Your First Open House


posted by on Especially for Rookies

Be on time for your open house. If the home you’re holding open is another agent’s listing, remember that you are representing the listing agent who is counting on you to make a good impression on his seller. If the seller has to call the listing agent to find out where the heck you are, that’s not a good beginning to the afternoon. Allow plenty of time to put up your directional arrows and make sure you place them in highly visible open houselocations. When you arrive at the home, be prepared for people to come through the door as soon as your Open House sign is up. It always happens that way for some reason – you’ll get a flood of visitors right at the beginning when you’re setting up and at the end when you’re closing down. Anyway, before putting up your sign, go through the home, turn on lights, open curtains, check to make sure everything is clean and tidy. Display your brochures and business cards, set yourself up somewhere comfortable, but not in the “best” room of the home. If the home has a spectacular living room, don’t park yourself in there. You want visitors to explore the home thoroughly and to take note of special features or rooms. If you’re in a “special” room, your presence there will distract visitors from it.

Remember that you are in that home to sell that home. That is your first obligation. Don’t make the rookie mistake of trying to talk to visitors about other homes while they’re still taking in the details of this one. Imagine that the seller is watching you with a hidden video camera (who knows…?) . Don’t do anything the seller wouldn’t approve of. And don’t leave early unless the home is vacant. Sellers know exactly what time you leave – either they’re parked across the street watching or they have neighbors spying on you. I’m serious. (

Everyone develops their own style for holding open houses. You can be assertive… or not so. You can show visitors around… or let them wander. You can require sign-in…or not. You can ask a lot of questions… or just wait for the visitors to approach you.

Me? Well, I’m a little shy, so I take the soft-sell approach. I do not require sign-in, I do not show visitors around, I ask questions, but only of people who seem open to my advances. If I connect with someone, I am happy to chat with them about the home, or the state of the market. If I do not feel a good connection with a visitor, I just smile and let him approach me if he needs anything.


Because I’m shy, open houses were a little nerve-wracking for me from Day One to Day 4,000 …making small talk with strangers for three hours just isn’t high on my list of comfortable activities. I found the best way to ease my tension was to have music playing (so that it’s not deadly silent when there’s only me and one visitor in the house) and to have my laptop computer set up and open on the kitchen table. I could look up from my laptop to greet a new visitor, which gave me something to be doing besides standing there looking terrified.


If your open house is lively, you will have an opportunity to talk about the homes you previewed ahead of time (you DO preview, don’t you?). When an open house has good energy, people are talking to you and to each other, usually about real estate. It’s easy for you to chime in with your two cents or to casually mention the fabulous house around the corner (if appropriate).

When it’s time to go, make sure you:
Turn off lights & close curtains (as you found them)
Clean up any trash left by visitors
Close closet doors, shower doors, check toilets, etc.
Make sure all exterior doors are secure
Take your home brochures with you
Leave a nice note for the seller with some commentary on the open house, including the approximate number of visitors, any feedback, etc.
Take down the Open Sunday rider on the For Sale sign

Call the listing agent on your way home to tell him how the open house went and to thank him profusely for allowing you to hold his listing open. If you do a good job for this guy, he can be a gold mine for you. If he’s busy, he might just be looking for someone to help him with more open houses, sign calls or other lower priority referrals. If you sense he might be interested, offer to take sign calls for him and to pay him a referral fee for any closings that result from these calls. Many busy agents are happy to refer these types of leads.

That Evening or The Next Day…at the latest
Follow up with any buyers you met at the open house. If someone asked you a question you promised to research, do the research right away and call him with the answer. If a potential buyer asked you to e-mail her listings, do it tonight. It’s a good idea to call her when you send them which may solidify the relationship a bit. I actually met my first real estate agent at an open house. She called me that night to follow up and I happily hired her to find me a home. She sold me four houses over the next few years before I got my own license. Remember, if you act as if you want a buyer’s business, you will get the buyer’s business. Most agents don’t follow up promptly (or at all), so if you do, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition, even if you’re new.

A complete Open House checklist can be found on my website, at the VIP Lounge!