Open House Rules for Agents

The Open House is a wonderful opportunity for agents to build their business…but it’s not all fun and games ok?

As we’ll cover below, agents need a clear understanding of the Open House rules. Some of these topics are common sense but others may surprise you so take a good look to make sure you’re not taking unnecessary risks in your Open House prospecting.

Open House Rules for Agents

Here are the most important Open House rules that agents should follow.

  1. Safety first: Ensure the Open House is safe for both yourself and visitors.
  2. Sell the house youre in: Focus on generating interest and inquiries for the property you are showcasing even if you are aiming to convert some visitors to buyer prospects.
  3. Respect representation: Don’t pressure visitors to utilize your services as a buyers agent if they already have an agent.
  4. Keep it legal: There are rules when it comes to advertising an Open House and, depending on your state, there are disclosures and documents that you may need to present visitors.
  5. Follow the signage ordinances: Depending on your location, there are different sign ordinances to follow. Failure to follow these rules, can result in sign confiscation or fines.
  6. Honor thy listing agent: When hosting an Open House on behalf of another agent, establish clear agreements on how visitor information will be handled to avoid misunderstandings or disputes.
  7. Remember its an “Open” House: Don’t run the risk of angering visitors by appearing to snub them during an Open House.
  8. Clean up afterwards: Out of respect for the seller, make sure to leave the property in (at least) as good condition as it was before the Open House.

Safety First

Creating a safe and secure environment at an Open House is critical above all else. It is the agent’s responsibility to look after their own safety, as well as, anticipate and address any potential safety issues for visitors AND also protect the personal property of the seller.

Some tips for your personal safety:

  • Always let someone know where you are and how you can be reached. Schedule periodic check-ins with that person so they know everything is ok
  • Whenever possible, host the Open House with an associate like another agent or business partner
  • Use a digital sign-in with text notifications so your A) capturing visitors info B) and confirming they are providing their accurate phone number by using a text follow up aka text confirmation (Curb Hero does both and it’s free)
Curb Hero Demo + Tutorial
Hosted by  Ajay Pondicherry
In this interactive session we will show you how to use Curb Hero’s FREE digital sign-in to save time, capture better data, and look amazing at your next Open House.

Also part of maintaining a safe environment is, safeguarding the property owner’s belongings and removing anything that could create a safety or theft concern. That includes removing the following before the Open House:

  • prescription medication
  • jewelry and valuables
  • personal documents including credit card receipts
  • make sure any potentially aggressive pets are off premises or safely boarded

Here’s an NAR video on Safety Tips – the video starts on the section specific to Open House safety:

When it comes to safety, it is always better to be proactive than reactive…but having a first aid kit at the Open House is important just in case something does come up.

By placing safety first, agents not only protect all involved but also foster trust from both sellers and any buyer prospects, thereby increasing chances for better relationships and more transactions. After all, reassurance and security are what prospective homeowners are ultimately looking for.

Sell the House You’re In

When conducting an Open House, the first sales priority is the property you’re currently showcasing.

Yes, we all know there’s a high chance prospective buyers might end up falling for another property altogether in the future.

We have lots of Open House scripts to get a sense of a visitors interest in the property too so you don’t get tongue tied when it’s time to get direct feedback.

So while it’s true that Open Houses are great sources of buyer leads, but don’t let engaging with buyers take precedent over making a successful outcome for the seller client.

Respect Representation

Here’s where some agents get lured to the dark side. A great buyer walks into a property where you’re hosting an Open House for another agent. You develop instant rapport and find out they are qualified and interested in properties in your local market…but you find out they already have an agent.

Don’t let the pointy eared fellow on your shoulder convince you to go after that buyer and start showing them homes.

Open House Rules for Agents when buyer is represented

Disregarding or undermining a buyer’s agent’s participation not only spells lack of professionalism but can also result in long-term reputation damage in your market.

When it comes to advertising and holding an Open House there are a number of legal requirements that come into play.

At a federal level, The Fair Housing Act is the federal law that forbids a variety of discriminatory practices in the advertising of housing which includes Open House advertising.

