How to host a successful open home

Posted by Danny Bates on March 21, 2022
Danny Bates
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Hosting a successful open home

An open home is one of the best ways to attract the attention of potential buyers. By inviting them into your newly listed property you’re inviting them to fall in love with your home. Unlike the lavish open homes seen on shows like Million Dollar Listing, things are a little more relaxed here in New Zealand and regular open homes will do the trick, and with fewer hassles. But even though there is no lavish champagne on tap, or performers entertaining your guests, making sure that your home is presented well is crucial in getting the end result you want. So how can you give potential buyers a great first impression of your home?

With the help of our professional real estate sales team, who have hosted hundreds of open homes before, we have narrowed down our top tips that get buyers pouring in and making offers.

Find out what buyers are looking for

The current market can help dictate how much work needs to be put into a property to help maximise the sale price. Chances are a new build home will not need much work to get it up to standard, however, an older home that has been lived in for a longer period of time might need additional work, especially if you’re looking for top dollar. 

No one knows the market better than someone who lives and breathes real estate. Talking with a professional salesperson about your home is essential when it comes to getting it presentable, and hopefully in a multi-offer situation. Once a house becomes available for purchase it joins the long list of other houses vying for the attention of home buyers, so how is yours going to stand out? A real estate agent will likely know your competition and how you can get a foot up.

If you're selling an older home, perfect for a first home buyer, chances are you could leave some of the work to the new owners by positioning it at a lower price point. DIY homes require a lot of work but if you’re looking to increase the value of your home then doing some of this work before the sale may help you increase its appeal. Especially amongst buyers that don’t have the skills, time, or inclination to live in a project home. There’s a balance, the less work required the more someone might be willing to pay, the more work required the lower the asking price but also the pool of buyers might be smaller. You need to hit a sweet spot and a real estate agent can help you find it.

If a buyer is looking for a low maintenance new home, paint touch-ups, new carpet and even landscaping work can help increase the amount your home sells for, and the number of people attracted to your open home!

How to prepare for an open home


It's important that buyers can envision themselves living in a property, so remove anything too personal, like family photos and statement pieces of art. These items can go back up once the open home finishes but people want to envision themselves living in your home, not necessarily walking into a gallery of macaroni art.

Hide your valuables

Although it is not a common occurrence, we have heard of instances when personal items have gone missing during an open house. Open homes usually draw a large number of visitors, so agents are not able to supervise all attendees one on one. Jewellery, cheque books, passports, prescription drugs, cash, and any other valuables should be placed into a secure lockbox or removed from the home. While all real estate agents do their best to keep an eye on those viewing the home, this should not substitute for taking appropriate precautions.

Download our guide to hosting the perfect open home ›


The good old saying ‘less is more’ comes into play here. Keep the kitchen benches clear and remove the pile of coats and shoes kept by the front door. Also, remove excess furniture, ornaments and trinkets that make the place seem cluttered, you want your home to seem open and spacious. Chances are multiple people will be on your property at one time, and you don’t want them feeling confined in the space. 

Think about street appeal

First impressions count, and when it comes to selling your home, making sure that the street appeal is on point should be at the top of your list. Potential buyers have also been known to do drive-bys before an open home to check out the location and look around the neighbourhood, so making sure it is well presented prior to your open home should be taken into account. Ensuring the front of your property is tidy and well presented is a starting point but ensuring your letterbox isn’t overflowing and that your lawns are well maintained is key too. Make the place look its best with a fresh coat of paint on the front fence and a water blast on the front deck to remove any dirt or grime really helps. Eye-catching potted plants can be a cost-effective solution to add additional layers, these can also be taken with you when you move

Clean everything

If you’ve been putting off that spring clean, then now is the time to do it. Not only should you be wiping down walls and scrubbing bathrooms from top to bottom but organising the insides of your cupboards and wardrobes should be on your to-do list. Potential house hunters will be wanting to gauge storage space to see if it is sufficient, if everything is organised the buyer will also think you take very good care of the rest of the house too.

Staging your home

If your house is empty it can actually feel smaller than it is. By having sofas, tables and chairs in the right place people get a sense of scale and can see how a room might be laid out. The right staging company can help you bring your house to life and utilising their interior design knowledge can go a long way in making a home look its best. Your property can appear more modern with on-trend accessories, increasing the emotional appeal of the property in the eyes of buyers.

Open the home up

There is nothing more satisfying than a light and airy space. You can create an inviting atmosphere by turning on the lights in dark spots and opening doors, curtains, and blinds. In warm weather, open patio doors to the outdoors to maximise indoor-outdoor flow emphasising your outdoor area. This will help make the home feel bigger.

Fix what is broken

Showcasing your property’s potential and not the list of DIY they’ll be signing up for is a great way to increase offers. From patching up small holes to fixing door latches or replacing broken hinges. The little things can make such a difference. You know that DIY bridge you said you’d cross when it comes to it? Well, it needs crossing before the open home.

Spread the word

Top real estate agents tap their extensive networks to target buyers and get them into their clients' houses. Unless you are well-connected, getting the word out about your open house can be a challenge. Create a Facebook event, advertise where possible or list on TradeMe, anything you can do to raise awareness of the open home. If you’ve gone with a real estate agent, ask about their marketing package and how they’ll drum up interest in your open home.

Importance of a salesperson vendor relationship

Unless you choose to host the open home yourself, your relationship with the salesperson is just as important to get the best results possible. Finding a salesperson that you trust and listening to their experience and knowledge can be a relationship made in heaven. No one knows your property as well as you do, but accepting that you don’t understand the market as well as your salesperson, is just as important. We don’t know any record house sales done through private sales, do you? In fact, private sales generally sell for 15% less than a sale through a real estate agent.

As times have changed, so have people’s expectations and requirements from an open home. With COVID-19 we have also had to be mindful of changing government guidance, and people’s safety. An open home is an opportunity for your house to shine while handling dozens of potential buyers. If you would like to maximise your open home we recommend downloading our guide to preparing your house for an open home, no matter whether you’re listing with us, another agency or privately - it’s useful for all!

If you would like to talk to someone about the sale of your property, our team here at McDonald Real Estate are always willing to share their experience and knowledge so why not request a free property appraisal today. It’s the best way to see what your home could be worth in today’s market, and how to best position your home in front of the right buyers.

Download the free guide ›

Topics: Selling a house

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