How to use food to make your open house a success 
Amber McCulloch
August 23, 2022 — Read in 4.3 mins · 860 words

Hosting an open house has benefits far beyond attracting offers on a listing. Open houses are an excellent way to meet new buyer clients, network with other agents, and create connections and name recognition within the community you serve. In short, they can play a key role in your marketing plan when used effectively. So how do you ensure that your open house works overtime for you and your clients? The easiest way to take your open house up a notch is to offer food! 

Open houses are all about first impressions – the visitors’ impression of the home, other agents’ impression of your professionalism, and potential new clients’ impression of you and how you do business. You want to come across as warm, knowledgeable, professional, and willing to go the extra mile.  And the food you serve at an open house can go a long way in helping you tell that story. 

Can an open house be successful without food? Yes, of course! So don’t just grab a bag of chips and some store-bought cookies in hopes that it will help you win new business or magically generate multiple offers on a property. Instead, be thoughtful, strategic and intentional about the food you serve, and you’ll create a positive and memorable impression that will help build your brand for the long term. 

Show your current clients and potential buyers that you are a thoughtful agent that goes above and beyond.

Again, having snacks at your open house will likely not make or break a sale, but it does show your client and future clients that you aren’t about doing the bare minimum. You are an agent who thinks ahead, goes the extra mile, and values hospitality.

Use your open house menu as a way to demonstrate your knowledge of the neighborhood.

Picking up treats or food items from local bakeries and eateries is a great way to show that you know the area on a deeper level. These items can be conversation starters and give you an in to demonstrate your community knowledge and involvement. Another potential win? Tagging those local businesses in a social media post can also expand your reach and help publicize the open house to a wider audience. 

Think about the food you serve at an open house as a marketing opportunity.

Extend the impact of your open house by including a takeaway treat that incorporates your branding and contact information. Create custom labels to apply to individually wrapped snacks or attach your business card to a takeaway bag or carton of goodies. Turn your open house food into swag!

Look for ways to partner with related industry professionals to offset costs. 

There are a number of professionals related to real estate that will happily partner with you to share or offset the cost of food at your open house. Mortgage brokers are often willing to sponsor open house treats, and this work especially well for broker open houses. 

So if you’re convinced to start being more intentional and thoughtful about the food you offer at your next open house, here are some tips for what to include (and what to avoid!).

  • Focus on easy-to-nibble (non-messy) finger foods – some good options include:
    • Cookies/Brownies (just make sure they look fresh and high-quality)
    • Mini cupcakes
    • Fresh fruit platters
    • Vegetable trays
    • Meat and cheese pinwheels
    • Meatballs (just stick a toothpick in each one and display them on a nice platter!)
    • Bite-sized chocolates or cake bites
    • Individually wrapped/prepared snacks (like mini charcuterie boxes or bags of popcorn or roasted nuts)
  • Try to offer something unique and “Instagrammable” or an option that may prompt a conversation
  • Order food items from locally beloved bakeries, cafes, and restaurants
  • Include individually wrapped/packaged options
  • Always have water available – mini water bottles are perfect
  • Match your food options/budget to your listing – higher end luxury listings should have different food options than high-rise condos in the city 
  • Look for ways to include your branding in the food spread
  • Take pre-packaged foods out of their packages and display them attractively
  • Label the food you’re serving and note any allergens
  • Include seasonal/festive foods when appropriate
  • Consider including a theme that fits with the home’s décor
  • Include a little takeaway gift (with your contact information!) that’s easy to grab-and-go
  • Only put a few treats out at a time and stagger them throughout the open house so that everyone has a chance to nibble
  • Always place a wastebasket near the food station so that it’s easy to find

And here’s a few tips for what to avoid when planning your open house menu:

  • Avoid messy foods
  • Avoid shared plates/communal bowls
  • Avoid foods that need to stay hot or cool
  • Avoid anything with unpleasant smells
  • Avoid alcohol – especially dark colored wine that can stain
  • Avoid paper plates and anything requiring utensils

Keep these tips in mind when deciding what food to include at your next open house, and you’ll be well on your way to making a memorable, positive impression with your clients, potential clients, neighborhood businesses, other real estate agents, and industry professionals.

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