To get you thinking outside the box about lead generation, we curated the best real estate open house ideas from 27 top-producing listing agents from brokerages that include Douglas Elliman, Compass, and more.
When it comes to open houses, many agents have already given up. Convinced by some cynical colleague that open houses “don’t work anymore,” they’ll instead spend thousands on online ads. Apply these savvy open house ideas instead, and watch your customer relationship manager (CRM) overflow with leads that are ideal for your nurturing campaign.
1. Use Courtesy Marketing as an Excuse to Meet the Neighbors
Bret Parsons, Compass, Los Angeles, California
With annual production in the top one percent of all agents nationwide, Bret Parsons knows a thing or two about working open houses. His best tip relies on what he calls “courtesy marketing” as an excuse to meet the neighbors. Here’s Bret to explain:
“Before an open house, visit 10 surrounding properties to let homeowners know there will be increased traffic and activity in the neighborhood for three hours. DON’T invite them to the open house, as that’s perceived as selling. They will invite themselves if interested. Residents love the update, and it’s what I call ‘courtesy marketing,’ which has resulted in subsequent listings.”
2. Use Your Open House Marketing to Help 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.
That’s where LabCoat Agents (LCA) 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 pro. Think of it like Canva on steroids.
3. Run a Facebook Livestream at Your Open House
Gary Vaynerchuk | Entrepreneur | Speaker (Crushing It)
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.”
4. Virtually Stage the Home & Offer to Email the New Decor to Open House Visitors
Here’s a great real estate open house idea I learned from a Manhattan listing agent in SoHo. 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.
The Best Virtual Staging Software & Tips for 2022
5. Use QR Codes Strategically
Kimberly Jay, Compass, New York City, New York
“When marketing your open house via Facebook and Instagram ads, emails, or regular mailings, add a QR code that links to your website, a video of the home, or even a video of the actual open house. If you take a video of the open house that shows numerous people walking through it, upload the video to your listing page and use a QR code in marketing that directs the consumer to the video.
“During the open house, use a QR code instead of a sign-in sheet. The attendees’ information will go directly to your CRM, automatically tagging the contact with the address of the open house. Not only will this enable you to easily follow up for feedback from the attendees, but if the property is not for them, they are now a lead.”
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
Like all lead generation strategies, 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 2022, 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 US last year.
7. Focus on 3 Features That Make Your Listing Stand Out From Comps
Richard Schulman – Ranked #1 KW Agent in Los Angeles | Keller Williams, Los Angeles, California
“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
Tom Ferry | #1 Ranked Real Estate Coach
While Bret Parson’s courtesy marketing is a great open house idea, sometimes a more direct approach can work just as well. The trick is to offer visitors an exclusive experience. One open house idea is to offer food and wine. A neighbors-only preview is another great way to do so.
Check out Tom Ferry’s simple script in this video. His proposed script starts at 3:39, but the entire video offers some great advice.
9. Hold Other Agents’ Open Houses & Make It a Win-Win!
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 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 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. Offer to Take Visitors on a Tour of the Local Community
Sometimes all it takes to wow your open house guest is an offer to go above and beyond. Even if few take you up on it, they will be impressed with how seriously you take customer service. Orange County Realtor Cheryl Lynch offers to take open house guests on a private tour, right then and there!
“Offer to tour visitors to the local lifestyle places in the community (clubhouse, golf course, downtown, beaches, etc.) to not only showcase the home but the community. Better yet, rent a golf cart and tour that way! Offer right then and there if the buyers are not familiar with the area. It is a great way to really get to know the buyers and their interests. Shows your value and helps to win clients!”
12. 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.
13. Don’t Miss 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.
Experienced agents follow up with open house guests the day after the event. They call or text anyone they had rapport with, and put the rest on an open house email drip in their customer relationship manager (CRM). A specialized CRM like LionDesk can make follow-up and lead nurturing after your open house much easier.
14. 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? Pictures of people enjoying themselves at your open house will also work great in your next listing presentation.
15. Place Signs to Call Out Unique Features in Different Rooms
“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.”
16. Use Door Hangers to Invite the Neighbors
“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.
17. Give Out Small Branded Gifts as Party Favors
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.
18. 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 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.
19. Partner With a Local Brand or Shop to Get Influencers to Your Open House
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.
Can Experiential Marketing Save The Real Estate Industry…Again?
20. 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 number 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 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.
21. Hold Raffles or Contests
Kenneth Er, Compass, San Francisco, California
“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, Alexa, 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!”
22. Create a Unique Experience for Luxury Open Houses
Carol Cassis, The Cassis-Burke Collection, Miami, Florida
“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.”
23. Give Yourself 3 Days to Properly Market Your Open House
Ricardo A. Olea, Olea Realty Group, Chula Vista, California
“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
Asiyah Ali | 1st Class Real Estate, Virginia Beach, Virginia
“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. 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, 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 for issues you care about.
26. Don’t Forget to Promote Your Open House to Fellow Agents
Jared Barnett, Compass, New York City, New York
“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.”
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.
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 a problem for some buyers who have sensitive pet allergies. You want your prospective buyers leaving your open house with dreams of how this could be their dream home, not with itchy eyes and trouble breathing.
3. Not Using Follow-up Scripts
After the initial rush of excitement from an open house, new agents often stare down at a list of names and email addresses with a furrowed brow. What’s the best way to reach out to open house leads in 2022?
If you ever find yourself asking this question or just want to sharpen your lead generation skills, we put together this list of the best open house follow-up email templates.
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.