Tips for Hosting a Creative Open House

Posted on Jul 28 2014 - 4:29am by Suzanne De Vita

Open HouseOpen houses are hit or miss for most agents. Some even forgo them altogether. Why? Hosting the traditional open house may be a lost art, but never a lost cause. With some imagination (and a little bit of luck), open houses can actually be quite successful.

But how do you entice people to stroll through that door? I’ve rounded up some clever ideas that’ll have even the quietest neighbors singing your praises. Let’s give ‘em something to talk about, shall we?

For goodness’ sake, don’t holler at visitors like a drill sergeant. Mimic that behavior by commanding attention. Turn predictable open house strategies upside down and inside out. Case in point: food. There are ways to serve refreshments beyond the typical fruit basket or cheese platter. Park a cart in the driveway – a hot dog stand, an ice cream cart, even a latte truck will draw in hungry crowds. If time permits, you can also reach out to local restaurants to provide samples of their dishes. A taste of the town? Sign me up!

To really make your open house the center of attention, try spotlighting other local businesses in a mutually beneficial way. Invite an art gallery to lend you artwork (great for staging!) and have a rep on hand for purchases. Or, be ahead of the game and have a lender on hand to pre-qualify buyers. You could even work with your local book store to showcase some of their newest releases, and invite community book clubs!

Game Day Plays
Winning coaches strategize – and winning agents do, too. At your next open house, play up a theme strategically geared toward your listing. You might serve up Tex-Mex if the home has an adobe exterior, for example, or play classical music when showing a Victorian.

The go-big-or-go-home agent might tie everything into that theme, creating the ultimate game day experience for guests. One rather brilliant idea for green home listings is to highlight how the home might be healthy for its next owner. Offer nutritious snacks, info on the home’s natural materials – you can even hire a nurse to do blood pressure screenings!

Themes can carry over to broker opens, too. Luaus, fiestas - everyone (including this girl) loves a party!

Razzle-Dazzle ‘Em
Raffles are a “been there, done that” method for luring in potential buyers, but there are ways to reinvent the wheel on this one. Instead of offering gift certificates or lottery tix, partner with a charity (bonus if it’s one close to the heart of your seller) and donate all proceeds from the raffle. Who doesn’t like helping out a worthy cause? You might also offer incentives, like small gifts to the first 10 visitors, to reel guests in early.

The Guest Connection
No police drama here. Connect with visitors by making your open house interactive. Instead of the usual walkthrough, give each guest a clipboard questionnaire to solicit their feedback. Keep it simple; ask them to rate individual rooms, rate the overall feel of the home, rate the home’s curb appeal – whatever you want! It’ll motivate visitors to view the entire home and notice any features they may have glossed over otherwise. Plus, it will provide valuable info for you and your sellers.

Bonus Round
A few other ideas that don’t quite fit into the above categories. Ready? Go!

• On the day of the open house, place signs at every highway exit en route to your listing.
• Replace those personal photos (every stager’s pet peeve) with framed images of local landmarks and landscapes.
• If the TV is a focal point, consider looping a DVD that showcases all the area has to offer.
• Outfit your guests with swag, such as CDs containing a virtual tour of the home or tumblers with a customized logo.

Next time you’re in the market for an open house (awful joke), get inspired with some of these unconventional ideas. But please, don’t go the HGTV route and give buyers the option to “test run” the home by having them sleep over. Just don’t.

For more chat about the necessity of open houses for your business, check out this discussion in our LinkedIn group. For more tips on how you can rethink your open house strategy, click here.

Suzanne De Vita
is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. She’s invited George Clooney and Cam Newton to her open house this weekend.


28 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. sunnybatra July 31, 2014 at 5:56 am -

    Hi Vita,
    Really great tips and ideas, all the tips sounds like very useful and helpful .Will really execute all these tips,.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Keep posting.
    toronto new condos for sale

  2. Marianne July 31, 2014 at 9:35 am -

    Great Open House ideas..if they are attended. My question, How do you get the word out?

