To host an effective open house, stay focused on the three main functions it serves:

1. Generate leads
2. Promote your brand
3. Sell the listing

Everything you do before, during, and after should revolve around those primary purposes. When you’ve seen positive results in those areas, you’ll know you’ve had a successful open house. Otherwise, it was likely a waste of your time.

To save you the trouble of figuring things out by trial and error, here’s a list of 18 real estate open house ideas that actually have the power to impact your commission income.

Ideas for Before Your Open House
Ideas for During Your Open House
Ideas for After Your Open House

The Lead Up: Open House Ideas To Implement Before It Happens

How you host your open house is important, of course. We have several ideas about that coming up in the next section.

But setting yourself up for success is equally as important. Ideally, it’s best to start planning and marketing your open house weeks in advance.

1. Do Some Quick Research

Gain a deeper understanding of how to position the home to sell by noticing how it compares to the other similar listings in the area.

Don’t just troll the MLS to get the descriptions and features of neighboring homes for sale. Tour each one in person and take notes.

Then, when open house attendees are looking for something your listing can’t provide, you’ll be considered a walking encyclopedia of homes for sale in the neighborhood when you rattle off features of nearby listings you can’t wait to show them.

(The homeowners won’t appreciate you steering leads to other homes, of course. But the purposes of the open house go beyond just selling the listing, right? Remember your “why.”)

2. Schedule Strategically

The after-work open house may not be effective in a commuter-centric region. But in other types of communities, a lunch-hour showing may prove to yield the best results.

If you decide to hold the home open on the weekend, check local events calendars to ensure you won’t be competing for foot traffic. Schedule the hours the home is open so that you either start or end one hour earlier or later than is customary in the area.

For instance, if most agents hold their listings open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., hold yours from either noon to 3 p.m. or 1 to 4 p.m. This gives your listing undivided attention from either early birds or late stragglers.

The key is to hold the open house that’s, first, likely to be a good time for your ideal client. And second, to schedule it during a time of day when the home will look its best.

For example, rather than hold a downtown penthouse open on a Sunday afternoon, host it at night when the city lights are dazzling and your ideal client is already out enjoying the nightlife. Or rather than holding a west-facing lakefront property open at midday, host it when the evening sunset twinkles off the ripples and reflects onto the patio.

3. Partner With Local Businesses For Cross-promotion

Many small local businesses would be happy to work with you if there’s a chance of expanding their audience. Plus, it’s a great way to create excitement in your local community when there seems to be “buzz” around your open house.

Maybe they could offer giveaways, for example, or serve coffee or baked goods at your refreshment table.

When you reach out to them, start by making it very clear how they’ll benefit – the “what’s in it for me” kind of stuff – before you get into your open house ideas. Feel free to use this template:

Hi [first name],I’m [your name], an agent with [brokerage], and I wanted to run this idea by you to see what you think because it could help you generate more business.

What I love about [name of the business] is that you [share one or two characteristics about the company that you appreciate].

I’ve noticed that our audiences overlap in significant ways, and our brands are similar in that we both [explain the commonalities/similarities].

Would you be interested in working together at an upcoming open house of mine to help each other increase exposure and expand our audiences?

If you’re interested, I’d be happy to stop by sometime soon for a quick meeting so we can discuss further. Please call me at [your phone number] so we can set something up.

Thank you!

[your name, website address, and contact information]

4. Promote Your Open House on Social Media

Posting about your upcoming open house on social media is a cost-effective and efficient way to reach a large audience, including potential buyers who may not have known about the property otherwise.

Share pictures and videos, give them the time and location, and ask engaging questions that spark conversations (like, “What do you think about this park-side bungalow?” or “Which space in this house would be your favorite?”).

Post about the house itself and the open house daily or a few times per week to get your followers excited about it.

