How to Work An Open House

Real Estate Agent

This is an encore and revised post that I wrote a few years ago. Since it is a new year it is a good time to prepare for successful open houses. In Manhattan open houses work. I realize in some markets they don't work. This post is about working an open house not whether they work or not.

How to Work

an Open House


Treat it like a business meeting.  Dress like you’re making a presentation…because you are.  It’s irrelevant what the list price is on the property; all sellers—of mansions or of studios—deserve to have a professional represent their home.

Mitchell Hall, Associate Broker, The Corcoran Group

You look great…but how does the property look?  Did you check it out prior to 15 minutes before the Open House?  Have you had a heart-to-heart with the seller about children’s toys, etc?  Does the place need staging? Have these conversations early in your relationship with your seller — they’re hiring you to get the highest price possible for their home and that may very well mean conversation about clutter. Display fresh flowers and perhaps aroma therapy if needed. An ipad is a great tool to use at open houses too.

Do you have all the information you need?  Do you have the answers to all the anticipated questions...and then some?  Of course you know about the property and the usuals but how about comps, the closest bus stop, the nearest dry cleaners and other relevant info that sets you apart?  You may be used to seeing a Purchase/Mortgage Cost Analysis but it may be new and valuable information to the buyers visiting your open house.  It will also position you as a resource who can assist them in all of the aspects of purchasing a property—which is good “branding” of you, the agent, against the competition. 

mortgage info

Then, can you take the information just one step farther?  What else can you provide that will educate your visitors: maps of the neighborhood, articles about the area or the building’s historic significance, a list of the closest restaurants, buy vs rent analysis, a hand-out of websites that provide information useful to a buyer?

Potential purchasers will remember you as the broker with all of the answers.  However, potential sellers will be impressed as well—and one never knows when a visitor is NOT a purchaser but a potential seller who is “auditioning” brokers for the sale of their home!


Open House Fact Sheet


Use marketing materials, but make sure they’re perfect. 

Was the copy proofed?  Is the floorplan photocopied upside down on the back of your handout? 

Remember, this is the information a potential buyer takes away from the open house for reference, so it is a continual reminder of the property and must be perfect.

Try to sign the person in personally.  In extremely busy circumstances, this is not always possible but when time allows, it’s a great way to begin a conversation as well as to get complete and (more) accurate information

Ask why they chose to visit your open house specifically.  The visitor had a choice of dozens of open houses to visit on that particular day and they chose yours. If you get the answer to this question, you usually get about 80% of what they’re looking for in their new home. You can then tailor your presentation of your exclusive to their response.  

In most cases, talk less and listen more.  Most people can determine it’s the kitchen without having that pointed out to them, yet you hear that type of thing over and over again. 

 If you hear “view,” you might stand by the window, subtly directing their attention to the lovely panorama outside.  You don’t necessarily have to actually point at things to get people to notice them—and if you’re not talking but are listening, you’ll hear what they want to see.  

If you have to say something, try putting even that in the form of a question:  “I see you’re heading directly to the kitchen—do you like to cook?”  It’s more personable to get them to say something about themselves rather than about “their search.”  After all, they’re buying a place to live, not just four walls, and how they see themselves using a space will determine whether or not this is the home for them.

Follow up. Contact them.  If they provided you with an email address, you can follow up unobtrusively. It doesn’t have to be a “so what did you think?” follow up.  If it’s your exclusive (dependent upon what you found out in your conversation with them), send them some information on the neighborhood, some information on the history of the building or other non-threatening, non-hard sell material, along with an offer to answer any questions they might have about the apartment, the market, etc. 

If you’ve determined that they’re not interested in the home you’re representing, (based on comments they’ve made or other qualifying factors, since obviously your first duty is to the property you are representing), send them other listings with a cover note.  “At the open house today you said you realized you really need that third bedroom so my two bedroom isn’t going to work for you.  However, here are some other homes in the neighborhood that have that same great view, and three bedrooms.  I’d be happy to arrange for you to see any of these that catch your eye.  Are you available in the evening or do weekends work best for you?”  End the inquiry with a question that CANNOT be answered yes or no.

Timing is Everything. Try different times, have shorter open houses, try evening open houses. Two hour maximum.

Remember to report.  Naturally, your sellers want information on attendance and feedback on their home, but can you take it one step further?  Perhaps you can share anecdotal information with them and then show how you’ve incorporated that information into points made on future marketing materials. 

"You and your listing have to stand out from the crowd" Barbara Corcoran (Founder of The Corcoran Group)


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©Mitchell Hall 2022

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          Call Mitchell Hall @ 917-312-0924

Comments (84)

Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner
Travis Realty - Enterprise, AL
email: / cell: 334-494-7846

As usual, EXCELLENT info from The Corcoran Group! I've learned a lot from your company's training - THANK YOU!

I already use some similar forms as in your post, but will work with the Rent-vs. Buy form and modify it for my use (already have something like that on file, so will combine them and USE it).

