In a hot real estate market, just listing a home can lead to buyers and their agents rushing to learn more about the property. But for cooler markets, any boost you can get to successfully sell a home as quickly as possible might be a strategy worth pursuing.

Broker opens—open houses aimed at real estate agents instead of buyers—are an effective tool to generate excitement for listings and encourage attendees to bring back their clients to look at the property. Besides being a selling strategy, this type of event offers a chance for real estate professionals to socialize and network.

More practically, broker opens are great for receiving feedback about the property you are showing. Other agents may offer advice or be brutally honest about what they see, and these opinions can help shape your selling strategy and pinpoint areas of concern you and the seller can address before showing the home to prospects.

Successful broker opens ultimately result in more prospective buyers seeing your listing and a potentially faster sale. Here are five tips for staging a great event.

1. Right day, right time

Evenings and weekends are prime time for real estate agents to meet with clients, show homes to buyers, hold open houses, and anything else that directly interacts with customers and prospective customers. That leaves some downtime during weekday mornings and afternoons, thus offering the perfect opportunity to fit broker opens into your schedule. Moreover, weekdays are the best times to attract the most fellow agents to your event. Be sure to allot at least three hours for the open so that interested brokers have flexibility to fit it into their schedules. This will also give you enough time to interact with attendees, tout the listing, and network. Also, be sure to schedule an open soon after you list in order to create buzz for the property early in your sales cycle.

2. Lunch

The way to a real estate agent’s heart isn’t necessarily through their stomach, but the path definitely gets close! Offering a good lunch improves the odds invitees will show up—and keep showing up for subsequent broker opens. Whereas you can get away with some cookies or light appetizers at a client open house, broker events are more suited for complete meals. Here are a few tips for hosting lunch:

  • Serve food that agents will need to sit down to eat. Getting a box of individually wrapped burritos or subs may seem convenient, but if lunch is too grab-and-go, attendees will do just that and not get a good look at the property.

  • Stage the meal so attendees eat only in certain areas, such as the kitchen or dining room. Don’t encourage a mess that you’ll have to clean up later or that will irritate the seller.

  • Serve good coffee. Splurging for drinks from a coffee shop is worth the money; you don’t want brokers to associate your listing with something cheap.

  • Mention your lunch when advertising the broker open. Many agents won’t show up to an event unless they know there is a meal attached. This doesn’t mean they won’t be serious about your listing—just that you need to provide extra incentive to get them in the door.

3. Raffles

Prize drawings provide another incentive for agents to attend your broker open. One key for making this strategy successful is offering raffle gifts that are enticing enough for agents to stick around for the drawing, but not so expensive that you break the bank. Gift cards are great in this regard—for example, $25 for Starbucks or $50 on Amazon gives winners something of value they can use right away. That said, design the raffle so that attendees must leave feedback to be eligible for the prize. You gain valuable information about your listing this way, and agents won’t mind providing that information because you are offering something in return.

4. Don’t scrimp

The higher the value of your listing, the more impressive your broker open needs to be. An unimpressive lunch spread or a raffle for a $5 gift card in a million-dollar home tour won’t give agents confidence in you or the property. Alternatively, if attendees think your event is high-class, they are more likely to believe the home is worth showing to their clients. Extra touches such as valet parking (particularly in neighborhoods where parking is at a premium), bottles of wine or electronics as raffle prizes, and gifts for every attendee create impressions that agents won’t soon forget.

5. After the event

After the broker open is over (whew!), be sure to personally call every attendee to thank them, ask for feedback, ask if they have any clients who may be interested in your listing, and see if they have any questions. Even if they aren’t interested in your property, the relationship you are building can pay off dividends later when you have another listing or if the agent has a property that might appeal to your buyers.

Brokers opens are, or course, primarily about selling your property, but they are also about networking and professional courtesy. Use the events to build rapport and strengthen your business for the long term.

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