12 Mistakes agents should avoid at their next open house
Amber McCulloch
August 2, 2022 — Read in 7 mins

Successful real estate agents know that the benefits of staging an open house extend much further than just attracting interest in a property. Open houses can be a key marketing opportunity for your business that can lead to dozens of new clients, leads, and listings. If you want to make the most out of your open houses for yourself and your sellers, here are 12 mistakes you should avoid: 

  1. Not emphasizing the importance of a clean, decluttered home 

As an agent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that people should know that their house needs to be clean and decluttered before putting it on the market and hosting an open house. Don’t make that mistake. Be specific about what the seller needs to do inside the home to put the property’s best foot forward. Emphasize the importance of cleaning and be ready with recommendations for professionals that can help. Before the open house, give your clients an Open House/Showing Checklist with all the tasks and to-dos that you recommend. Be detailed and mention things like moving all small appliances to cupboards; cleaning/hiding pet beds, bowls, and toys; removing personal photos and mementos; and above all…to clean, clean, clean!

  1. Overlooking curb appeal

Buyers form their first impression before stepping foot into the house. Take a critical look at the outside of your client’s home. Are there things that the sellers can do to improve its look and feel? Don’t let dirty stucco, crumbling steps, stained sidewalks, mildewed siding, or out-of-control landscaping, etc. deter potential buyers. Have a frank and honest discussion with your sellers and advise them on what a difference a few improvements could make.

  1. Arriving too “late”

Allow yourself extra time to arrive and prepare for the open house. You will want to have a few minutes to say goodbye to the sellers (as you shoo them out the door) and to walk through the home before prospects start arriving. Use the extra few minutes to tidy up anything the owners might have overlooked, set up your marketing materials, open blinds, turn on lights, etc. That way, when prospects start arriving, you will be calm and collected and ready to answer all their questions.

  1. Not clarifying shoe/no shoe preferences

Your sellers will not appreciate mud being tracked across their favorite rug or scuffs being left on their hardwoods during their open house. Include mats or a clearly delineated space for attendees to leave their shoes and/or offer booties or shoe coverings during the open house. Also, be sure to let visitors know what to do with the booties once they’ve toured the property. This can be as simple as setting up a discard basket with a sign. Having a shoe removal station at the front door is a thoughtful touch that will show both your sellers and potential buyers that you are an agent that values your client’s property and are willing to go the extra mile.

  1. Letting the owners stay or leave too late

Most people know that allowing the owners to stay for an open house or a showing is a bad idea, but even the best real estate agents have had to deal with this situation.  Be clear and set expectations ahead of time with your sellers. Often, owners will leave cleaning and prepping their home for the open house to the very last minute and will be rushing out the door while visitors are coming in. This creates an awkward situation that is best avoided. Check in with your buyers the week and day before the open house and make sure that they are prepared to leave when the time comes.

  1. Lighting strongly scented candles

Candles are great for ambiance but be wary of heavily scented candles, which can be a red flag to buyers. What odors are those candles trying to hide? Bad smells in general are a huge problem for buyers, so take steps to eliminate the source of odors before the open house. Remind your clients to refrain from cooking anything that could leave a lingering smell in the home the day before the open house. As a side note – Febreze works wonders!

  1. Playing music

Music sounds like a good idea, but it can also be a red flag to open house visitors. Buyers might assume that you are trying to cover up noise from neighbors, traffic, a nearby park, etc. Better to err on the side of silence!

  1. Leaving pets on the premises

Make sure all pets are removed from the premises during open houses and showings if possible. Many potential buyers are allergic, and you never know how the pet might act to having strangers in their home. In fact, many agents recommend eliminating all (or most) of the evidence that a pet lives on the property so as not to turn off buyers. Alternately, you can advise clients to leave a few choice items that speak to the home being comfortable for pets, but make sure the beds/toys are clean, well-kept and do not smell. For more exotic pets – like snakes and large fish tanks, etc. – that cannot be moved, ensure that they are well secured, that the rooms are still accessible to the public, and that everything looks clean, neat, and cared for.

  1. Blocking off rooms or areas of the property

Blocking off rooms or making some areas inaccessible during showings or open houses is a big mistake. Buyers will wonder what’s behind the door and will leave without a full sense of the property. Strongly advise your clients against using a room or the garage as a storage space and closing it off during the open house.   

  1. Leaving prospects in the dark

Beware of (literally) leaving visitors in the dark during the open house. The light that a house gets is one of its biggest selling points. Make sure the space appears as bright and cheerful as possible. Turn on the lights, open the blinds and curtains, turn on lamps. This is not the time to worry about the power bill!

  1. Not providing enough information about the property

Truly interested buyers will want to know all the details about the property and you need to have them readily available. Memorize the most important facts and figures and be able to confidently answer visitors’ questions. Talk to your sellers to gather information about the age of appliances, features, and updates that were made to the property and include them in a simple one-sheet print out to give to prospects. 

  1. Failing to follow up 

The number one mistake agents make with open houses is failing to follow up with the visitors! Have an email already prepared and ready to send to open house attendees. Using a sign-in app on an iPad is a better method than the old pen and paper and will cut down on the tedious task of typing all the information into your CRM or email program. Many of these apps can be integrated with your CRM so it’s a seamless process! Keep your follow up message short, ask for feedback on the open house, and mention that there are similar homes in the area that you would be happy to show them. This is one of the most effective ways to build your business!

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