5. Promote It on Your Website

There are many ways you could use your real estate website to promote your open house. For example:

  • Feature your favorite photo of it on your home page with the words “Coming Soon!”
  • Write a quick blurb about the home and the open house details in a blog article.
  • Dedicate an entire landing page to it.

6. Use It as Lead Capture Tool

“Lead capturing” is a marketing tactic that involves getting prospects’ contact information in exchange for something they consider to be valuable.

For real estate agents, this often looks like creating a form on your website or through a social media ad. The lead enters their information and hits a “submit” button, which simultaneously passes their information to you and connects them with the resource or whatever the offer is.

In this case, you could enter them into a giveaway if they sign up to attend the open house, for example. Or you could offer to give them a free resource (such as a comprehensive homebuyer’s guide) in person at the open house if they register to attend.

7. Advertise Your Open House With Print Marketing Materials

In other words, create flyers, brochures, door hangers, or signage to promote your open house. Sure, this is one of the open house ideas that may require quite a bit of time, forethought, and effort. But the payoff could be more than worth it.

Now that so much of our world is digitized, print marketing often has the added benefits of novelty and “staying power” (meaning they can linger on coffee tables and fridges for days, rather than going from a private email inbox and into the “trash” within seconds).

The easiest way to do this is to use a full-service, all-in-one system that allows you to do it all in one place – from designing to printing, and from sending to progress-monitoring.

With Market Leader Professional, for example, you can choose from a collection of more than 1,000 pre-built templates, personalize them with an easy-to-use editor, and order professional printing – all from one robust marketing center.

8. Knock on Doors To Invite the Neighbors

Not only does this increase the likelihood of maximizing attendance and getting more leads, but it also helps you establish a physical presence in the neighborhood. And that’s helpful for building trust and showing that you’re the area’s go-to real estate expert.

Before you hit the pavement, boost your confidence and learn door knocking best practices.

Get 7 real estate open house ideas to implement on the big day.

The Execution: Open House Ideas For the Day-of

9. Use Your Open House as a Way To Promote Your Brand

Remember, this is one of the main purposes of holding an open house (alongside generating leads and selling the listing). Think about it – you have a captive audience, and they all have the potential to become your clients! This is the perfect opportunity to show who you are, what your brand is all about, and what you bring to the table.

Your open house itself – the way you manage it – is like an advertisement in itself that demonstrates to buyers (and sellers!) what they can expect when they work with you.

So make a splash. And to make an outstanding first impression, give them something tangible to hold on to, something branded that they’ll actually want to take home. For example:

  • “Goodie bags” with fresh-baked cookies or some other kind of treat
  • Little bags of flower seeds
  • Small potted plants
  • Water bottles with your company name or logo on them

10. Make It an Event – Not Just an Open House

Open houses don’t have to be boring schmooze fests with nothing but a quick tour, a folding table, and some chips and dip to offer. Instead, they can be impressive – and that doesn’t always mean the same thing as “elaborate.”

Here are some outside-the-box real estate open house ideas to make it more than just that – a house that happens to be open.

  • Have live music playing in the living room or out in the backyard.
  • Make it a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Showcase local artists and call it an “art exhibition.”
  • Feature a giveaway or raffle.
  • Make it a barbecue or a chili cook-off.
  • Combine it with a local area celebration. (E.g., the city of Springfield’s 150th anniversary.)

11. Livestream It

Livestreaming your open house on social media is a great way to maximize its marketing power. You’re reaching those in attendance while simultaneously connecting with (potentially at least) a much wider audience online.

First, choose a platform to livestream on, such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or YouTube Live. (Don’t forget to make sure you have a stable internet connection.)

During the livestream, you could provide a virtual tour of the property, highlighting its unique features and answering any questions that viewers may have. You could also share information about the surrounding neighborhood and community.

To make it even more engaging, you could invite viewers to submit questions or participate in a virtual Q&A session. Afterwards, save the video so you can repurpose the content – share it on social media, create a blog post about it, or show it to future leads and clients as an example.

