Top 10 Things Agents Should Bring to Every “Open House”

By Tips & Strategies

Do you have an upcoming open house? Feeling overwhelmed about what to bring? Scared you’ll leave something at home and look like a fool in front of your guests?

I get it. I remember my open houses in my beginning years. I’d spend the whole morning frantically making sure I have everything I’d need for the day. Most times I’d over-prepare to counteract feeling underprepared! (Don’t get my husband started on my tendency to do this when I pack for vacations!)

The thing is, without a game plan, you feel overwhelmed or underprepared… two qualities you don’t want to portray in front of open house guests!

I’ve created this list of ten things you should bring to every open house to make life a little easier for you. With confidence that you’re prepared for your open houses, you’ll be in the mindset to meet new clients. Don’t second guess yourself, or stress any longer about what to bring—put your energy toward turning your open house guests into lifelong clients!

    1. Directional signs (and water jug): Although the meat of your open house marketing is done online or door-to-door, you need to make it easy for people to find your open house (whether they’re stumbling upon it or purposefully coming due to your marketing).
      Aim to have at least ten directional signs pointing the way to your open house. Leave no turn behind! Your signs are like cookie crumbs leading the way to the open house—don’t frustrate people by leaving off turns or giving dead ends. Prior to the open house, map the routes guests would take to get to the house so you can bring the exact amount of directionals you’ll need.
      Your signs are an extension of you, so make sure they look good. Wipe them down before the open house and regularly replace tattered ones. People have walked up to me while placing out signs just to comment on the level of care I took with my business… and those people turned into clients!
      If you live in an area that has dry, hard ground, bring a water jug to soften the ground when using stakes.
    2. Balloons: Yes, I know it’s 2017. I still believe in placing balloons on your directionals! They’re eye-catching and they send the signal that your open house is active (and they aren’t being led to an open house that happened a week ago). I bought a helium tank to use straight from my trunk, but many grocery stores can whip up a set up balloons for you as you head out to your open house. Sure, you can use other eye-catching tools like windmills or feather flags, but a waving balloon sends the message that the open house is current (unless you’re in hot or rainy climate, which causes the balloons to deflate fast…in that case, use something else eye-catching, or the reusable balloons that don’t require helium).
    3. Sign-in sheets on clipboards with pens that work: <- I’m specific here for a reason. A sign-in book or iPad program is less effective than clipboards in the hands of your guests as they tour the home. On that clipboard is a feedback survey where they also sign up for a drawing. Bring several clipboards with you, each with at least a dozen sign-in sheets attached (have extras ready to go in your car, too).
      And, make sure your pens work! A dead pen could give an apathetic guest an easy-out for not signing in. (I have a template for the perfect sign-in sheet and break down how to use it in my book, Your Key to Open House Success).
    4. Pieces of value (POV): Here’s where most real estate agents get overwhelmed. They want to pack the house with all kinds of information about the market, nearby golf courses, school info, dog parks, stats, more stats, and even more stats. The more paperwork they carry into the open house, the more prepared they feel. But, quantity does not equal quality.
      Here’s where they go wrong: 1) With their mound of paperwork, they’ve taken over important real estate in the house, making it look messy and cluttered (so the guests who are out shopping for a listing agent pass them by because they don’t want the agent making their house look the same at an open house); and 2) They’ve given away great follow-up opportunities. ”Oh, you have two dogs—let me send you cool sheet I have on area dog parks. Is this the best email address for me to send that to?” (said pointing to the sign-in sheet on the clipboard). Create a packet for your open house guests (preferably in a professional pocket folder with your branding on it). On one side you’ll place information for buyers (POVs such as Buying Steps and a piece outlining the value you bring as a buyers’ agent and how you’re different than other agents) and on the other you’ll have information for sellers (One-Page Marketing Commitment, listing steps). If you have a bio piece or brochure, place that in the packet as well. These packets can be pre-made, ready to go anytime you’re on your way to an open house. You can add one or two market-specific POVs that you’ve updated the day before the open house (overall market stats or stats specific to the neighborhood and one that has general information about recent actives and solds), but you don’t want to overwhelm your guests with so much info that they toss your packet to the bottom of their car only to be bothered with when they have more time (aka, never). Your conversations should reveal your market and neighborhood knowledge and give opportunity to follow-up meetings/conversations so you can give them additional information.
    5. Cheat sheet or computer: Ever go completely blank? The open house guest asks you the square footage of the home and you just give a minute long, “Uhhhhh?” Been there, done that. Bring some notes on the house, the neighborhood and the market for yourself so if you get caught off guard, all you need to do is ask for a quick second to refresh your memory (it’s okay to do this at an open house, it’ll only make you seem more human and less like a sales-y robot… as long as you seem otherwise professional and aren’t referring to this sheet for everything).
    6. Refreshments (don’t forget platters, cups, napkins!): I’m a firm believer in refreshments at open houses. For one, they provide a nice icebreaker. More importantly, they set the stage, showing that you’re a professional who puts care and time into everything you do. As mentioned above, many of your guests will be potential sellers, scouting for a listing agent. Make a good impression—prove you do more than show up and sit in a house… you create an event out of each open house. Think past the grocery store packaged cookies and use popular local bakeries or seasonal goodies that will make your open house stand out against the competition.
    7. Candle/lighter: Because not every house will smell good! Use nicer candles that smell like baked goods and not that “obvious cheap candle smell.” (Just make sure you give it enough time to cool down before you leave… or leave it as a gift for the seller.)
    8. Notepad (or phone): To take notes on your guests as they leave. As soon as a guest leaves (if you’re not speaking with another guest) take notes on your conversation with them, adding in any personal information they gave you. Now you can easily make your thank-you notes more personal, which builds upon the rapport you started when you met.
    9. Thank-you notes: If you have any down time during your open house, pull out your thank-you notes and write past guests or people in your database. This is a major time saver and keeps you in the right mindset when your next guest walks in!
    10. The right attitude: Okay, you knew this one was coming! I wish I didn’t have to point this one out, but as someone who’s visited many open houses, (I like to see what others are doing and stay on top of my market!) I’ve seen firsthand that some people leave their best attitude at home.
      It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a slow open house or if the last person turned out to be a looky-lou who didn’t even acknowledge you as a human being, the moment someone walks into your open house it’s time to hit the refresh button and begin building rapport with that person.
      How do you build rapport? You listen more than you talk, and when you do talk, you provide solutions to problems they present or talk about how you’ve helped others find solutions, and you find common ground with them (all elements to building relationships). Be the person that you’d want to do business with if you needed to buy or sell your largest asset. Positive always wins over negative.

Bonus item – Your ekey/phone!: Yes, I’ve had agents cancel last-minute on open houses because they left their ekey/phone at home and had no other way of getting into the home.

If you really want to learn how to dominate open houses—through more leads and through learning how to structure your business so that your open house work strengthens your other prospecting activities—then you’ll want to check out my book, Your Key to Open House Success.

What do you make sure to bring to every open house?

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