How To Hold Your Own Open House – and What To Do When You Get An Offer

Selling your house for sale by owner is easy!

It really is!  We sold our house for sale by owner and less than 24 hours, and received two offers.

If haven’t already read it, check out my posts on how to sell your house fast and Part 1 of this post on listing your home.  Once you have read both of those, pop back over to this page and continue reading.  These posts tell you exactly what we did to get our home sold so fast.

But remember, this is not intended to be professional real estate or legal advice.  I cannot guarantee that you will sell your house quickly, or even at all.  But I will give you all the tips I have learned!

Why Should You Hold an Open House?

There are a lot of good reasons to hold one.  First of all, it save you from potentially having to clean your house and arrange multiple showings that could all be accomplished at the same time.  Second, if your open house is well attended, it may help you get an offer quicker.  If buyers see a lot of people at the open house, they may feel more pressure to make an offer quickly, before someone else does.  Third, according to Listing Door, a home that has an open house during the first week that it is listed is 13 percent more likely to sell.

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So let’s get to it.

After you have done all of your prep work and listed your home, its time to start showing your home.  We did not want to show our home repeatedly if we did not have to.  I have three little ones, and cleaning my house multiple times to show it was something I wanted to avoid (though it was much easier than usual since I had gotten rid of so much stuff, and taken the rest to storage).  So instead, we decided to hold an open house on the first weekend we were listed.  Here is how we did it.

Schedule an open house.

You can list your open house on Zillow, and Zillow will include your home when people search for open houses that weekend.

Also, put a sign in your yard to let everyone who drives by know that you have an open house that weekend.

On Open House Day…

Make sure the house is sparkly clean.  Every bit of it.

Put balloons on your open house sign.  Put open house directional signs up on adjacent streets to direct traffic to your house.

Put fresh flowers on the table and in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Make sure you do not cook a smelly breakfast.  You do not want any lingering odors in the house.

Bake cookies in the morning (if you are a good baker) and leave them on the counter for people to take.  Purchased water bottles and have some of those out for people as well.

Print information pages about the home and leave them on the counter for people to take.

Many people will suggest you have a sign in sheet.  I did not do this, because I knew I was not going to call people after they left my home.

What to do and what not to do during your open house.

If you have a storm door, leave the front door open so people feel comfortable coming in.

Dress nicely.  Wear shoes.  Today, this is not your house.

Have a neighbor take your pets during the open house.  And your kids.

Greet people at the door if possible.  Smile, extend a hand for a firm handshake, and introduce yourself.

Ask the potential buyer if they would like you to take them around, or if they would feel more comfortable going through on their own.  Respect their choice.

Let them know, casually, that they are free to look through the home how they like.  Since you are the owner of them home, many potential buyers may feel awkward.  I used a intro like this.

“Hi there!  I’m Lauren.  Thanks so much for coming by today.  I’d love to show you around the house, or if you would prefer it, you are welcome to go through the house on your own.  Feel free to look through the whole house and to open any doors you’d like.”

If the person chose to look through on their own, I would catch up with them after several minutes and ask if they had any questions.  At our open house, we had over 50 people through in two hours, so it was impossible to walk everyone through.  This worked in our favor though, as it created more of a buzz about the house.

When asked a question or when talking about the house, be excited.  Talk about potential of the house (a huge unfinished basement) or the things you really loved (the amazing neighborhood).  Do not talk about thing that you did not like about the house, the things you had to fix to sell the house, or how you got a insurance check to replace the roof.  Be honest, of course, but be brief and do not give away more information than necessary.

When someone is leaving, thank them again for coming by and ask them to please be in touch if they have any questions.

Time to sit back and let the offers roll in!


With a lot of preparation and a little luck, we received two offers within an hours of the open house ending.

What do you do when you receive an offer?

One of the scariest parts of listing your house FSBO is the contract work.  You can hire an attorney to help you, and if you are at all nervous about this, you may want to do so.  We ended up doing it all ourselves, and it worked out just fine.  An offer on the house is always done on the same form, and with pretty general information.  If you have bought a house, you should be somewhat familiar with this form.  In addition, their realtor is the one who does this paper work.  They fill it all out, bring it to you or send it by email, and then you have a predetermined amount of time to reply.  It will tell you on the form how long the offer is valid for, so make sure you are paying attention to that.

If you have not done your disclosures form, they will ask for that.  The realtor that our buyers worked with sent us the form and we filled it out, including EVERY single bit of pertinent information we knew.  We also forwarded over the disclosures form we received from the owners when we had bought the house.  We wanted to make sure that they had all the information about the house, and that there were as few surprises as possible when the inspection was done.

Remember, be honest, and include everything.  This ensures that you do not get sued later, or that the deal falls through because you did not disclose something.

If you accept the offer, you will need to check the accept box and sign.  You can also decline it this way.  Last, you can counter offer with a different price or a different agreement about what is included, etc.

About that buyer’s realtor’s commission…

This is an area where you can negotiate.  If you only want to pay a 2% commission, you can counter with that.  If you are only willing to pay $1000 dollars commission, you can counter with that.  We countered with 2.5% commission, as we wanted to make sure that the realtor received what we considered to be a fair wage, and we knew that we would be somewhat reliant on him to make sure everything was done correctly and on schedule.  Remember, the buyer’s realtor is working for the buyer, but you are paying them.  They are legally required to be for the buyer, and typically they want the sale to go through.  Be respectful and professional in your communications with the realtor, because a positive relationship is beneficial for everyone.

I am going to cease my advice on the contract stuff here, as I am not an attorney!

Next steps.

If you have come to a signed agreement, the buyer’s real estate agent will handle most of the next steps.  Check your signed offer though to make sure there is nothing you need to do (like schedule a pest inspection or something).  Be sure to check it frequently too, as the next steps come in stages.   Know who schedules the pest inspectors, the house inspector, the appraiser, etc. and pay attention to the timeline of things.  Most contracts specify that certain steps have to be done in 15 or 30 days of a signed offer.  You do not want to be late on anything, as this can void the contract.

Again, if you are not comfortable with the contract stuff, hire an attorney to do this part.  They cost MUCH less than the commission for a realtor, and it may be worth it to you for piece of mind.

And that’s how it is done!

Once all of the pieces of the contract are complete and your buyer’s financing is settled, you will close on the house.  The realtor will set up a closing time and location and you will meet to sign the paperwork.  Bring your keys, any necessary documentation (like warrantees) and your IDs.

Congratulations!  You did it!

Selling your house for sale by owner can be hard to do.  It requires a lot of work, some savvy marketing, a few great photos and the ability to have negotiations about price.  But, it saves you a ton of money, and is super satisfying to do on your own.

If you have any questions, or would like to leave me a note, please comment below!

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How To Hold Your Own Open House – and What To Do When You Get An Offer

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