Avoid These Ten Real Estate Open House Mistakes

The Problems With Real Estate Open Houses

Real Estate Open House Mistakes







Let’s get one thing straight and out of the way. Having a real estate open house is NOT necessary to sell a home! If a serious buyer is in the market to purchase a home they will always call to schedule an appointment to see it. It is really silly to think otherwise. Of course, this is not what some Realtors who make open houses a regular part of their business will have you believe.

One of the biggest real estate myths is that open houses work to sell homes. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Open houses do not work to sell homes!  According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors, less than 2 percent of all home sales occur as a direct result of an open house.

So you may be wondering why you see open house signs all over the place on most Sunday afternoons? The answer is an easy one. Open houses are a great way for a Realtor to obtain new prospects for business somewhere down the line. It could be one of the neighbors who stop by because they are thinking about selling their home in the near future. They are there to check out the competition and get a feel for the market. Another likely visitor is a buyer who can’t qualify for the price point of the home being held open but is actively looking at another price point.

In both cases, the Realtor hanging out at an open house has found themselves potential additional real estate prospects. There are lots of real estate agents who need to do open houses as a means of generating business.

Is it possible you could get really lucky and sell your home at an open house? Of course but just don’t plan on it!

If you don’t mind the nosy neighbors, buyers who aren’t qualified to pay your asking price and those who just like looking at nice home while out on their Sunday afternoon drive, then by all means, go ahead and have an open house.

Mistakes to Avoid in an Open House

If you are still not convinced that having an open house isn’t necessary and truly believe that having one may be beneficial for selling your home, make sure you avoid doing anything to turn buyers off.

The idea of bringing potential buyers into your house to get an up close and personal look at what they would be buying is not a bad idea – it can certainly backfire, though, if you are not careful. You will want to make sure that they see things in an ideal state, one that invites an image of a clean, happy and stress-free home life. Here are ten real estate open house mistakes to avoid.

1. A Messy Home

Open House Mistakes - Cluttered MessWhen you think about how much money a home actually costs, it is easy to understand why people expect cleanliness in an open house. Really, presenting a clean product for purchase is the least you can do when trying to get someone to buy your house. Preparing for showings is especially important when there are potentially a large number of visitors dropping by for a look.

Surprisingly, though, not everyone meets the mark when it comes to a clean house. If you have to hire a cleaning service to get the job done, do so. Just make sure your house is spotless before you let potential buyers through the door. Having a messy home is certainly a real estate open house mistake you will want to avoid.

2. Music

There are very few stores you go to nowadays that do not have some sort of music playing. The idea is that silence is more uncomfortable that innocuous music. Some home sellers think the same thing applies to an open house, but in reality it doesn’t. Playing music, even the most mundane music you can find, can still backfire on you.

First, you risk offending potential buyers. No matter what music you choose there will be someone who does not like it. Second, you may make buyers suspicious that there are other sounds you are trying to cover up – such as construction, playgrounds or road noise.

3. Pets

Remove Pets From an Open HousePets bring a great amount of joy into our lives. However, they can be a real problem when you are showing your home. This is true for several reasons. Logistically they make things difficult because you have to keep them separate from the viewers of the home. This means blocking off areas of the house, a real no-no in an open house. They also behave unpredictably. The last thing you want is Fido leaving his mark on the floor right in front of the guests.

Take the pets to a friend’s home for the day when you are showing and do your best to eliminate signs of pet habitation, including toys, bedding, stains, and smells. Selling a home with pets takes extra care and consideration. There are some buyers who see signs of pets as a complete turnoff. This is certainly one of the top real estate open house mistakes to avoid.

4. Keep the lights on

People need to be able to see what you have to offer and the only way they can do that is with the lights on. Now is not the time to be in energy saving mode. Keep all the lights on that need to be on for viewers to see the details of the house, especially as the light wanes in the later part of the day. They have no idea where the light switches are.

