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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.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you have any questions, please see my disclaimer page.

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!

Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

These posts have been so helpful! We are selling in the spring of 2022, so this gives us plenty of time to prepare. I do have one question; what hours did you hold your open house? And is it best to do Saturday or Sunday? Thanks for any advice!


Sunday 16th of May 2021

Hi Laurie! So glad you're getting the info you need! We held ours in the early afternoon on a Sunday... maybe from like 12-3? I can't remember exactly. I will say, the day and time will depend on where you live. In the one place we sold a home FSBO (in the midwest), people would hold open houses any time of the day and any day of the week. For most places though, a Sunday morning/early afternoon is your best bet I think. Good luck selling your home!


Thursday 10th of December 2020

Hello! I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs! I do have questions concerning multiple offers and offers that come in higher than the asking price. In my area, homes are selling in 7 days or less and for more than the asking price. How would I handle multiple offers coming in in a short amount of time?


Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hi Marie! What a great problem to have!! Here is what I would suggest. Ideally, you would have an open house on the day of listing and have tons of people through. You should get most of the offers that day or the next. Tell all of the realtors (when they give you an offer) that you're holding all offers until a pre-set time (like until Monday night at 8pm or something if the open house is on a Sunday). Then, once you have all your offers in hand, you can compare. At that point, there are two ways you can go. 1. If you have a clear winner, go with that offer. 2. If you don't, but have several that are similar, you can go back to the top 2 or 3 and ask for their "best and final" offer. The realtors will either go back to their clients and come up with a higher number, or they will say that the current offer is their best and final offer. One recommendation... my preference was always to work with a fair realtor. If I had two offers come in that were pretty similar, and one realtor seemed really easy to work with, and one seemed like they were a real shark, I would take the lower offer with the nice realtor any day. You have to work with this person for about a month or so, and they can really be a challenge during the inspection part, asking for you to fix everything or even asking for complete remodels, so go with someone who isn't going to try to get one over on you if you have a choice. Good luck!


Saturday 26th of September 2020

Thanks Lauren!!!! Your shared experience has been so helpful!


Thursday 24th of September 2020

Thanks for this! I was all ready to throw an open house, but then was reading an article about how open houses are totally unnecessary. They are really just for the realtors to meet possible clients. And open houses is a breeding ground for burglary. What are your thoughts? Would you say the open house helped? Did you have the open house the first day you listed it for sale? Did you have realtors scheduling showings for their clients after the open house? Thanks in advance for your insight!


Saturday 26th of September 2020

Hi AJ! Open houses are definitely a place for realtors to meet clients if they are the ones throwing it. But if you are the one throwing the open house, it can only benefit you. On the first house I sold FSBO, we got 2 offers out of our open house, so yes, it definitely helped. We had our open house the second day that it was listed, due to some Zillow challenges. And yes, we did have lots of realtors scheduling showings for their clients after the open house on our second FSBO home (the first sold the day of the open house, so we didn't take any more showings for it). One reason that open houses help in an FSBO home is that many realtors will steer their clients away from looking at them. An open house means that anyone can come by, and they don't need their realtor to come with them. If the buyer is interested in the home, it is much harder for a realtor to steer them away once they've seen it, and know that they want it. Last, I never had any trouble with burglary in my open houses. Good luck with selling your home!