The $5 Secret Weapon a Real Estate Agent Says Instantly Elevates Your Open House

published Mar 2, 2020
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Hosting an open house can be stressful. First, everything has to be immaculately clean and tidy. Then, strangers enter and inquire about everything from the brand of your appliances to the quality of nearby school systems. In those crowded and crucial moments, it can be hard to point out all the elements you feel make your space special. Clayton Connolly, a real estate agent at Whissel Realty Group in San Diego, has some advice: Go to an office supply store and buy a tasteful pack of unruled index cards.

Costing somewhere between $1.29 for a basic model and upwards of $10 for something a bit fancier, the cards should be placed near your home’s best features. Each one can have a short, handwritten note explaining what makes a certain feature great.

“It’s a classy way to display favorite features,” Connolly says. The cards will catch potential buyers’ eyes and draw them in as they’re touring the rooms. “People walk around like a showroom and learn about different parts as they go,” Connolly explains. Plus, this added information with a personal touch lets buyers know the space has been cared for. 

Where can you buy nice index cards?

You can get a 100-pack of 3-by-5-inch unruled Universal index cards at Staples for $2.49,  but Connolly recommends you go for something more upscale. “You have to make it a legitimate display to show them they are experiencing something better than average,” says Connolly. “Thick cardstock is a special touch that draws attention.”

Look for flat cards that have some weight to them. At Paper Source, cards in A6 size (4½ by 6¼ inches) come in a pack of 25 in a range of colors such as plum, eucalyptus, and bluebell for $4.95. Online, LCI Paper,, and the Paper Mill Store have similar options and prices. If you want the cards to have a metallic sheen, a pack will go for closer to $10.

What elements do you point out?

Connolly’s main rule is to “appeal to the buyer’s senses.” Big-ticket items such as new kitchen appliances or even a new boiler in the basement should be called out, as well as anything that has interesting character.

“If new plantation shutters were added in 2019, post a card next to the window to describe [them],” he says. Is the crown molding original? Are the shelves made from reclaimed wood? Is the farmhouse sink new? Write it all down.

How to write it down

If you’ve got great penmanship, find a nice pen and go for it! Otherwise, ask a friend who does or type your notes and print them out.

A small piece of double-sided tape should work for mounting the cards to spots like a windowsill, wall, or tile. Otherwise, Command Picture Hanging Strips will ensure no damage is done to the paint or walls.

The result

These thoughtful call-outs will ensure people see and know about your favorite features. When it comes to open houses, “It’s all about presentation and emotion,” Connolly says.