A lot of sellers will stress over their open house -- it's the major showcase event in the selling process, and you want to kick off with a bang. But who says you can't have fun, raise money for charity, or build ties with local businesses, too?
If you want your home to really stand out (and attract a lot of prospective customers), a little creativity goes a long way. Check out these fun ideas for events that just happen to simultaneously show off your "for sale" sign.
Call it a charity event
Consider using your open house to promote a local, noncontroversial, and worthwhile charity (think animals).
"Commit to donating a specific dollar amount (i.e., $10 for everyone who comes through the open house -- $5 from you and $5 from the affiliate), which will go to your chosen cause," suggests Robin Leigh, founder and CEO of the Certified Charitable Giving Alliance.
Include printed details about the charity along with the property information, but don't solicit donations from visitors -- this is supposed to be a fun way to get people into your home, not a pressure situation! Do, however, get email addresses from people who attend so you can let them know the final total raised.
Host a pop-up shop
Shopping while house shopping. What could be better? This idea is a total win because it puts prospective buyers in an acquisitive mood, while allowing you to fund your open house. Try enlisting your favorite shops and boutiques -- home decor, of course, or clothing, or kids' toys -- to take over rooms in your house.
"A shop in each room encourages guests to explore the property and helps you illustrate the type of listing and buyer you're courting," says real estate publicist Alexander Ali, founder of The Society Group. "It's very interactive. Have the shops agree to give 10% of sales to help fund the event costs while giving guests a discount on items."
Partner with a local cafe
Build some buzz around your property with a jolt of caffeine.
"We like to establish a local presence, and coffee is our foundation," says real estate broker F. Ron Smith, co-founder of The Partners Trust, which has paired up with Caffe Luxxe for events in the Los Angeles area. "They will co-brand with us for a Sunday open house for the public. We promote them in our advertising, and they promote the event with a small billboard we create in each of their three locations."
Not into coffee? You can apply the same principle to other local vendors and get them to donate food or drinks in exchange for your presenting their products.
Stage a design trend party
The basic idea here is that you have an educational event where attendees learn about new trends and your space gets shown off at the same time.
"I have done this type of open house before in homes I've already staged, where I will show seven to 10 different items trending in the home decor world and how to use them," says Tori Toth, a home stager and author of " Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell."
"There is usually a good turnout, because everyone always wants to know how to refresh their space. In general, you can probably get the stager to do such a presentation for free to promote themselves and all you have to do is supply drinks/snacks and maybe some folding chairs."
Stage a furniture sale
Why go on Craigslist if you can visit one place that has lots of affordable furnishings you can actually purchase (and the house is for sale, too)? This open house idea comes from OfferUp, a local mobile marketplace app for buyers and sellers that makes it easy for users to find items they want from people in their neighborhood, or quickly put an item up for sale with their smartphone.
Staged homes or apartments generally sell better, but staging can be expensive. Sellers on a budget might consider furnishing their open house with pieces bought on OfferUp; sellers can offload these pieces through the app once they've served their purpose. Also, if someone is selling a lot of nice furniture on OfferUp, see if she'd be willing to put them in your open house. This allows visitors at the open house to shop for furniture in a safe environment -- and if they end up buying your home, they won't even have to move the furniture! It's a win-win.
Make it a moving symposium
Home buyers have a lot of logistical things to consider on top of finding a new space. So why not offer them information they can use during their moving journey?
"A real estate transaction requires a lot of people: lawyers, mortgage bankers, movers, furniture stores, storage centers, etc. Ask around who is the best [for their service] in town, and try to partner with those people," says John Paul Engel, a former Manhattan luxury real estate broker and current lecturer on entrepreneurship at the University of Iowa.
Engel suggests getting the companies to contribute to refreshments in exchange for your marketing their services at your open house. This type of open house can be advertised as a sort of full-service relocation function, because the best thing you can do is make a move seem possible for prospective buyers -- with your helping them every step of the way.