Home Selling in 18951>Question Details

William, Home Seller in 18951

Open House Refreshments

Asked by William, 18951 Fri Sep 14, 2007

What fun or creative ideas have you done for Open House refreshments? What are some "safe" and practical refreshment ideas for open houses?

We're in the Philly suburbs - last time we did a soft pretzel tray (pretzel baker is right down the street.)

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I don't always offer refreshments, but if it's really cold out, a water filled coffee pot with packets of hot chocolate work. I do the 'making' so the powdered chocolate doesn't get all over the place.

And I agree with all the comments about not wanting people trapsing food all over the house. On that note however, since I feel comfortable asking them to take their shoes off when it's required, I am comfortable saying 'after you have toured the home, come back into the kitchen and get some hot chocolate and then we can talk about the house.' Or variations thereof LOL
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2007
I was talking about public opens but answers about brokers opens certainly welcome! When we did our brokers open we sent the full menu in the invitation. I guess we did a decent job - all the realtors who came were suprised at how many folks showed up...
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 15, 2007
Since I am showing my client's house, i try not to provide messy refreshments, such as brownies, sandwiches; if so, I would ask them to either stay in the kitchen to finish it up or wrap them nicely in napkins to take it with them.

Cold water with personalized labels, and yes, Costco comes to rescue, bags of gold fish and mixed nuts with your business card attached work well too. It's a long afternoon in and out of houses and cars, the little snack is appreciated, especially people with young kids.

3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
When selling rural property (horsey property), I advertized the home and invited buyers to come out for BBQ hot dogs, beer, soda and all the trimmings and it worked terrific in the sellers market. Loads of neighbors came for the BBQ.

I wouldn't try it in the current market. Not enough takers and few visitors. You might find yourself $200.00 poorer, COSTCO $200,00 richer, 10 pounds heavier and half lit.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
During the hot southern months I just had plenty of ice cold water... this went over so well - because the people were hot!

There was a couple that put fresh baked cookies out - but there were very few takers.

I like to have small goody bags (filled with my marketing paraphenelia) as a hand out - it's cute with a ribbon in my agency colors - and full of notepads, potpourri, etc... It looks cute & they are taking my info with them! No candy - but sweet nonetheless!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
Where I am we go all out with open houses. Boy oh boy, if all I had was water to serve no one would come to my open houses. We have agents that make homemade pizza, homemade soups, homemade chili, bring in cheese platters from trendy places.... We have contests for agents where they guess the price of the house sells for (which also helps in getting price opinions).
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
With our experiences, we have had higher success with food and drink products that were prepackaged and sealed or nobody tends to take the stuff. Cold ice water bottles is the biggest "taker" for us with our own personalized labels and property address. Cookies hit and miss get eaten. Our goldfish crackers pre-packaged are strangely enjoyed too which I was not expecting.

Ed-too funny and so true. "Hey honey I have all of these cookies nobody ate." Me: "Get them OUT of here!"
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
Steve Ostrom, Real Estate Pro in Roseville, CA
Dear Mack--Can I send you a case of Yuengling for your next open house?

Erica Ramus -- broker in Pottsville, PA... home of Yuengling!!!!

PS--I rarely do open houses and don't serve food at public opens. Broker opens, yes I do bribe the other agents by feeding them.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Talk about an old thread being revived! I guess the answers to this question are endless and timeless!

I was reflecting,and thought back to something I did a number of years ago.

My seller didn't want me to serve any food for the broker open, so I decided to come up with another idea - Lottery tickets!

On a good day, we used to get 50-70 agents for an open house...so I went out and bought 50 !. $1.00 tickets..... and decided to give them out to the first 50 agents who stopped by.

Once I got home, I started thinking (dangerous for me to do!), and I thought.............geesh - what if one of those tickets is a winner? I will shoot myself to think I just gave away a winning lottery ticket................so............I marched back to the convenience store, a bought 50 additonal tickets with the same numbers on them for myself - that way, any winning ticket person would have ME as their partner!

