When I started working in real estate more than a decade ago, new agents in my office would fight for the chance to run open houses. Why? Open houses were one of the best, cheapest strategies for new agents to generate leads. Today? Most agents would rather try to go viral on TikTok than come up with fresh open house ideas to get enough buyers through the door to actually generate leads.
But if you use the right tools, focus on making people feel truly welcome, and learn some simple scripts and strategies, open houses can still be a fantastic way for new and even experienced agents to generate leads. I would even go as far as saying they’re a gold mine. You just need the right shovel to mine them.
That’s why I decided to update my list of the best open house ideas. I cover everything from using QR codes in new creative ways to sneaky strategies to get your business card into nosy neighbors’ pockets. After all, running a successful open house isn’t rocket science if you know what you’re doing.
1. Use QR Codes Creatively, Not Just for Signing In
Love them or hate them, QR codes have exploded in popularity and are probably here to stay. While tech-savvy Realtors have been using them for years, it took a pandemic to get the majority of people not only used to QR codes, but to actually prefer them over pen and paper. The problem? Too many agents don’t know how to use them to actually get leads at their open houses.
Here are three easy ways to use QR codes at your next open house to get more leads:
- Set up an iPad sign-in station using Curb Hero’s QR code creator at the front door, or better yet, on your food table.
- Create a free QR code using sites like QR Code Generator that links to a Google Forms sign-in sheet and print them onto your open house welcome sign.
- Create QR codes that link to slideshows of each room virtually staged in different themes. Print out the codes on signs posted in each room with copy such as “See this room staged as a home office!”
Want more apps to help you get leads from your next open house? Check out my guide to the best open house apps below.
9 Open House Apps Tech-savvy Agents Are Using to Get More Leads
2. Greet Your Guests With Custom Welcome Signs & Business Card Holders
When it comes to making your guest feel welcome at your open house, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Here’s why. Some of your guests might actually be intimidated just walking through the front door. Your listing might be way out of their budget, they might be unsure of their finances, or they might be brand-new buyers scared of the whole process.
Small touches like a friendly welcome sign and business card holder help make everyone feel welcome—and making people feel welcome is job one of an open house that actually generates leads. You can get custom welcome signs on Etsy or All Things Real Estate for around $20. Just remember to match the style of the sign to your listing. A bold sign like the one above from All Things Real Estate is perfect for a modern home, but a lighter design might work better for a vintage listing.
3. Use Open House Marketing to Build Your Personal Brand
One of the hardest lessons for new agents to learn is that their personal brands are built by everything they put out there. So if you want to build a brand that lasts, you need to take your marketing seriously, even for open houses. Using unedited cookie-cutter templates from Canva to design your open house marketing materials won’t help you grow your brand, and DIY marketing materials will make you look less professional, which means fewer leads.
That’s where LabCoat Agents Marketing Center comes in. LCA is the first design app created specifically for real estate agents. They have hundreds of gorgeous, easy-to-edit templates for open house flyers, signs, social media posts, door hangers, and everything else you need to promote your open house like a marketing pro and help build your personal brand.
Lab Coat Agents Marketing Center Review: Pricing, Features & More
4. Offer Neighbors Goodie Bags With Your Business Card
One of the many perks of running a successful open house is getting a chance to meet the neighbors. While most will have zero interest in buying the home, the curiosity factor may make hosting a private open house just for neighbors worth the hassle.
The problem is that they might be less likely to want your business card, look at your listing sheets, or even sign in. One easy way to get your card into their hands is to offer free goodie bags with your card stapled to them. Fill them with candy, a single cupcake or cinnamon roll, popcorn, or other tasty treats popular in the neighborhood.
You can get these adorable “thanks for popping by!” goodie bags, complete with satin ribbons and a business card holder, on Etsy.
Business cards not quite ready for prime time? Check out my list of the best (and worst) business cards below for some inspiration.
The Best & Worst Real Estate Business Cards
5. Serve Trendy Food & Drinks That Spark Conversation
While it’s hard to beat the emotional response your visitors get when they’re greeted by the smell of freshly baked cookies when they walk through the front door, they don’t really do much to get people talking. Instead, try serving food and drinks that have a better chance of actually sparking conversation. When the conversation flows easily, so do the leads.