You also want things to look bright and cheery, which requires good lighting. A dark home is actually a reason that a number of buyers give when providing feedback when they decide not to purchase a property. A dark home can certainly give a buyer a negative impression. Not providing ample light falls into one of the top ten reasons take make buyers dislike your home.

5. Clutter

Next to dirt and grime, clutter is one of the major killers of a good open house. Make sure all the clutter is put away. The term DE-clutter is often bandied about in real estate circles.  Buyers need to be able to see what the house really has to offer in terms of space and style. Clutter makes this impossible. It also makes the house look messy and unkempt.

Clutter also makes it more difficult for buyers to picture themselves living in the home. Your old mail, favorite figurines and boxes from past purchases all get in the way of the buyer’s imagination and make your home look unappealing. This is an easily corrected real estate open house mistake to avoid.

6. Confidential documents

Classified Real Estate DocumentsThe last thing you want to do is leave out important documents that a potential buyer has no business looking at. Don’t give wandering eyes the opportunity and make sure you put away things that should not be available for public consumption. Things like banks statements, brokerage accounts, relocation papers and even the contract with your Realtor should not be left out in the open.

Not only do you not want to give away important financial information like this that could come back to haunt you in negotiations, it is never a good idea to have others seeing sensitive information. We all like to believe that every person coming through the door is honest as the day is long but that is not always the case.

7. Dirty Exterior

Depending on where you live, your home’s exterior may gather a substantial amount of grime as the season’s turn. You may not have noticed it if it happened gradually, but visitors to the open house are sure to see the mold and mildew on the siding, the clogged gutters, and the dingy windows. Like the home’s interior, the exterior needs to be clean and fresh looking if you want to impress visitors to the home.

8. Uncomfortable Home Temperature

Cold Open HouseThe idea of an open house is to showcase the best your home has to offer. No matter what the temperature is outside, you want to make sure the interior is pleasant and comfortable. There is no excuse for sweltering heat or frigid air inside of the home you are showing. Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature for the day and leave it there.

If your HVAC system cannot maintain a comfortable temperature, chances are you will need to look into repair or replacement before you even think about showing the house. One of the things buyer will certainly scrutinize is how well you have kept up with home maintenance. An open house allows a buyer to go through a home at their leisure and they will be more apt to notice little things about how you keep your property up to snuff.

8. Shoddy Landscaping

You do not need a green thumb to appreciate the appeal of neat landscaping. Making sure your lawn is cut, your sidewalk edged and the dead plants and growth are removed from your bushes and trees is a simple way of making your home stand out.

None of these things take any particular skill to accomplish and all will make the house look better. If you are really not in the mood to get your hands dirty, you can always hire a lawn service or landscaping company to do a basic cleanup before the open house.

10. Bad Smells

Cigarette Smoking Kills Real Estate SalesEventhough this is number ten on the list, awful smells in a home is one of the worst open house mistakes! Your realtor should tell you this at the beginning, but it bears repeating. Smells can be the quickest deal breaker there is in real estate sales. If a potential buyer walks through your door and is greeted by unpleasant odors, you can bet he or she will be going right back out the door as soon as possible. Bad odors are some of the most off-putting aspects of a property and should be addressed long before you open up your house.

If you are a smoker or have pets there are extra precautions that will be necessary to make sure you don’t turn buyers away.

You may need to shampoo the carpet, change the flooring or fix the plumbing, but do so before you show your house if you want buyers to take the property seriously.

Additional Open House Resources

Again, if you find you really need to hold an open house take the knowledge you have learned here, and avoid these real estate open house mistakes. By doing so you will at least give yourself a fighting chance of finding a buyer.

About the author: The above Real Estate information on 10 real estate open house mistakes to avoid was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

Enjoy This Real Estate Article?
"Subscribe To My Blog - It's FREE and No Spam EVER!"
Get my blog articles in your inbox as soon as they are published!


  1. says

    Kathy I have not done an open house in over ten years. You are right on the money about this being a prospecting activity for a newer agent or Realtor who does not have the skill to generate it otherwise. Real buyers who want to see a property will always schedule a showing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *