Bottled water w/ labels, property brochures, community guides, sample listings of other similar properties (carefully distributed, as my first purpose for being there is to promote that property), CD's with Virtual Tours, agency disclosures explaining representation, balloons outside, balloons inside to give to kids.
I stay away from food or drinks other than water. My display board featured a county map, parks and recreation info, transporation schedules and pics for the ferry and train, a chart with mileage for frequently traveled routes (airport, NYC, etc.)
I do a walk through of the property to refresh my memory of the mechanical questions that may be posed throughout the day. i.e. location of electrical panel, amps, size of water heater, access to crawl, etc. Knowing these things on demand better promotes both the property. I make a quick round of minor tidying details, open the lights and a few closet doors.
If relevant, I include maps of the area - including walking/biking trails, nearby boat ramps, etc. I once had a house right in the midst of wine country - so I had an entire feature on wine-making, including the tour of wineries.
People are often looking to buy a lifestyle. My duty to my sellers is to provide every incentive to prospective buyers to choose their house for purchase.
What a great way to pick the brains of other agents-Great Question! Along with all of the information on the house I am having open, I like to bring a list of comparable homes in the surrounding areas. I print off everything currently for sale within the same price range. I then put these into packet form with a cover letter explaining exclusive buyers agency and how I can help them find their next home. As much as I would like to sell my listing at open house, in my market, those odds are quite slim so I try to take advantage of the ready buyers coming through the doors. Almost all buyers love the packets and it's a great conversation starter as you can talk about the other homes on the market. The other mentioned ideas are great too. Lots of lights on, SOFT classical music, and of course to know everything you possibly can about the home you are having open. Best of Luck.
I also have Buyers and Sellers guides for prospective buyers and sellers. Also, some give aways and maybe fill outs for a drawing.
Some of the materials I bring include: a tri-fold flyer on the home with multiple photos, a business card sized flyer, the sellers disclosure statement, a list of active similar homes in similar style neighborhoods along with my laptop do provide searches beyond this criteria, a copy of an offer form to show its not so scary, and I use directionalâ€™s on major routes to direct traffic into the property along with balloons. I too play soft music and create a little ambiance with candles as well as displaying a relationship disclosure explaining in this instance, I am representing the seller.
But the most important thing Steve does is bring a blown up contingency of purchase contract, since so many have never seen one and we explain what it all means. We also bring a 1/4 mi radius search printout for all the properties surrounding the open house, which people seem to enjoy. Of course, depending on what it says, neighbors usually find this the most curious. We are targeting move-up buyers and first timers.