By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, October 2, 2010–The Sunday real estate open house is a longstanding ritual in the real estate marketplace, and many homes have been sold on a lazy Sunday afternoon. When used properly, open houses can be a great marketing strategy.

According to the experts at, the following steps will help you get the most out of your real estate open house and increase your chances of selling your home for the price you want.

-Be sure to meet with your agent in advance of the open house. Discuss all the various details about what is involved in holding a successful open house. While many home sellers are comfortable with an open house, others are not. If you choose not to host an open house, there are other ways to sell your home.
-Be certain to go through the entire home with the real estate agent the day before the open house. Take careful notes and follow all of his/her recommendations.
-Try not to become emotionally involved when evaluating the condition of your home prior to the open house. Remember that your real estate agent is trying to make your home more appealing to potential buyers, not criticizing your decorating style or choice of accessories.
-Any needed home repairs should be completed before the open house begins. This includes things like peeling paint, loose stairs, banisters in need of repair and the like. It is crucial that guests see a home that is in immaculate condition.
-Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression. Many visitors make a decision about the home in the first few seconds. Be sure the entranceway to the home is immaculate, and that the steps leading up to the home are well swept and free of debris.
-Ask the real estate agent to create a professional-looking sign in sheet for all visitors. It is important to get the name and phone number of all attendees to the open house.
-Always discuss the price of the home prior to the open house. This will allow the agent to negotiate the price on the spot if a good prospect attends.
-Be sure to consider unusual ways to market your open house. For instance, if you belong to any special groups or organizations, be sure to market the upcoming open house to the members. For instance, the local garden club may be very interested in attending an open house that includes a beautiful outdoor garden.
-It is a good idea to provide cookies, brownies or other snacks for guests at the open house. A punch bowl is also an attractive addition.
-Pets should be kept away from open house visitors. It may be a good idea to have a friend or family member takes care of your pets until the open house is over.
-Be sure to lock up all medications, both prescription and non-prescription. Also be sure to lock up any cash or valuables in the home prior to the open house.
-Make sure that the home is spotless and free of unpleasant odors prior to the open house. You may want to bake a fresh batch of cookies an hour or two before the open house begins. Not only will the aroma mask any unpleasant smells, but it will create a warm and inviting ambiance as well.
-Be sure the temperature in the home is pleasant. A home that is too hot or too cold can make visitors uncomfortable, and lead them to wonder about the quality of the heating and air conditioning system.
-Play soft music in the background during the open house. Background music helps set a good mood for visitors.
-Always open the curtains and the drapes prior to the open house. This will allow fresh air and sunshine in and help give the impression of a larger space.
-If your home does not have plants, you may want to buy a few before the open house. Plants can provide a warm feel and help make guests at the open house feel more at home.

Following the guidelines outlined above, chances are your public open house will be a big success. Even if the home is not sold at the open house, the prospect contacts gained and the word of mouth exposure may well result in a sale.