Then, depending on your state, county, or municipality, there are more specific rules to follow – there are too many to cover here but we’ll highlight a few here:

  • Many states (including California, New York, Georgia) have specific guidelines to prevent discriminatory real estate advertisements both in verbiage and in advertising placement.
  • New York State requires the agent shares a Fair Housing Disclosure and agency disclosure form at “first substantive contact” which many brokers interpret to be as soon as a visitor enters the property at an Open House
  • During the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were new disclosures that agents needed to collect for contact tracing.

No matter how effective your clever Open House marketing is, stay clear of violating these rules…unless you look forward to heated phone calls with your broker’s legal eagles. By adhering to these Open House rules for agents, you can prevent getting into regulatory hot water.

Follow the Signage Ordinances and Avoid Sign-related Turf Wars

Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Whodathunk that posting your Open House signs far and wide could be a violation?

Well, sadly, it is. So, while we recommend posting LOTS of signs (it’s the #1 idea in our Open House Tips), don’t run afoul of your local sign ordinances.

Open House rules around sign usage can cover a lot of requirements:

  • where you can post signs
  • when you can post signs
  • the number of signs permissible
  • restrictions on sign sizes

And it’s not uncommon for private communities and/or homeowners associations to have even stricter guidelines (over and above the county ordinances) to preserve aesthetic or safety standards.

Violating these ordinances, even unintentionally, can lead to confiscation of signs and even fines.

Plus, agents that habitually violate these rules can develop a negative reputation in the local real estate community. Which can sometimes can being forms of “street justice” where other agents can steal/vandalize the signs of agents that aren’t following the rules. It ain’t pretty but it happens.

To that end, don’t get aggressive when it comes to placing your signs in front of other real estate agents signs. It’s not worth it to get a few more random eyeballs. Instead, just post a few more signs to achieve the same result with out the drama.

Honor thy Listing Agent

When you’re hosting an Open House at another agent’s listing, you’re an extension of their brand and therefore they’ve put their trust in you. This means a few things:

  • You’ll respect their seller and the property
  • You’ll conduct a professional Open House
  • When marketing the Open House, you’ll adhere to required disclaimers about the listing agent/brokerage
  • You’ll follow the discussed agreement when it comes to sharing visitor data

Especially on this last point, when it comes to the lead data, it’s important to agree how the leads are being shared afterwards. There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to Open House data but here two common models:

  • The agent hosting the Open House gets all unrepresented buyer leads and the listing agent only gets the info for the represented buyers
  • The listing agent gets all a list of all visitors but knows that that the agent hosting the Open House will be reaching out to the unrepresented buyers

Establishing clear agreements on how visitor information will be handled can eliminate future misunderstandings and keeps professional lines clear.

Remember it’s an “Open” House

Yes we’re being literal here. Remember, every visitor interaction has an impact on your brand and business. So whether it’s a buyer, a fellow agent, or a nosey neighborhood, each individual is an opportunity.

So make the Open House inviting to all visitors (while maintaining safety of course) and provide consistent levels of service and engagement.

Open House Advertising Guidelines

Challenging buyer interactions may come up but keep your communication polite and solutions-oriented.

Given the prevalence of social media, any perceived rude behavior by agents at an Open House can go viral which can be detrimental to your long term brand, even if a situation is being misrepresented or taken completely out of context.

By adopting an “open” attitude, not just an “open” house, you will leave more visitors with a positive impression, strengthen your professional reputation and increase opportunities for new clients and referrals. At a minimum, it’ll keep you off of TMZ’s hall of shame.

Clean up afterwards

Sellers generally don’t love the idea of a bunch of strangers roaming their home. Not only does it feel like an invasion of privacy but there’s also the possibility that they’ll come home to a mess.

Don’t let your sellers fears come true. Instead leave the property exactly as you found it (or better even!).

When it comes to cleanup after an open house, the onus is on the agents to ensure everything is returned to its original state. This includes setting right any furniture that might have been moved, disposal of any waste materials, and making sure that no sign of the gathering is left behind. Proper execution of these Open House rules for agents can significantly underscore your commitment to the homeowner’s care and respect for their property.

These guidelines should become standard practice for agents in every Open House they hold. Once these basic rules are followed, it allows for agents to focus on the other facets of holding a successful Open House which we cover in our massive Open House ideas post.

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