No winner, of course, and it cost me a total of $100!
Lunch would have been cheaper!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 30, 2010
Hi William, here is another idea that is catching on here in NJ - I've seen it used at Broker's Open Houses but would also be a great idea for a Pubic Open House - GAS CARD drawing! At a Public Open House it could be a great draw PLUS offer a reward for providing complete contact information so you can follow up with your guests after.

I'm liking this idea so much I'm going to use it for my next Public Open House!

Thanks for starting this thread - some good ideas here.

Jeannie Feenick
Weichert Realtors
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 5, 2008
As a buyer, hot or cold (based on weather) refreshments that come from a sealed container. I prefer cold bottled water or the packets of coco/tea and a pot of hot water. I don't mind being asked to stay off the carpet with them, but if I can sip my water as I walk I will stay longer and since I shop with my wife we'll discuss the house more if we aren't parched. We often visit several houses in a row and in the summer water makes a huge difference on how we wander the house. Hard candies are a good one for the relief from that parched feeling, plus they are individually wrapped, cheap, and the instant sugar always makes me feel better.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
I like your idea! When in Rome, do as the romans. I like to go with the seasons. Summertime, I bring out thr lemonade and fresh strawberries. Halloween, brings apple cider and cookies. But , no matter what I do, most people are really interested in the house, and not the refreshments. So, don't sweat the small stuff!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 12, 2008
What has been working quite interesting is playing CD Album with original compositions
I am not trying to be in frontline to say about my CD , but recently a realtor whom just bought my CD played the Album throughtout her open house. She noticed people were not in a hurry to leave. Instead they stayed in the house until the songs were over.
The realtor said it gave her a chance to chat further with the visitors and got to know them better as her qualified clients.
In case you are curious the CD Album is called : Supernal Sky at the link below .
Hi my name is Firooz , and I am the composer of this CD .
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 5, 2008

I would be careful w/refreshments. Do u really want people spilling food all over your house? If you have multiple guests at one time, it sometimes becomes difficult to keep them contained. I have had to chase people around the house explaining that they cannot be unescorted. It can get sticky.

If you are looking for a way to attract people, I find lottery tickets work like a charm! Put your address on the back of the ticket and ask them to contact you if they win!

Frances "Francesca" Patrizio, Weichert Realtor
NJAR Circle of Excellence 2006 . . .
Weichert Million Dollar Sales & Market Club 2006, 2007
Weichert Million Dollar Marketed Club 2006, 2007
Weichert Brielle OVERALL Top Producer 2006 . . .
732.606.2931 (Direct)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2007
I know your original question was refreshments... I tend to lean also on the side that closed refreshments are better .... to be completly honest I never have refreshments @ open houses ... The norm is a great catered lunch for a broker/ realtor tour.

I haven't done this yet but it worked well for another women at our office, she bought boxes of popcorn and slapped a label on each individually wrapped pack ...... with her contact info and a quick not that simply said " thanks for popping in" :)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
All sound goods to me!!! You can have a give away.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
In the summer weather.....cold water works well and in the winter warm cider is quite warming. Fresh baked cookies are always a great treat. Sometimes I will have an apple pie baking in the oven just for the aroma.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in Danville, VA
I like to bake cookies at my open houses. I use the Nestle chocolate chip cookies in the package in the refrigerator section. They are always appreciated. I also put out bottled water and an assortment of pre-packaged chips (in case they don't like cookies!).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 23, 2016
Would suggest individually wrapped snacks. This way - no prep, no contamination, easy cleanup, Can go to various Dollar Stores and find a myriad of wrapped items. Offer several.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 12, 2012
I serve food at Brokers open house but not at public open house because kids can make a mess if you serve cookies and you will have crumbs all over. It happened to me once.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 4, 2010
Ah... I like to serve food. At the very least, home made style cookies and always have bottled water. Noticed I put style because if I am too busy I will buy them but I will buy them... but good ones(wink). So Dan... if you are hungry you can always come to my open house (grinning). Unfortunately, you will end up being on a diet because I have not had an OH since July cuz I have been a bit too busy. Maybe in the next month or two.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Dan........not to worry ......... I will email you a sandwich!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
I feel shut out now. Just because I am not a professional hungry realtor I do not get food. <cries>

Actually, I think offering food at open houses would lead to more issues than good outcomes. I always wondered if free food at any business really made or cost profits. I would imagine the only safe way is to give the free food outside the house. It has to stay clean. Once someone spills soda on the floor it will be sticky the rest of the day.