Jan 05, 2013 01:16 AM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

Great Post and Reminder that that open houses are at least a great way to meet people.  Thanks for the update - I think we are all pretty rusty at doing open houses - I know I am.

Jan 05, 2013 01:34 AM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager
I have a mastermind group with 4 of my colleagues and one of our goals is to get better at working open houses in light of the market slowdown we experienced this past fall. I am going to share your post with them, Mitchell. Great tips and advice - thanks so much.
Jan 05, 2013 01:35 AM
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

You make some pretty good points & I thank you for the reminders.  We do not do many open houses areound Seattle.  They work best on homes that are located close to a major road, otherwise, hardly anyone shows up.

Jan 05, 2013 05:07 AM
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

Great checklist.  It's more than putting and ad in the paper!  Kristine

Jan 05, 2013 07:14 AM
Rafi Footerman
Mid Jersey Inspections - Edison, NJ
Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More!

How about having a second person with you so someone can welcome new visitors while you're showing the home?

Jan 05, 2013 10:41 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

All good stuff, so thanks for the tips.

Jan 05, 2013 04:18 PM
Eva Aliaga
Partnership Realty Inc - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton & Delray Beach: SE Florida Real Estate

Hi Mitchell, Wishing you a Happy New Years!!! Great points on hosting an open house, need to plan on having more this year.

Jan 05, 2013 05:51 PM
Rob Renk
Center Street Lending - McKinney, TX
AE | Fast Fix/Flip Loans for Residential Investors

Great post on how to use an Open House effectively.  It looks like you use this marketing method very well.  I have heard agents in my area say they don't work.  I am glad you have used it so well.

Jan 05, 2013 09:10 PM
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Mitchell excellent information to be the best, great post to start off 2013. Bookmarked.

Jan 06, 2013 02:57 AM
Brenda Van Fossen
Dawson Ford Garbee & Co., Realtors, Lynchburg VA - Lynchburg, VA


Great information!  I too have found that prospective sellers attend open houses to check out a potential listing agent for their home.

Jan 06, 2013 01:00 PM
Kim & Kristine Halverson
Compass - Santa Monica, CA
Sisters, Realtors

Mitchell, you are a season professional. I hear open houses are a good way to meet clients. In my entire career, I may have met 1 or 2. Kristine, on the other hand is great at connecting with people at her open houses.



Jan 10, 2013 10:05 AM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Thanks for all the great comments.

Rafi, Excellent point. It helps to have two agents when the property is large and you expect a large turn out. One can greet the people and make sure they sign in while the other listing agent answers questions and can show people around.

Remember to tell sellers to put away valuables. Unfortunately there are some bad people out there who can put things in their coat pockets. I heard of someone putting a mink coat under their coat. Keep an eye out. Follow them around. I give them space but try to watch them too. When they go in a bedroom I stand outside the bedroom watching them. Two agents is always better than one when ever possible.

Kim, Barbara Corcoran always said her partner was great at all the things she was terrible at and vise versa. That's what makes great partners.

Jan 11, 2013 12:21 AM
Brian Park
Park Realty Investments - Murray, UT

I like open houses, still effective in many areas. I have a tip for some of you, many years ago I had just held a brokers open on Thursday and still had some materials there that I was going to pick up at my Sunday open. One of the things I did was have agents put in a BPO and the one closest to the actual sales price would get a $!00 prize.

Well I had gathered everything up to take out to the car when a couple showed up and I put the stuff down, later we returned to the spot and the wife saw the $100 prize and asked if they could the fill one out. I said sure, and later offered all the other visitors the chance. I got complete info from all of them. It gave me a follow up, plus a little idea on what they though the market was doing. So I made it a part of my open house material.

Jan 12, 2013 07:31 AM
Steve Higgins
RE/MAX Kelowna - Kelowna, BC

Hi Mitchell,

I am about to start back into holding open houses so this post comes at a perfect time. Thanks for the good information.

Jan 12, 2013 08:52 AM
Amanda Keaton
Manhattan, NY

Hi Mitchell,

Happy New Year, and thank you for this great post! I found your advice so inspiring that I created a graphic about it on my blog. Of course, I credited and linked back to you as the source, and you’re more than welcome to use the image if you would like.

An addition I made is to always remember to greet visitors with a warm, friendly smile when they walk in, which might be easy to forget when things get hectic. :-)

Thank you again, Amanda

Jan 14, 2013 05:06 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Instead of having a sign in sheet I had each visitor a card.  It seems less intrusive.  I make it very simple and find out what I need to know.

Jan 17, 2013 12:44 AM
Pat & Steve Pribisko
Keller Williams Greater Cleveland West - Westlake, OH

Mitchell, spot on.  We've sold homes from an open house.  We have, also, met sellers who were shopping for a seller's agent.

Apr 05, 2013 11:27 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
Found this via Chris Ann. Lots of good tips to stash away for an Open House.
May 08, 2013 12:41 PM
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

I would love to have a successful open house but I just think people look on line and don't go to opens anymore

May 08, 2013 01:32 PM