10 Tips to Pack Your Next Open House

There's an art to planning the perfect open house and presenting a property in the best light possible. However, you need a contingency plan if you end up receiving more visitors than first expected. Here are ten tips to help you manage a packed open house.

  1. Keep the Sellers Away - This is easy to remember and standard of most open houses, but it's worth repeating: Always keep the sellers out of the picture. If the owners are standing by or scrutinizing visitors, then your packed open house will quickly turn into an empty house. Having the sellers present is also an added burden on your shoulders. Step one is to keep things easy when you can.
  2. The Viewing is Both Inside and Outside - Don't forget to remind people that for properties with a yard, viewing is not restricted to just the interior. Potential home buyers often try to cover multiple listings in one day. Therefore, even if they care about the outdoor spaces of a home, it's easy to forget to take a close look at the yard. That's where the real estate agent's job comes in. Remind visitors that the yard is ready and accessible. This will prevent the interior of your open house from becoming jammed.
  3. Avoid Bottlenecking - A key thing to avoid is bottlenecking. Bottlenecking tends to occur in doorways where people are likely to stop and chat, or in narrow, awkward spaces that can be hard to get through. Keep the flow of traffic moving by encouraging people to look at the entire home, rather than stopping to focus on a single detail for more than a few minutes.
  4. Know Who You're Dealing With - It's important to be able to recognize who you should spend time on, and who's just there for the show. There are different types of visitors that every real estate agent knows, such as former homeowners from a generation ago, the neighbors, or even the real estate agent whom the sellers didn't choose to represent them. Once identified, these are the people you want to cordially push through as fast as possible, versus encouraging true potential buyers to take their time.
  5. Play Crowd Control - On the other hand, regardless of the makeup of the crowd, you need to keep visitors moving. Don't allow people to congregate in certain areas or loiter. There's nothing more frustrating for people with limited time than to get stuck in a hoard of people during an open house. A packed open house means that it's essential that you play crowd control.
  6. Split the Obvious Visitors Into Groups - This step is related to the same issues of knowing the different demographics that will visit the home. It's possible to break down these groups by offering neighbors a special invitation for an early viewing. This means that foot traffic during prime viewing hours will be more likely to draw true buyers.
  7. Signage Makes a Difference - One reason that an open house might get too crowded is a lack of directional signs. Be sure to put up signage to show visitors where to go as they make their way through the home. If it's a small property, use discreet but visible signs.
  8. Refreshments as a Social Cue - There are differing viewpoints on offering refreshments at an open house, but the truth is that most people appreciate a cookie and coffee. However, refreshments can also be used as a social cue. If your open house is packed, but the crowd movement in and out is decently paced, then keep the cookies coming. On the other hand, if the scene starts to take a turn for barnacles at the refreshment table, it's a good time to put the refreshments away.
  9. Extend the Hours - Even if most open houses take place in the morning or mid-afternoon, there are many people who prefer to attend in the evening. Extending your open house hours can make a huge difference to foot traffic flow if you're expecting a large turnout.
  10. Leave Your Cards Out - One reason that many visitors linger is the wait to get contact information from the real estate agent or follow-up instructions. Leaving your personal card out on a table is a great way to cut out unnecessary lingering or small talk.

A crowded open house means that it's more likely you'll get a sale, but it can also be a stressful time. You need to make sure that every viable buyer has a positive experience and that the property looks its best, while still balancing hospitality.

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