  3. Dixie Oberlin July 31, 2014 at 10:31 am -

    Suzanne, These are great ideas. I will be training a group of new agents and plan to share these ideas with them….plus implement some myself!

  4. Gene Montemore July 31, 2014 at 11:09 am -

    We just started the questionnaire and clipboard method with great success. We were very surprised by how many people filled out their name and email address after they rated the house!

  5. Linda M. Byrne July 31, 2014 at 11:31 am -

    These are good ideas, but, I suggest NOT feeding the public. Other brokers at a broker’s open, but, not the public. That could have bad results.

  6. David Cronnin July 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm -

    Great tips, Suzanne! I especially love the idea about creative food options. Catered meals work well for my clients.

  7. Suzanne De Vita July 31, 2014 at 4:36 pm -

    Thank you all for reading! I appreciate your comments and suggestions.

    • Christel McCrory August 21, 2014 at 12:14 pm -


      Great tips! Especially for me as a new agent. I only hosted 2 Open Houses as of today. Reading you post encourage me to try some different things.

  8. Mary Zentz July 31, 2014 at 6:51 pm -

    The only food I serve is multiple brands or varieties of chocolate chip cookies and call it a taste off —or—- multi varieties of M&Ms which is the best. pretzel, coconut,mint, peanut butter, cupcake…people love this because they didn’t know these even existed…….and you talk to them, when asking their opinion. Holding a bolder event doesn’t sound like a good idea even from the liability perspective. I usually have some cheap kids gifts from the dollar store to keep kids busy while parents look……crayons, coloring books, etc. Most mls or zillow options bring some people to open house……promoting it to my incubated leads is even better…they feel like they know me. Email me for copy of my Ultimate Open House….too big to post here.

    • Susan Derosier August 4, 2014 at 9:46 am -

      Mary, I would love a copy of your Ultimate Open House. Thanks in advance for sharing.


    • Brooke August 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm -

      Mary, I too would love a copy of your ultimate open house. I am always open for switching things up. Thank you Mary for sharing.


    • Bonnie Tamrack August 7, 2014 at 9:40 am -

      Mary, please send The Ultimate Open House. Many thanks!

    • Judy Wahlberg August 30, 2014 at 10:33 am -

      I would like to receive a copy of your open house guide. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Pauline January 27, 2015 at 4:19 pm -

      Mary can you please email me a copy of your ultimate open house, thank you in advance for sharing.

    • Michelle June 12, 2015 at 7:54 am -

      I would love a copy of your Ultimate Open House, if it is not too late!

    • Marilyn Avis September 7, 2015 at 9:40 am -

      Hi Mary, Really hope you are still sharing your
      The Ultimate Open House Guide! I would be
      thrilled to have a copy if you are.
      Many thanks, Marilyn

    • darlene Montrose January 29, 2018 at 8:00 pm -

      Mary, I would love a copy of your Ultimate Open House. Thanks in advance for sharing.

  9. Donna Baker August 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm -

    Great ideas. Love having the ice cream truck out front and the clipboard idea. And yes, Mary, please can I get a copy of your Ultimate Open house guide? Thanks!

  10. Christel McCrory August 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm -


    I enjoyed reading the tips for hosting a creative open house. Thank you these are great tips that I will incorporate.

    Mary, please send me a copy of The Ultimate Open House

  11. Evelyn Castro August 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm -

    Mary, can you please email me The Ultimate Open House materials.


  12. Linda Booth, L. B Booth Realtors September 18, 2014 at 4:09 pm -

    I would very much enjoy having your email with The Ultimate Open House materials.

    Thank you very much,

  13. Isabella August 26, 2015 at 2:17 am -

    Please Send The Ultimate Open House Guide – Thank You !!!

  14. Natasha Davis July 9, 2016 at 12:29 am -

    Would love a copy of the Open House guide. Thank you. I’m going to try the Questionnaire.

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