listing real estate industry Holding an Open House

Approaching Buyers During an Open House

By Todd Sumney on May 21, 2019
Todd Sumney

An open house is a little like an audition—you show off a home with the hope that visitors will see something they like and want to learn more about the property. And, as in any audition, you want to do your best and ace the few minutes you have on stage.

People come to open houses for all kinds of different reasons: because they are deep in the market and want to find the home of their dreams, because they are just bored on a Saturday, because they are a nosy neighbor (a potential home seller), and everything in between. Impressing every visitor increases the chances you’ll sell the home, earn new leads, and inspire guests to refer you to their friends and families.

Communication is key, but how much communication is too much or too little? We’ve all been at open houses where the agent constantly bugged the attendees or barely engaged guests. Neither strategy is conducive to success.

So what is the best way to approach buyers during an open house? That depends on the property, the attendee, the flow of the event … and you.


A Warm Welcome

Ideally, the first person to greet open house visitors as they walk through the front door is the real estate agent. Ideally, you say hello, thank them for taking the time to attend, and ask them to fill out a survey on a clipboard providing their feedback of the home and their contact information, and tell them to be sure to find you with any questions.

Of course, that perfect world doesn’t always exist—you might be busy helping other guests and unable to station yourself near the front door (and in an alternately perfect world, the open house is so busy with so many interested guests that you’re all over the house and constantly engaged in conversation …). When that happens, and you know someone is inside you didn’t get to say hi to, be sure to find and welcome them before they leave. Just letting guests know that you’re the host gives them confidence that you’re there for their needs.

The Proper Amount of Space

Showing a property when it’s just the agent and the client is a more direct, more intimate experience because you’re acting as a guide and a trusted ally in highlighting what the home offers. With an open house, however, the agent should play the role of a gracious host. And a good host at any party doesn’t talk the guests’ ears off, but ensures everyone is having a good time.

An agent who follows open house visitors from room to room creates an uncomfortable situation for people who just want to browse. But an agent who completely ignores guests risks losing out on an opportunity with people who are genuinely interested in the property or the neighborhood and might be ready for the right buyer’s agent to help find them the perfect home. Striking a balance between annoying and invisible can be tricky, but it’s essential for letting open house guests experience the property and getting your input when they want it.

Small Talk, Not Hard Sells

When open house visitors ask questions about the property, of course you should be going out of the way to answer them. However, if they are just perusing, the hard sell can be a turn-off, hastening guests out the door. Instead of being a salesperson at an open house, be a conversationalist. Have the heart of a helpful servant - there to help and serve customers with nothing expected in return. Top agents have mastered this service mindset and approach. Ask open-ended questions (e.g., “Have you seen a lot of homes today?” or “Do you like this neighborhood?”) that focus more on visitors’ experiences and less on the home they are looking at. From their replies, you can gauge how much interest guests have in the property or uncover why they walked through the front door in the first place. Uncovering what their “need” is and helping serve and fill that need is the ultimate success.

A Fond Farewell

Unless you are engaged with another guest, be sure to take at least a minute to say goodbye to every attendee, thank them, and ask a few final questions before they go. Here, at the end, you can sell a little bit. Reviewing their feedback on the survey you gave them when they walked in the door can yield a lot of insight and engagement if you ask the right questions. Ask visitors what they thought of the home, how fast they are looking to make a move, and if they have any additional questions for you. What did they like and not like about the property? What are they looking for in their next home? Are they working with an agent? They might not give the answers you’re hoping for, but you’re nonetheless establishing a relationship and goodwill.

An open house is not just to build a connection between the buyer and the property, but also to build a connection between buyers, sellers and you. Be a pleasant, informative, accommodating and serving host, and that connection can lead to a relationship that can last long after you close up shop for the afternoon.

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