For example, serving something like kiwi mojito mocktails or treats that people line up for on Sunday mornings at the local bakery will give your guests an easy excuse to chat. Just keep in mind the idea here is not to wow your guests with your cooking or mixology skills, but to give them (and you!) an easy way to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.
If you need some inspiration for creative snacks and drinks to serve at your next open house, check out my guide here.
6. Host a Private Open House for Neighbors & Former Clients
One thing most newer agents get wrong about their open house strategy is focusing too much attention on people they think might be closer to a transaction and not enough attention on so-called “cold” leads. But if you want to become the go-to agent in your farm area, you need to shift your strategy and think about longer-term lead generation opportunities with local homeowners. The neighbors and your former clients are the perfect way to do it.
Of course, you need to approach the planning and setup of your neighbors-only open house a little bit differently. Here are my five best tips for success:
- Since you will have fewer guests, spend a bit more on food and refreshments
- Try inviting them with Slydial voicemails
- Make sure to mention this is a private open house in your marketing materials
- Knock doors and leave door hangers to invite them
- Call any former clients who live nearby and offer them an invite
Need more tips about effective real estate farming? Check out Chris Linsell’s strategy guide below.
Real Estate Farming: How to Become the Go-to Agent in Your Neighborhood in 2023
7. Livestream a Tour of Your Open House, Then Cut Into Short Videos for Instagram & TikTok
When I was an agent in New York City, I often dealt with clients who were relocating from tech hubs like Los Angeles or San Francisco. While they had cushy relocation packages, they were almost always either in a time crunch to find a new home, or worse, still on the West Coast! Livestream tours were a great solution to this, but they have a larger benefit too. They’re perfect for getting a wider audience to see your listing as it was meant to be seen: buzzing with buyers, nosy neighbors, and agents.
Here’s how to launch a successful livestream of your next open house:
- First, make sure you promote your in-person open house as much as possible. A video of a home buzzing with guests is much more alluring than one with a few bored-looking people milling around.
- Next, create a Facebook post to advertise a virtual open house and boost it.
- Then send out an email or text blast announcing your virtual open house. Don’t forget to reach out to other agents in your office or farm area. They might be too busy to attend in person, but it just might be the perfect home for one of their buyers.
Finally, use short snippets of the video to market yourself on social. You’ll want to record your livestream and cut it into quick-hit videos for Instagram Reels or Stories, or TikTok. You can either use them as “day in the life” videos, or better yet, show off how your property marketing can actually fill a room with people!
10 Agents & Coaches Crushing It on Instagram Reels
8. Practice My 9 Open House Scripts & Ice Breakers That Get Phone Numbers
Even if you think you’re a social butterfly who nails every real estate conversation you have, the cold, hard truth is that scripts can help guide even casual conversations at your open house toward getting phone numbers. So unless you’re throwing open houses to meet new friends and chat about lawn care, practicing scripts will help you get more leads. Period.
If you want some persuasive scripts to get you started, check out my best open house scripts here. Oh, and don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you rehearsed them!
9. Virtually Stage a Room & Offer to Text It to Open House Guests
Here’s a great real estate open house idea I learned from a Manhattan listing agent. Since most people will have a very hard time visualizing 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. Or, you can follow my advice above and place signs in each room with QR codes linking to the room virtually staged in different themes.
If you don’t have a virtual staging service you like, check out my buyer’s guide below. On a budget? Check out Apply Design. Their virtual staging starts at just $7 per picture.
The Best Virtual Staging Software & Tips (DIY & Pro)
10. Focus on 3 Features That Make Your Listing Stand Out From Comps
While using my open house scripts is a great way to refocus your conversations onto getting phone numbers, none of them help you achieve your actual goal: selling the damn house! Sure, all of the information is in the listing sheet, but in order to get people excited about the home, you need to subtly remind them of standout features that set it apart from comparable properties.
