• Every sale is contingent on whether prospective buyers like what they see -- hear, smell, taste and touch.
  • Take your time and account for the small details. Every little bit helps.
  • Shoppers are willing to spend approximately 20 percent more in stores that complement the shopping experience with simple smells, as opposed to complex ones.

The concept of the open house is relatively simple — and one that I have become very familiar with over the course of my investing career. I have found open houses to be invaluable to my selling efforts. They are, without a doubt, one of the most efficient and effective ways to generate interest in a property.

And, as I am sure you are already aware, interest translates into sales. You would be hard-pressed to uncover another selling mechanism with more promise than the obligatory open house.

Of particular importance, however, is the manner in which your visitors perceive the property. After all, every sale is contingent on whether prospective buyers like what they see —  hear, smell, taste and touch. The five senses, for that matter, should certainly be used to your advantage. Anyone neglecting to do so is only hurting himself or herself.

I encourage you to think outside of the box and entertain what it is I have to say. Although a bit unconventional, appealing to an individual’s five senses allows those running an open house to resonate on more levels than one. Addressing each sense has a way of bringing everything together and could be just what you need to sell your next home.

Below you will find the five senses your next open house should address and why each is as important as the next. The key is to use each one in a way that increases your ability to attract a buyer.

fredredhat / Shutterstock.com

fredredhat / Shutterstock.com


I can say with confidence that sight is the single most important sense to hit on over the course of an open house. Nothing else can sway someone’s decision more so than how the property looks. You must do everything in your power to provide an environment that is visually appealing to the largest audience possible.

I recommend hiring a professional stager, as the investment is well worth it. Studies have already shown that properly staged homes can sell for more money and in less time. In fact, a good stager is more than capable of paying for himself or herself.

If you don’t believe me, picture the opposite. Hosting an open house that is less than attractive is the surest way to prevent a sale from transpiring.

It is quite obvious when a seller doesn’t respect a property, and if your guests get the impression that you could care less, you are in for a world of hurt when it comes time to sell.

There is a good chance they will assume the property has been neglected for years, thus requiring more of an investment than meets the eye.

There is no way around it. You need to make sure the home is visually appealing. Take your time and account for the small details. Every little bit helps.


Far too many hosts fail to recognize that the open house experience is incomplete without an audible component. That said, you must cater to another sense: hearing. It’s too important to ignore.

Whether you know it, prospective buyers borrow a great deal from their surrounding environment, and sound is no exception. You would be surprised at how far a little music can go in persuading potential buyers to get off the fence. I encourage you to look at music as much more than an entertainment medium.

According to a study published by the American Marketing Association, “music tempo variations can significantly affect the pace of in-store traffic flow and dollar sales volume.”

Researchers found that the tempo of the music being played has a noticeable impact on the pace in which people walk through a respective store. Not surprisingly, slow music elicited a slower pace from consumers, essentially keeping them in the store longer.

The same study discovered that “higher sales volumes were consistently associated with the slower tempo musical selections while in contrast, the lower sales figures were consistently associated with the faster tempo music.”

I see no reason to suspect the same concept wouldn’t apply to the traditional open house environment. Therefore, I recommend anyone looking to host an open house to provide music for his or her guests.

Feel free to make a playlist, and allow it to play for the duration of the function. Again, you want to set the pace for anyone who stops by.

Use mellow, feel-good music that won’t have your audience running through the house. I like to play soft jazz or something along the lines of Jack Johnson. Feel free to experiment; just be sure not to play something too harsh and alarming.


Not surprisingly, smell is one of the first senses triggered when you enter a home. It can go a long way in making a good first impression, which we all know to be a critical selling asset.

It just so happens, however, that those hosting an open house can harness this sense and use it to their advantage. Outside of eliminating bad odors (which should go without saying), it is entirely possible to reach buyers on a subconscious level or at least that is what a study out of Washington State University would have us believe.

According to data presented in the study, shoppers are willing to spend approximately 20 percent more in stores that complement the shopping experience with simple smells, as opposed to complex ones.

Of particular importance, however, was the impact simple smells had on the cognitive function of said shoppers. “The simple scent,” according to researchers, “contributed to processing fluency, the ease with which one can cognitively process an olfactory cue.”

Although you might not be running a grocery store, there is no reason you couldn’t do the same. Simple smells have a way of eliciting nostalgic memories in almost everyone.

The key is to make the smell simple and something everyone will enjoy. Cater to the masses. At the very least, it will make it that much easier for them to envision themselves living in the house.

In fact, there is a lot to be said about baking cookies just before an open house. Simple, pleasing smells have a way of tying everything together and complementing the rest of the house in a way that no other medium can.


You don’t think you baked those cookies just for the smell alone do you? Of course not. Now is the time to show off those baking skills or to at least hire a caterer.

Either way, I recommend hosting some sort of snack and refreshment table. I am fully convinced you can’t even host a successful open house without offering guests something to eat or drink.

With such a practice having become an industry standard, you are only hurting yourself if you neglect to provide at least some sort of snack.

You never want to be known as the host that didn’t cater to his or her guests. Although this suggestion might sound trivial, I can assure you it enhances the entire experience.


Yes, even touch has its own place in the pantheon of sensory triggers you must address. However, unlike the others on this list, touch is more objective in nature. I could argue that sight, hearing, smell and taste are more subjective than anything else. They are, for the most part, in the eye of the beholder.

Touch, however, is a little less ambiguous; people can touch an item in question and come to the same conclusion. Ten times out of 10, people will tell you tile is hard or even that a stove can be hot. But why am I telling you all of this? The answer is simple: it’s your job to make sure people like what they are seeing or — in this case — touching.

This is where the quality of your workmanship comes into play. High-quality finishing materials say a lot about the home in question.

Everything including how the front door operates and how soft the carpet feels can influence a person’s judgment. That said, granite countertops feel a lot different than laminate. You had better believe your buyers will be able to tell the difference.

There are a few things I encourage you to take care of before you even think about showing your property. Pick a thicker carpet cushion, as your guests are more inclined to appreciate your attention to detail.

It might be a small detail, but an important one nonetheless. Granite countertops, depending on the neighborhood, can also go a long way in giving your buyers the impression the home is of high quality.

Remember, when holding an open house, you want it to come off as an experience; something your audience is more likely to remember.

The more you can differentiate yourself from the competition, the better your chances of landing a buyer are. Addressing the five senses mentioned above would make it a lot easier for buyers to remember your product.

Than Merrill is the founder and CEO of FortuneBuilders and CT Homes. Connect with Than on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @ThanMerrill.

Email Than Merrill

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