I know some people who went to sam's club almost every day at lunch time to get the free samples and cut down on their food bill.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Actually, Dan - to Debbie & I, as our invited guest, you'd get a Mirror Pond! Although, I don't really know what Debbie serves out there in Joysie. Yuengling, maybe?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Dan, sorry, but I don't feed the public, either! I was referring to Broker open houses.

Maybe I'll offer cookies or a box of candy.......but no lunch for a public OH..............you have to be an agent to get lunch from me!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Sorry, Dan - absolutely no food or drink to the General Public - at least until they've seen the house and are on their way out the door. Few things mess up a sales situation more than spilling soda on the sofa!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Debbie, "And, food does bring them in - Other agents and I been guilty of stopping by because it was lunch time and we were hungry!."

That looks like I am not the only one who thought of going to an open house (or whatever) just to get free food.

I am not sure that really means it helps get buyers, or just more hungry people. I would find it interesting to see the stats on open houses with food that had sales verses open houses without food that had sales.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Seems as though this discussion is running in 2 directions - broker open houses, and public ones.

Interesting to see how broker open houses are treated, or what the attendance is, in other parts of the country.

Attendance can vary in my area from town to town, but generally there is a fairly good attendace.. Very often, the broker open is the "kick off" for showings, as many agents first begin showings then.
Agents in my area, for the most part, wouldn't think of listing a home, and not scheduling a broker open.......serving food isn't done by all agents, but not unusual, either.

And, yes,I have had agents reach for their cell phones to call an client while still in the house.........sometimes the client winds up being the buyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Erica, absolutely. I am a firm believer in having a public open the very first weekend a home is on the market, because I've found that if it's priced right and there's early interest, those people will want to bring their families and friends through, which better prepares them for acting quickly.

And, public opens are certainly the absolute best way for agents to meet buyers.

But I have never ever ever sold a house through an agent who came to a Broker's open and ran off and told a buyer. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but here in the NWMLS, it seems that agents who have buyers aren't waiting for Mack to serve donuts and coffee; they're running out and using their trusty Supra keypad!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Broker opens are not very successful in my area at all. I do serve light food and drinks, but I have only seen 2 broker opens advertised in our system in the past year.

As for Mack, no open houses don't seem to sell houses. But the agent sitting in them might find a buyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Mack - I only serve food (lunch) at broker open houses....I figure if I attract even 5 more agents because I am feeding them, that's 5 more little soldier ants that can go back to the office and report in as to what they saw. And, food does bring them in - Other agents and I been guilty of stopping by because it was lunch time and we were hungry!. I have seen a few homes over the years that I might never have seen.........I didn't sell them, but I did tell another agent in my office how great one house was...she ultimately sold it.

I also run my open houses later than most of the others...giving agents a chance to see mine after the other opens close down........and a chance to grab a bite.

As the saying goes.....it might not help,. but it can't hurt.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
With all of these gimmicks . . . anybody get the house sold as a result?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 31, 2010
Broker opens or public opens?

If it's a broker open I will do light treats and drinks. But public open--no food.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 30, 2010
The whole point of an open house is that you want to people to linger and get to know the house. Good conversation, good smelling treats and a welcoming atmosphere is what you are after. There's nothing worse than walking into an open house and feeling like you are intruding. Soft music is helpful and sometimes even having the television on is OK if the programming reflects the feel of the house. What kind of image are you trying to project? Is it casual, sporty, kid-friendly;or sophisticated elegance, no shoes inside, etc.

You can support these images with the types of food you are serving. Water is okay, but typical plastic bottled water is boring. If you choose to stick with water, invest in some "gourmet" brands of water in some very cool bottles. Visit Cost Plus and look over their varieties of imported waters - it's really fun. People will remember you when you do your follow up calls.

Gatorade is always a hit to give out as people are LEAVING (It gives a "higher perceived value" than water). An assortment of high quality FRESH bagels with different types of cream cheeses are not messy. Serve these along with some attractively arranged green and red grapes. For a morning open house, you can provide small containers of yogurt.