12. Use a Sign-in Sheet

Open houses present perfect lead-capture opportunities. To state the obvious, if your attendees sign in, it means you can follow up with them later. And, as the saying goes, “the money is in the follow up.”

But getting visitors to sign the open house guestbook is uncomfortable, especially for newer agents. Nobody wants to demand personal information from a complete stranger.

So, blame the homeowner.

It’s an old trick, but it works. Tell everyone that comes through the door that the homeowner requests, for security purposes, everyone sign in.

The quick-and-easy way to sign folks up is to use an app or device such as the Open Home Pro iPad (or Android app). Open house visitors are more likely to feel comfortable signing in on an iPad than via the old pen-and-paper-on-a-clipboard routine.

13. Offer Handouts

Again, remember your “why” when holding open houses and offer lots of handouts. (And not just the listing sheet or a dinky flyer.)

Go overboard – a list of the home’s updates, a list of any personal property included in the sale, school and neighborhood information, charts that show average monthly utility costs, and of course, information about you. And be sure to mark all of it with your brand colors, fonts, logos, etc.

If you use promotional items (like branded calendars, pens and pads of paper), throw those in as well. Don’t ask attendees if they want your handout – (kindly!) force them to take one. And let them know there’s other valuable information included, not just the details of this particular home.

14. Be Ready To Answer Common Buyer Questions

Set yourself up to be the expert. You won’t want to find yourself responding to questions about the home with “I don’t know.” So it might help to write a list that includes answers to questions such as the following:

  • How long have the sellers lived in the house?
  • Why are they moving?
  • What is the average monthly utility bill?
  • How much does it cost to maintain the pool?
  • How old are the appliances and systems?
  • How old is the roof?
  • What are the neighbors and the neighborhood like?

Bonus Open House Idea: Rather than reading off a list, however, sometimes it can be compelling and interesting to let the sellers speak for themselves. One way to do that is to play a video during the open house of the sellers responding to common questions and talking about what it’s been like to live in the home.

15. Build Relationships

Some agents sit in on open houses as if they were a volunteer docent at a museum. That’s unfortunate. Because holding an open house is a networker’s dream!

So make the most of it. Don’t simply tour people around the property and field questions. Most likely, that won’t be enough to establish a real connection. And without a connection, it’ll be even more difficult to prove your worth and rise above your competition.

Have your real estate business card handy and actually get to know the attendees. Not just names and small talk – spend time with them and get to know their unique situation, what their current home life is like, and what their interests and concerns are. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them as an agent.

Check out these open house ideas to implement afterwords so you don't miss out on any additional lead generation opportunities.

The Follow Up: Open House Ideas To Implement Afterwards

Even though the open house is over, there are still plenty of ways you can use it to grow your business.

16. Follow Up With the Leads You Generated

If you want to close more deals, improve the way you follow up. It’s among the most important skills to have as a real estate agent.

In the one or two days following your open house, reach out to everyone who signed up to attend beforehand, everyone who actually attended, and (if applicable) everyone who watched your livestream.

Does that sound daunting? Don’t worry – here are two ways to get help.

17. Post About Your Open House on Social Media

Repurposing your livestream and/or any photos and videos you took during the open house for an “in case you missed it” post is a great way to squeeze as much of the lead-generating content from it as you possibly can.

Not only does that keep the momentum and “buzz” going, but anyone who engages with that post (by commenting, “liking,” etc.) may also be a new lead you can follow up with.

18. Track Your Results

The best real estate agents are diligent about tracking performance and soaking up every learning opportunity they can. Why? So they can make strategic adjustments that – little by little – add up to major successes over time.

Performance-tracking enables you to create new benchmarks for future goals, notice what’s working well and what needs improvement, and keeps you focused on what matters most so you know how to prioritize your time and energy.

After each open house, note how many leads you generated. Then check back in later to note how many clients you generated from that one open house. Also note whether the listing sold and the degree to which the open house played a role.