expects top-notch marketing and services, whether it be celebrities, jet setters, Fortune 500, CEOs, or cryptocurrency millionaires.”
Michael Soon, Senior Sales Associate
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the client and the house we’re trying to sell, so I like to focus on the whole experience of the listing itself. I love taking advantage of the area, whether it’s the location or even the sunset for open houses, as it sets the scene. I also invite neighbors to come by, as they usually provide their feedback on living in the area, which, in turn, helps sell the home.”
One of the best ways to get nosy neighbors to your open house is by using door hangers. A targeted door hanger campaign a few days before your open house is the perfect way to pique the neighbor’s curiosity and get them through the door. They’re also a great (and often overlooked) way to stay top of mind in your farm area.
ProspectsPLUS! is a great place to get them. They offer tons of great templates that are super-easy to customize, and shipping is free.
23. Give Yourself 3 Days to Properly Market Your Open House
“Having three days to properly work an open house via cold-calling neighbors will generate leads, and getting face to face with neighbors will show them you’re a working real estate agent and in turn, will generate listing leads. The open house is not meant to sell the home; it is meant as a lead source method of what you can actually deliver to a seller.”
24. Schedule Your Open House Strategically
“Being unconventional, against the grain, and in my own lane has served my business well over the past 23 years. Off-hour open hours get me more bang for my buck … and time!
- Weekend Open Houses 9-11 a.m. or 3-5 p.m. While everyone else does 1-3 p.m., I do mine early or late.
- Weekdays—Thursdays 6-8 p.m. It works especially well during the summer hours and has also netted great foot traffic.
- Any day power hours/happy hours 5-6 p.m., 7-8 p.m.
- Choosing hours more conducive to the buyer’s lifestyle and schedule has worked. I especially LOVE after-hours “happy hour” sessions where folks can come through and kick back.”
25. Partner With a Local Brand or Shop to Get Influencers to Your Open House
There’s something about parties and real estate that just works. From housewarming parties to launch parties for luxury buildings, real estate agents have been leveraging the power of booze and gossip to sell real estate since the beginning.
When you think about it for a few seconds, it makes perfect sense. If you want to generate buzz about something you’re trying to sell, then wining and dining local influencers is the way to go. The only problem, of course, is that unless you have an historic or extravagant listing, getting those influencers through the door can be like pulling teeth.
Enter experiential marketing. Experiential marketing is just a fancy way of saying that building an experience for local influencers to write about is a great way to get them through the door. In order to get them to stay, you need a lure other than a backyard that’s perfect for entertaining. You need brands.
That’s why partnering with a local brand such as a boutique for a fashion show, a restaurant, a mixology bar, a music school, and so on can be a great way to build buzz around your open houses.
If you want to learn more about experiential marketing, check out our in-depth guide to experiential marketing with examples from Douglas Elliman and Macallan Scotch whiskey to Compass and Steinway Pianos to help get your imagination flowing.
26. Get a Junior Agent or TaskRabbit to Check in Guests While You Mingle
Although many agents feel like they need to do literally everything on their own, the best agents know when to get help. If you’re taking the time and effort to promote an open house and have a large amount of RSVPs, then running around like a rabbit checking people in, refilling drinks, and answering questions about the listing is going to drive you crazy—not a good look in front of your future clients!
To avoid coming across as a frazzled server at Denny’s, get a junior agent or even a TaskRabbit to help you keep things running smoothly. Checking in is one of those things where a junior agent or TaskRabbit can offer a great return on investment (ROI). That’s because if you’re checking people in, you’re stuck at the front door, which makes schmoozing with your guests nearly impossible. So dig a little deeper in your pocketbook and find $50 or so to have someone man the door for an hour or two. You won’t regret it.
27. Raise Money for Charity at Your Open House
Let’s face it: Having a social conscience is part and parcel of being a leader in your community. Even though you might not realize it, as a real estate agent, becoming a community leader is in your job description. If you want to succeed, you need to become a leader.
Being a community leader will not only help you close more deals, it will help you feel good about doing it. Giving something back to the community you work in is good for everybody.
So use your next open house as an opportunity to help raise money for a charity that you’re passionate about that will also help your community. Charities like the ASPCA, ACLU, or Criminal Justice Reform are all good picks. Charity Navigator is a great site to help you find worthwhile nonprofits that are actually making a difference for issues you care about.
28. Don’t Forget to Promote Your Open House to Fellow Agents
“It’s important for the listing broker to send a reminder to the local brokerage community a few days before the open house. There are various email marketing platforms today that make it very easy to send flyers directly to brokers.”
29. Invest in a Bootie Machine
When it comes to great customer service, it’s the little things that count. That’s why big chains like Trader Joe’s offer free coffee to all their shoppers. It only costs them a few bucks, but the payoff in customer loyalty is huge.
Since you worked hard to get your listing, going the extra mile with little touches like a bootie machine for your seller is part of your job as a listing agent. Even if they don’t care at all about keeping their floors sparkling, they will notice that you care enough about their happiness to protect them without asking. That’s a powerful testament to your strength as their fiduciary and advocate, and might just be that little push that gets you your next referral. Want an even better reason? You get to crack corny jokes about your “bootie machine” to other agents at your open house.
You can get a well-reviewed bootie machine for around $90 on Amazon.
3 Common Open House Mistakes to Avoid
You’ve checked all the boxes for a fantastic event. Don’t miss out on all the payoff of your hard work by making one of these common open house mistakes.
1. Allowing Your Seller to Attend
When a buyer is touring a home, they will ask tough questions that could make some sellers uncomfortable, which will in turn make it harder for those buyers to get serious about their interest.
Buyers want to know about home repair history, schools, and the neighborhood, but not through the rose-colored glasses of your seller.
Get all the information you need from them, send them to the movies, and then meet them for lunch afterward to tell them how it went.
2. Leaving Pets in the House
We get it—we love our furry family members as much as you do, but Rex and Fluffy won’t do your open house any favors.
Pet smell and hair can be problem for some buyers who have sensitive pet allergies. You want your perspective buyers leaving your open house with dreams of how this could be their dream home, not with itchy eyes and trouble breathing.
3. Missing Your Follow-up Window
You worked hard to promote your open house, you were a rock star during the event—don’t miss out on your chance to solidify a buyer’s interest after everyone has gone home.
Make sure you are following up personally with any buyers who seemed like your property is a legitimate possibility for them, and for all the rest, use their sign-in information to start them on an email drip you designed specifically for Open House attendees in your CRM. We suggest a specialized CRM like Pipedrive to make follow-up and lead nurturing a breeze. You can try Pipedrive free for 14 days.
Over to You
Have a great real estate open house idea that is working for you in 2021? Let us know in the comments. If it’s super-top secret, send me an email.