Richard Shulman, a consistently top-ranking Keller Williams agent in Los Angeles, recommends you find three unique features of the home to weave into your conversations. Just remember to be honest. If there is only one standout feature of the home, don’t try and come up with two more just to have something to talk about. The goal here is to get people to actually remember what is unique about the listing. If it’s not truly unique, they are less likely to remember it. They might even think less of you as a salesperson for trying to sell them on features every other listing in the neighborhood has.
11. Go Knock on Doors to Invite the Neighbors
Even though most agents would rather get a root canal, the cold hard truth is that door knocking remains a tried-and-true strategy to become the go-to agent in your farm area. Even better: Since so many agents are focused on TikTok and Facebook advertising, chances are you’ll be one of the only one doing it.
So why is door knocking such an effective strategy to generate leads at your open house? Simple. It takes courage, what we New Yorkers call chutzpah. Want to know who respects and maybe even expects courage in their salespeople? Baby boomers. If that doesn’t get you to strap on your walking shoes, it should. One study from the Mortgage Bankers Association found that more than 4 million homes owned by baby boomers will hit the market every year until 2032.
Ready to learn more? Check out Chris’ video above on how to get leads from door knocking, then go read my article with tips and scripts you can start using this weekend below.
Door Knocking for Real Estate: Does It Still Work? (+ Tips & Scripts)
12. Stay Relaxed, Organized & Focused With My Open House Checklist
Believe it or not, using a simple checklist for the tasks you need to accomplish before, during, and after your open house can be the difference between a customer relationship manager (CRM) filled with new leads and a wasted Sunday. Checklists create discipline, and discipline leads to success—even for relatively uncomplicated tasks. There is a very good reason why Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto” has examples of simple checklists saving lives in surgery and reducing airplane accidents: They work.
So how does staying organized and focused help you generate leads? Simple. If you’re running around trying to fix little mistakes, you won’t be relaxed enough to have the conversations that help get your guests to know, like, and trust you enough to actually give you their (real) phone numbers. You can read more and download our checklist template here.
13. Offer Custom Water Bottles Branded With Your Business Card
Looking for a creative way to give your open house guests your business card? Check out these cute water bottle hang tags from Etsy that, to be honest, we’re a little bit obsessed with. They are way cheaper than most custom-branded water bottles and the ability to add your business card makes them more useful as well. They’re even available in 11 different eye-catching colors that you can match to your personal brand or the season. Perfect to offer your guests as a to-go gift on a hot day!
14. Get Creative With Your Circle Prospecting
While most agents know that circle prospecting around your just-listeds or just-solds is a great way to drum up leads, too many skip it when it comes to open houses. Here are my top four ways to circle prospect around your open house and what they work best for:
|Circle Prospecting Strategy||Pricing||Best For|
|Slydial Voicemails||$2.99 per month + 10 cents per message||Exclusive properties that are rarely on the market|
|Door Hangers||15 cents-50 cents each||Circle prospecting on a budget|
|Open House Flyers||10 cents-80 cents each||Covering a large neighborhood quickly|
|Door Knocking||Free||Making personal connections|
13 Open House Flyer Templates That Get Leads (Free & Paid Examples)
15. Boost Your Open House (for Free!) on Hyperlocal Social Networks
Advertising your open house 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. By posting on local Facebook Groups and Nextdoor, you will reach fewer people, but people who almost certainly live in the neighborhood.
Even better, most people use Nextdoor and Facebook Groups to discuss local issues, not argue about national politics or look at cute cat videos. They have some of the most engaged local audiences online today. That means if you offer trendy food, music, or use the other tips above, you might get neighbors talking about your open house for free.
16. Use My Open House Follow-up Email Templates to Engage Your New Leads
While getting emails and phone numbers at your open house is great, you might as well not bother if you can’t keep them engaged until they’re ready to transact. While some CRMs offer done-for-you drip campaigns to add them to, that first email you send is crucial. If they don’t open it, your odds of ever talking to them again go down dramatically. This is why it’s so crucial to write great subject lines for your follow-up emails. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Here are five clever subject lines you can use to increase the odds of getting your email read:
- Your Private Invite: Get the Best Listings BEFORE They Hit the Market!
