11 Open House Ideas for the Modern Real Estate Agent

July 6th, 2020
11 Open House Ideas for the Modern Real Estate Agent

Although open houses are a long-standing staple of the real estate business, they’re also time-consuming and stressful for the agents who host them. If you’re putting in all this effort, make sure you’re getting rewarded with valuable prospects and potential client contact information along with finding a renter for the home. And even though many states have put a hold on in-person open houses for safety reasons during the pandemic, you can still take inspiration from these ideas and plan ahead to make your events even better once you are able to host them again.

Take a look at our 11 open house ideas below for tips on how to pull off an enjoyable and successful open house experience.

11 Real Estate Open House Ideas That Will Make an Impression

One of the keys to a successful open house is to emphasize the property’s local advantages. Here are our top tips for hosting a fun, local-focused real estate open house.

Table of Contents:

  1. Live Stream on Social
  2. Hand out Goody Bags
  3. Host a Raffle
  4. Use Digital Sign-In Sheets
  5. Provide Local Food and Drink
  6. Decorate for the Holiday or Season
  7. Invite the Neighbors
  8. Create Branded Informational Packets
  9. Offer Promotional Trinkets To Go
  10. Put Together a Neighborhood Highlights Board
  11. Host a Local Art Show

1. Live Stream on Social

photo of a real estate agent doing an open house via live stream

Though social distancing makes this a necessity in some places, there are other advantages to streaming your open houses as well. You’re able to attract a wider audience of people who either couldn’t make the open house date or who didn’t know about it until it was too late to attend. Younger renters are also often more comfortable with remote communication, so if that is your target demographic you’ll definitely want to make use of either Facebook or Instagram Live.

Showing Suggestion: It can be stressful to both mingle with guests and manage a live stream, so have an intern or even a friend manage the video while you concentrate on the event.

2. Hand Out Goody Bags

photo of cookies wrapped in a goody bag

Partner with locally-owned shops and small businesses to highlight the unique opportunities of the neighborhood. Ask them for any small samples or product-based promotional materials that you can use to advertise their business.

Putting together cute gift bags for each guest stocked with samples from around the area is an excellent way to educate people about the opportunities available to them. Plus, attendees will definitely remember the realtor who took the time to create such a charming gift.

Showing Suggestion: If you specialize in a specific area, try to cultivate relationships with the local shop owners vs just a one-off request. Together you can work to promote each other’s businesses in the neighborhood.

3. Host a Raffle

photo of bowl with raffle tickets

Our instinctual love for free stuff can’t be overstated! One way to draw visitors to your open house is to advertise a raffle item. Unlike a traditional raffle, guests won’t have to pay to purchase raffle tickets, but instead can be entered automatically when they arrive. 

Though tech gifts are always a big hit, such as an iPad Mini or Apple Watch, these types of raffles can be expensive when they add up. Instead, you can try to partner with local restaurants or theaters to see if they’d like to sponsor the event with a date night gift card or free pair of tickets.

Showing Suggestion: To make sure you’re collecting useful prospecting information, print out mock raffle tickets, and have visitors fill out their names, emails, and phone numbers in order to be entered. You can pull a lucky winner out of a branded fishbowl.

4. Use Digital Sign In Sheets

couple signing in on an ipad

Take the traditional sign-in sheet up a notch and have guests sign in on a digital tablet instead of a paper sheet. This adds a touch of class and sophistication to the event, plus you don’t have to manually decipher a bunch of messy handwriting the next day.

Showing Suggestion: Check out our digital open house sign-in sheet templates and customize for your own use!

5. Provide Local Food and Drink

plate of artisan snacks from local seller

Again, highlighting local offerings is a must for your open house food ideas. You should stop by nearby delis, small grocery stores, or restaurants to pick up appetizers for the event. You can even include small signs and business cards in front of each dish explaining what is special about it. 

For example, maybe one restaurant uses purely vegan ingredients or a local deli is famous for its artisan cheeses. Food and drink are especially important to provide for weekday showings, as many guests will be coming straight from work and will likely be hungry.

Showing Suggestion: Opinion is mixed on the benefits of serving alcohol at open houses. On the one hand, providing a glass of wine at an evening showing is a nice touch to help guests feel more comfortable, but on the other hand, some might just be showing up for the free booze. Depending on your state there can be legal considerations as well, so be sure to discuss with your client and use your best judgment.

6. Decorate for the Holiday or Season

pumpkins and fall decorations on a porch

Getting festive for an upcoming holiday or even just seasonal decorations is a thoughtful touch that visitors will likely remember. Holiday lights in the winter, beach themed decor in the summer, or a couple of pumpkins and colorful leaves in the fall can also help visitors to your open house imagine what it will be like to live there during these times.

Showing Suggestion: Don’t forget about holidays with your open house food ideas as well. Instead of the usual wine or bottled water, consider providing apple cider in the fall or hot chocolate in the winter. If you’re up for it, you could even try a slushy machine on a hot summer day.

7. Invite the Neighbors

person handwriting a letter

It might seem odd to invite people who almost definitely won’t be interested in the property, but having neighbors attend your open house serves two important purposes. Number one, it can help to fill up your guest list, as too small of a gathering can make attendees feel awkward. Number two, and more importantly, neighbors are effective advocates for the neighborhood. 

No matter how knowledgeable you are about the area, if you don’t live there you won’t be able to offer the unique perspective that chatty neighbors will be able to impart to your potential buyers. Deliver messages to the doors of nearby homes and apartments letting them know the details of the open house and inviting them to stop by for free food.