If I do serve cookies, I've found that hands down, Trader Joe's Oatmeal Dipping Cookies drizzled with White Chocolate are everyone's favorites. They disappear quickly and people keep coming back for more.

I once gave an open house that featured a Greek menu of gourmet spreads with pita breads. We had one spread that included caviar. We also did an Italian menu of spreads (including a creamy artichoke spread) with rustic Italian breads and sides of bite sized cheeses. We served Italian sodas with this. A little goes a long way to help make your open house memorable.

This isn't to say that you should not advertise giveaways such as gift cards. Those certainly work to bring people in. My husband just attended an Open House and won a bag of organic groceries from Whole Foods packaged in a reusable shopping bag (valued at $100). Whole Foods did cooperative advertising with the event planner.

If you are short on ideas, hire a marketing professional or event planner. It's worth the investment considering the return you will get when the house is sold.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 30, 2010
We put wrapped chocolates in little Chinese takeout boxes we got from Michael's Craft store. On one side of the box we glued a picture of our house with "Thanks for visiting! under it. On the other side of the box we attached a sticker with the MLS#.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 23, 2009
I did the gas card thing last spring. got a lot of visitors but none serious. i like the idea of bottled water but i would never serve refreshments at a public open house. Yes,we do serve food at the weekly Broker's open houses. I would be too afraid of people coming in with kids who would make a mess with food. i used to be listing agent for a construction company in a particular subdivision. We always kept a bowl of candy on the kitchen counter. keep in mind that this was the model home which had been professionally decorated and was fully furnished. Another agent came in to deliver a contract and brought a toddler grandchild. one of her first actions was to reach into the candy bowl and hand the little one a Reese's peanut butter cup. i almost had a heart attack worrying for the safety of the fabrics & furniture!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 21, 2009
During the summer months it is always a good idea to have bottled water. No one has turned down an offer for water so far.
Web Reference: http://www.gitabantwal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 21, 2009
There's nothing better than fresh baked cookies to get their attention....cookies and milk and a home that smells homey and inviting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 26, 2008
I'm not sure refreshments are a good idea at an open house. I have some other thoughts about how to maximize the effectiveness in a blog post that I published, "13 Steps to a Successful Open House."
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 26, 2008
GREAT question and the responces are very insightful.

The "Eckler Team"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 5, 2008
Here on the Bradbury Team at Coldwell Banker Heritage, we do open houses on most sunday afternoons. We do not do them on Holidays, like Christmas, Mothers Day, Super Bowl Sunday, etc.
It is good to always have a nice center piece on the table. Fresh Flowers are ideal. Fresh baked cookies are also an excellent idea. We always bake them during the open house, to add a friendly and welcoming smell in the home. If I feel lucky, and feel that I will sell the house that day, I bake an apple pie.
We get much more creative for Broker's Open Houses , which are usually held on Tuesday afternoons at lunch for local realtors. Don Bradbury 215-536-6777 x 329 http://www.bradburyteam.com
Web Reference: http://www.bradburyteam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
I have never offered refreshments unless it is the very first open house or their will be other open houses in the area that day and it is going to be a big event. I do however pass out other things such as pens for the adults and baloons for the children.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 24, 2008
I usually do not provide refreshments. It is very common in this area to provide drawings.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 24, 2008
Ruthless - ha, I know that trick (we have 2 children and play "find that smell" in the suv on a regular basis.)

I love the lottery ticket idea Francesca!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2007
By the way, I was joking about the milk. William had a promo in another question with a cow theme.

In college, I had a drunk friend try to sober up by drinking milk. He was sitting in a low chair and set the glass on the carpet as he passed out. The glass tipped over and spilled behind the chair. When he woke up, he didn't realize he had not drank the milk. He took the glass and left. It was a hot day. When I came back from classes that day, the milk had soured. The story only gets worst but you get the idea.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 23, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
Milk to go with your cow theme.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
I erroneously assumed the question was about broker opens. I hate public opens. I usually sit for 2 hours doing paperwork. We really don't get a good turnout. We're in a tourist area. Pumpkin pickers don't usually buy a house on impulse. :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 14, 2007
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