- Coffee This Week? (on me)
- I Have to Ask…
- Did You Hate It…?
- If You Liked [your open house address], You’ll LOVE These!
Want more follow-up email templates? Check out my best open house follow-up emails in the strategy guide below.
The 9 Best Open House Follow-up Email Templates (+ Writing Tips)
17. Remember That the Money Is in the Follow-up
Like all lead generation strategies, the follow-up is crucial. 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 2023 we have predictive analytics apps like SmartZip that use artificial intelligence (AI) and a billion (yes, really) data points to tell you who is likely to move way, way before they even think about an agent. In fact, SmartZip says its AI is so accurate that it predicted 72% of all listings in the U.S. last year.
18. Hold Other Agents’ Open Houses & Make It a Win-Win!
Do you specialize in a neighborhood but don’t currently have any listings? Stop worrying and start asking! Other listing agents in your neighborhood may be happy to allow you to hold their open. As a listing agent, I have even allowed agents from other brokerages 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 this open house idea 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 the neighborhood.
19. Partner With a Local Brand or Shop to Create a Memorable Experience for Guests
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 company, such as a boutique for a fashion show, a restaurant or a mixology bar for bespoke refreshments, a music school for a concert, or an art gallery for an exhibit can be a great way to build buzz around your open houses. It will make the event more fun for your guests and give them something to talk about. Even better, the brands you work with will probably promote your event on their social media channels for free. That might open up a whole new audience for your business.
Learn more about leveraging brands or local shops at your next open house, including case studies from our friends at Douglas Elliman, here:
Can Experiential Marketing Save The Real Estate Industry…Again?
20. Give Out Small Branded Gifts as Party Favors
While I generally recommend against giving branded items as closing gifts, they are perfect for open houses. Your open house guests probably don’t know you from Adam, so a small gift they might actually like or use with your brand on it helps keep you top of mind.
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.
21. Hire a Photographer to Take Pictures of Buyer’s Agents & Guests
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? Images of people enjoying themselves at your open house will also work great in your next listing presentation.
22. Place Some Marketing Materials on Your Refreshments Table
If you’re one of those agents who prefers a subtler approach to personal branding, try putting some of your marketing materials on the same table as your snacks and drinks. While you may not have space for listing sheets or brochures, you can easily add a small business card holder. You never know, it might just get the guests who make a beeline for the snacks to consider pocketing your business card.
7 Real Estate Marketing Materials That Will Help You Build a Better Personal Brand
23. 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 pros know when to get help. If you’re taking the time and effort to promote an open house and have a large number of RSVPs, then running around like a rabbit checking people in, refilling drinks, and answering questions about the listing is going to be stressful—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 freelancer from TaskRabbit to help you keep things running smoothly. Checking in is one of those tasks where they can offer a great return on investment. 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.
24. Work With Agents Who Have Nearby Listings & Plan an Open House Day Together
One of the most surprising real estate lessons many agents learn too late is that you should see your fellow agents as collaborators rather than 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.
The first big advantage here is that you can pool resources to advertise on Facebook, potentially driving more visitors. Bonus points if you can find listings that are very similar to yours. That way, you’re all targeting similar buyer profiles.
When advertising group open house days, a little creativity can go a long way. You can hold a raffle that people can only enter if they visit every home on the list or even try a scavenger hunt for the kids.
25. Welcome Your Guests With a Custom Branded Doormat
A cute custom doormat is another great way to make guests feel welcome at your next open house. While some branding experts might scoff at the idea of allowing people to literally walk on your personal brand, the benefits outweigh the risks here.
While psychology is important when creating marketing materials, too many agents overthink it and end up missing out on fun ideas like this that can actually make people feel more welcome. Remember that some buyers might be a little nervous about attending your open house. Wiping their shoes on your logo might help them feel more comfortable. 🤣
26. 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. It also helps generate leads. Think about it. If you wanted to sell your home, would you rather hire a local leader who raises money for the community or an agent who just sells houses?
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, and 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 on issues you care about.
27. 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.
Over to You
Have some great open house ideas that are working for you? Let us know in the comments. If it’s super top-secret, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.