Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

Open Houses are a key component of many agent business plans — but it’s important to stay safe. Given below are some suggestions to help you protect yourself.

Open houses are essential for marketing both a home and ourselves. But they also expose us to people we don’t know, and thus increase our need for caution. A recent case in North Carolina highlights our vulnerability and the need for safety measures whenever we are alone with strangers in a home. We offer these tips for safe, smart open houses (note that many of these ideas also serve for touring homes with unknown clients as well).

Before an Open

  •  Go to the home to check the strength of your cell phone’s signal. If you don’t get good reception, locate the land lines in the house.
  • Charge your phone fully.
  • Go to the neighbors on each side of and across from the home. Introduce yourself to the residents and let them know you’re hosting an open house, explaining why there will be increased traffic and strangers for a few hours. You then gain extra eyes for safety—and perhaps future clients as well.
  • Ask the seller to remove anything in the house that might entice a thief: small handheld devices, prescription drugs, jewelry, etc.

At the Open

  •  Unlock all doors. Not only does this allow people to move through the house, it allows you to escape quickly if you need to do so.
  • Turn on all lights, pull back curtains, lift blinds.  Doing so makes the home welcoming, but also increases your visibility to people who pass by.
  • Visitors go first.  When guiding visitors through the home, stay behind them. You can gesture to the kitchen or bedroom, for example, politely standing aside so they can go in first.
  • Let family-members, friends or colleagues know what you’re doing.  Be sure someone knows where you are and can check on you.
  • Consider having a safe word/phrase to use if you need help. For instance, maybe your phrase is “yellow file.” If your friend/family calls you and you’re in trouble but can’t say so, you can say “Can you check the yellow file?” This is the signal to call the police.

Beware of cellars, attics, and garages.  Any enclosed space where you cannot get away can be dangerous.

With these simple measures, your open house can be a safe, successful, experience.

Open Houses are a great way to promote yourself and get new clients. Check out these ideas to help make them more successful!

Open houses: In a few hours, we market both a home and ourselves.  How can we make the most of this opportunity? Here are a few creative tips from successful professionals in the field:

Neighborhood Open House

 Before launching public open houses, host an open house for neighbors only.

  • Send out a postcard a week prior to the event that acts as invitation, announcement, and advertisement for you
  • Offer a free comparative market analysis for neighbors
  • Create a local market overview flyer to hand out to neighbors as they come through the door (for another great flyer idea, read our previous post regarding partnering with vendors)

 Ice Breaker Questions

Ask questions that break the ice and establish meaningful connections.

  •  Survey: Ask visitors to give you feedback about the house that you can pass the information back to sellers– ask them what their favorite/least favorite thing is about the home
  • Education:  Ask visitors if they know how to read a CMA, a pest report, disclosures, or CC &Rs. Offer to walk them through these documents
  • Wish lists: Ask prospective buyers what they most want in a home and offer to provide a customized list of available properties based on these specific needs. If you bring a tablet or smart phone to the open house, you can even pull up RMLS search data right there and email it to your new client

Alternative to the Old Sign-in Sheet

  •  Hold a drawing that ensures you get “real” contact information. You can give away:
  • Movie tickets
  • Gift cards
  • Coupons for savings on home inspection (perhaps partner with a trusted home inspector willing to give a discount to your future clients)

Be Prepared to Impress

 This is your chance to establish yourself as an expert, so it’s a good idea to know your facts about the market both in general and specific to this home:

  • Offer a local market snapshot flyer branded with your contact information
  • Know the number of homes listed/sold/price points/multiple offer situations in your listing’s area.


Open Houses can be a great way of finding new clients.  And, if a prospect doesn’t fit your preferred price point, property type, or target area — or needs to sell a property in another location —  input their name and contact information into ReferralExchange.  We’ll match them with 3 great agents from our network, and pay you 25% of the referred-side commission when the deal closes.

Featuring vendors at your open houses and in listing presentations can help you and your sellers! Promote your vendors with a flyer and signage in exchange for client discounts.

A home sells best when it shows best:  we all know this. But sellers don’t always have the money, time, or connections to make it happen. Staging, yard work, fresh paint, and interior repairs by a trusted resource —all necessary for a quick sale at a good price—can be overwhelming. You can help by forging partnerships with local experts. Find a landscaper, a painter, a handy person who will do the work for your clients at a discount in exchange for promotion. You can:

  • Display signs around the property with the vendors’ information
  • Allow vendors to display brochures inside the home
  • Create flyers for your listing that include names and contact information of all vendors who worked on the property
  • Include these vendors and their services in your listing presentation

This relationship is a win-win-win. First, you have happy, grateful clients; second, a home that will most likely sell faster and for a better price; and third, you maximize the network within your own community: After all, since your referrals strengthen those vendors’ businesses, you can expect referrals in return.