Here's How to Host Your First Open House

A New Agent’s Guide to Hosting a Successful Open House

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Preparing for your first open house can feel like a monumental mission. You have 1,001 tasks to accomplish between now and your open house, and you’re feeling overwhelmed.

You’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to host a successful open house.

The Pros and Cons of Hosting an Open House

Open houses are quite controversial in the real estate community. Not everyone is on board with the idea of hosting an open house. Sounds pretty weird, right?

Here are a few reasons why not everyone jumps at the chance to host an open house:

For all of their drawbacks, we think that open houses are worth your time and energy. Here are a few reasons to host an open house:

Some agents love to host open houses while other agents loathe it, but hosting an open house is one of those things that you need to do at least once to determine if it’s the right path for you. Who knows? You may actually love it and find great success by hosting these events. Here’s how:

Choose the Right Home for an Open House

When you weigh the pros and cons of hosting an open house, you’ll find that some houses will benefit more from the event than others. While you could host an open house at any home, not every one makes for a good open house. To get the maximum benefit from an open house, you’ll need to choose a home that ticks off the following boxes:

The home is in a good location. As they say, location is everything in real estate. It’s also important when hosting an open house. If your location is hard to find or stumble across, you won’t have much success.

The home is in good condition. No one wants to tour a broken-down, dingy home with an awkward layout. The best candidates for open houses are homes that look pristine, almost magazine-ready.

The home is unique. There’s no need to show a cookie cutter home that looks exactly like everyone else’s home on the block. The best homes have something unusual (high ceilings, amazing view, etc.) that make them stand out from comparables.

Give the Seller a “Honey Do” List

Once you’ve decided that the home is a good candidate for an open house, it’s time to issue the seller a to-do list. Every lived-in home needs at least some work before it’s ready to present to the open market. Your seller may be blind to some of those things, and it’s up to you to let them know what needs to be taken care of before you host an open house.

Take a tour of the house, clipboard in hand, and make a list of must-do maintenance tasks. List everything from touch-up paint to replacing broken blinds to oiling the squeaky door to the upstairs linen closet. People who tour an open house are picky, but so are buyers who tour during a private showing, so it makes sense to get these pesky maintenance issues out of the way as soon as possible.

In addition to fulfilling the maintenance tasks, the seller also needs to declutter their home. Because most sellers live in their home while selling, clutter can be a problem. They may not think that their home is cluttered because they live in it and it’s comfortable to them. However, to the prospective buyer, that priceless collection of Precious Moments figurines and those oversized leather sofas butted against each other in the family room look like clutter.

Furnishings should be used to emphasize the space and functionality of the room. It may be an uphill battle to convince the homeowner to store away personal belongings and remove extra pieces of furniture from the house, but it’s a worthy battle to fight. You’ll need to stage the property to make sure that it shows well for prospective buyers, and this is the best way to do it.

Clean House


In addition to decluttering, you’ll definitely want to make sure that the house is cleaned before hosting your open house. Many agents pay to have the house professionally deep-cleaned, because sometimes you can’t trust the seller to do a thorough cleaning of the baseboards and blinds.

When cleaning out the house, don’t forget about the closets and the garage. Open house visitors will always look behind every door. So scrub those oil stains on the garage floor and make sure that there’s not an avalanche of doodads waiting behind closed closet doors.

After the home is cleaned, be careful with the fragrances you use. It’s a mistake to use an artificial fragrance to scent the home because a least one third of visitors will be turned off by the smell or have legitimate allergies to it. This is one of the reasons why agents turn to baking chocolate chip cookies instead. It’s a natural (and desirable) scent. Baking cookies also has the added benefit of giving the house a homey feel.

Last, but certainly not least, pay attention to the home’s curb appeal. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, power-wash the siding, and replace any broken lights on the porch or patio. Remember that open house visitors are nit-picky, and won’t even approach a home that doesn’t look inviting from the curb.

Get There Early


When hosting an open house, be there early. You don’t want to arrive to your open house with a crowd of people waiting at the door. Not only is it tacky, tardiness will also set you up for a stressful day ahead.

You want to arrive early so that you can turn on all of the lights, bake the aforementioned cookies, open blinds and windows, turn on mood music, and prepare your marketing materials. You’ll also want to brush up on details about the house.

So, remember to arrive at your open house at least one hour before the event starts.

Final Thoughts

Hosting an open house is a rite of passage for every real estate agent. Use the above tips to organize a successful, fruitful, and safe open house for your client.

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