We've all seen it in the movies. Imagine a gorgeous house for
sale, with every guest greeted by a smiling real estate agent, a
warm handshake and a freshly poured glass of wine. Hollywood makes
the notion seem glamorous but is it actually a good idea to serve
alcohol at an open house?
First, we should mention that not all REALTORS® are allowed to serve alcohol at open houses. Some brokers, brands or MLS boards forbid it outright, while others frown on the practice heavily. And while any of these boards or organizations may squash your plans to serve liquor at an open house, they are often the least of your worries.
Local laws are an incredibly important consideration. A liquor license is often required for all events that are open to the public, like an open house, even if the drinks are complimentary. Most states will also hold you responsible for any DUIs or accidents that are caused as a result of drinking liquor that you served. It's absolutely crucial to ensure your open house is following all legal laws and that you know what your responsibilities are if something goes awry. Nobody has the time or money to waste on a lawsuit, so ensure you're following your local laws and have the appropriate insurance.
Serving alcohol at an open house also promotes loitering—for better and for worse. You may keep an interested buyer in your home longer and make them feel cozier, but you're likely to have the same effect on your average looky-loo too. It's possible you're simply wasting your time on someone who is feigning interest for an extra glass and cookie.
You'll want to watch out for the hospitality slippery slope too.
If you're serving wine, your guests will subconsciously expect a
light snack as well. Those who don't drink will want an equally
appealing alternative. Guests may also recognize cheap wine
choices, which shatters your illusion of class and style, and makes
the gesture obsolete. With this common "go big or go home"
attitude, serving wine at an open house can quickly become an
Finally, not everyone likes it. You may gain an extra hour or two of some people's time but many won't want to be in that environment, especially if there is any sort of abuse. Nobody wants to smell liquor on someone's breath in a business transaction, even if you only had a sip. Cultural, religious and personal preferences will make wine a turn off for a lot of individuals who just want to look at your house.
Overall, serving wine at an open house is rarely worth the hassle. Frankly put, people who are interested in buying your house won't be swayed either way by a sparkling glass of Rosé. If you're looking for a creative way to catch attention and give buyers something to nibble on, perhaps an afternoon tea is in order.