Showing Suggestion: Handwritten notes are much more effective than generic flyers. Have an intern or a friend help you hand write cards to tape to neighbors’ doors. These don’t have to be long messages, it just helps show that you care about their attendance enough to add a personal touch.

8. Create Branded Informational Packets

mockup of a house information packet

As part of your open house prep time, put together easy-to-digest informational packets for attendees. These should include the basic information about the property such as square footage, pet policies, unique assets, etc., but also information about the surrounding area like the school district, park district, employment statistics, and more. 

You can also include local historic monuments, fun facts about the area, and of course, your contact information. Think of this as a primer for everything someone would want to know if they’ve never heard of the area.

Showing Suggestion: Though this can be time-consuming, purchase clear binder booklets with your branding and package the information up nice and neat. A visually appealing booklet will not only demonstrate your own care as an agent, but will also be more enticing for someone to flip through vs a hastily stapled stack of papers.

9. Offer Promotional Trinkets To Go

branded pen on a pink background

In addition to the goody bags, informational packets, and free refreshments, you should also have some of your own branded items for guests to take with them as they leave. These can include the usual types of promotional items like pens, notepads, water bottles, and keychains. Putting your brand name and phone number on frequently-used items like these will help potential clients remember you when they’re in need of an agent’s services in the future.

Showing Suggestion: These days you can get promotional branding on almost anything, so get a little more creative and offer items like collapsable keychain umbrellas or even small Bluetooth speakers. Since promotional materials aren’t area-specific, you can order these items in bulk to save on costs and use them at all your events.

10. Put Together a Neighborhood Highlights Board

woman looking at a bulletin board

Since you can’t provide samples from parks, museums, or other areas of interest, create a neighborhood highlights board with photos and information about all the fun things to do in the area. 

If you know that your audience is mainly families with children or young adults looking to rent, you can tailor the board to meet these needs by pointing out things like nearby playgrounds and schools or popular bars and nightlife. This type of visual display can be a lot more effective at inspiring interest than just an informational packet.

Showing Suggestion: To further help open house guests visualize themselves living there, you could also include things like a local events calendar for the next month or a map of a local highlights walking tour that guests can embark on after the showing.

11. Host a Local Art Show

local art of plants hanging up on a living room wall

To bring even more visual interest to the open house, you could host an art show featuring the work of nearby artists. This will help to further highlight the unique benefits of the area, and can also allow you to draw a larger crowd as the artists and their friends and family will likely attend. Reach out to local studios and art associations and see if any of their students are interested in exposure and sales of their work.

Showing Suggestion: If you’re having trouble connecting with local art hubs, try searching for Facebook pages instead and messaging the page admins. They’ll likely be happy to spread the word to other members of the group.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hosting an Open House

Though open houses are a trusted strategy for generating leads, they’re not right for every situation. Before you start planning your event and looking further into open house ideas, ask yourself the following questions to make sure it’s a good move for you.

1. Is My Property in the Right Location for This to Make Sense?

Properties in areas with a lot of foot traffic are ideal for open houses. This way you can advertise to locals with signs and pamphlets beforehand and potentially attract a few walk-in guests as well. Curb appeal is also an important factor to consider. No matter how nice a home is on the inside, if the outside looks too rough people aren’t going to want to stop in. 

Parking is another important point. Street parking can be tough in many central city areas, so try to set aside driveway space if possible. If your property checks these three boxes then an open house is a great idea, but if not, you may want to reconsider.

2. Will My Client Want to Attend?

If you think that the owner of the property will insist on attending an open house, either because they want to make sure it’s successful or because they’re uncomfortable with strangers on their property, it may be best to forgo the open house altogether. Though having the owner at the showing isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, it’s usually better if they’re not present as this puts unneeded pressure on you and the guests. Use your best judgment if you find yourself in this situation.

3. Am I Able to Schedule the Open House for the Right Times?

There are typically two best times to have an open house. The first is weekday evenings, usually around 6:30 pm, so that people can go directly after work. The second is weekend mornings, usually around 10 am. This is because most people are busy with other activities during weekend afternoons and often have dinner or nighttime plans as well. 

If you won’t be available to host an open house during these windows of time because of other commitments, you likely won’t attract a large enough audience for the showing to be worth your time.

4. Did I Advertise on Every Available Channel?

It’s hard to get people to attend an open house, so if you don’t have time to go all out with your advertising it’s probably best to postpone the event to a few days later. Make sure you are putting up signage in the area of the open house to attract foot traffic, sending postcards to the surrounding area, emailing your prospect list to let them know about the event, and making use of both regular posts and advertisements on Facebook and Instagram.

5. Did I Depersonalize the Home?

Make arrangements with your client ahead of time to give yourself space before the event to go through the home and depersonalize the rooms. This means tidying up and clearing out any personal items like laundry, dishes, cards, stacks of paper, shoes, basically anything that would look out of place in a staged home. 

You want visitors to be able to imagine themselves living there, which is difficult and awkward to do when you’re touring a space that someone is clearly still occupying. If your client is uncomfortable with you cleaning things up, you’ll want to know beforehand. And, don’t forget to make arrangements for any pets to be out of the building for the duration of the open house as well!

We hope these open house ideas will help inspire you and make your next event a success. Once you’ve locked down potential tenants for the property, you can conduct your rental application and tenant screening processes online through RentSpree. Check out our demo to learn more.