Open House? Thats Music to My Ears!


I have to confess something to everyone – I am a “Lookie Loo”.   No, not a member of the New Zealand hipster band, but rather someone who, as Elizabeth Weintraub defines it:

“…people who often masquerade as [property] buyers but have no real intention of ever buying. Other types of Lookie Loo’s are those who are intensely curious about the interior of other people’s homes and have developed a hobby of touring open houses.”

I am not entirely sure why or how this fascination with lurking about other peoples homes started, but for the past couple years every time I see an open house sign in my neighborhood I am drawn to it in the same manner that some people have to stop when they see a yard-sale. 

Over this time I have seen all kinds of homes, from hip metropolitan villas to absolute dives (kindly marketed as “fixer uppers”). I have found that just like meeting someone new, I have formed my impression in under 2 minutes; even when there are a few things that tend to bind all the experiences together, such as lit vanilla candles, stacked magazines on coffee tables, and organized remote controls (still haven’t figured that one out).

However, this weekend I experienced an open house that made me question the way I form my opinions at open-houses and consequentially indirect marketing as a whole.  The whole experience started innocently enough, with me wandering into a new condo development open-house that was happening on my way home from running some errands.  At first glance, everything seems fairly standard issue; open layout, clique color palette, and high efficiency appliances.  But the more I saw of the property the more I liked it – and I could not figure out why.  This was just like every other condo that was being built in the area, and was fairly “cookie-cutter” for lack of a better word.  Then, as I was standing in the master bathroom scrutinizing the grout between tiles it hit me – there was music playing.

I came back downstairs and sure enough there was soft down-tempo jazz coming through the living room stereo system, the kind of music that you would hear at your favorite lounge while enjoying some cocktails with your friends.  I must have stood there slack-jawed for a good minute before I fully comprehended the fact that it was this aural stimulus that was responsible for my unfounded interest in the condo.  It was not that I have all of a sudden discovered a new passion for faux-African artwork that adorned the place, it was that I was subconsciously drawn to the pleasing music and the feelings and memories it evoked.

From a marketing perspective this was a fairly profound experience.  Agents and home-owners spend so much time and effort making sure that the look, smell, and feel or a property is conducive to buying that aural stimulus is ignored, when as shown above, it can really have an impact on the consumer and the message you are trying to communicate indirectly. 

So I put the question out to both real-estate professionals and home buyers; have you ever used/heard music at an open-house, and/or do you think it is an effective tool for marketing a property?  Let us know what you think in the comments.


  • Chris says:

    I have to admit to being a ‘lookie-loo.’ I love looking at houses, and the subsequent discussions of the design after. I can honestly say that I have never been to one with music, that I recall, anyway, though I bet it would really enhance the experience.

  • Megan says:

    I hope more agents begin to use music at their Open Houses as part of their marketing. I think it actually could be more effective than the forced ambience of vanilla candles and organized remotes. But, since people have such diverse tastes in music – how would you know you are selecting the right music to please everyone, without risking putting off a potential buyer? I would hate for everyone to be playing muzzak (a.k.a. elevator music) at their open houses because it’s ‘safe’.

  • Ian says:

    An interesting idea Chris, while I spent several months this year browsing Kelowna for a home to purchase I never once came across one with music. I think the goal when deciding what music to choose would be to find a genre that is least noticable as you want it to affect the potential purchasers mood yet distract them from the product.

  • Chris says:

    I think a nice down-tempo jazz, as mentioned in the article, would be a really nice choice, and wouldn’t be terribly offensive for most visitors. Or even a calm classical piece would be nice.

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