Let the Music Play

Background music during an open house is a great way to evoke emotional responses from buyers, but it takes more consideration than just playing whatever happens to be on your playlist.

June 1, 2015

As a consumer yourself, you’ve probably recognized the intimate relationship between music and marketing. TV commercials, promotional websites, viral video marketing, and bricks-and-mortar stores all use music to evoke an emotional response from customers and tie that response to the product they’re selling. Think of how many commercial jingles you’ve had stuck in your head, and you’ll understand just how effective music can be in making a sale. The power of song can also extend to real estate.

The awkward clatter of heels across hardwood floors or the hollow echo of an empty room during home showings and open houses may strike a familiar chord for many real estate professionals, but these uninspiring sounds do nothing to add to the buyer’s experience. Imagine how background music could change the ambiance and heighten the senses and mood of buyers touring a home. Music has a persuasive impact on the human psyche, and it can create an illusion of life inside the home for buyers and increase their emotional attachment.

Be mindful, though, of the appropriateness of your musical choices, and don’t just play whatever’s on your iTunes playlist at the time. The music you play should be in line with the tastes of the types of buyers you’re targeting and evoke the essence of the home you’re selling. Use a common-sense approach to deciding what will likely appeal to people visiting your property.

Is Any Music Genre Off-Limits?

Real estate is increasingly about selling a lifestyle rather than just a home. And buyers live very diverse — sometimes extreme — lifestyles. With that in mind, it’s hard to say that any genre is a guaranteed no-no. Even less mainstream music, such as punk or new age, may be appropriate if it matches with the property and buyer pool, say, an edgy loft that would appeal to the artistic community.

With regard to luxury properties of historical architectural significance, try a thematic approach, pairing music style with architectural style. Location and amenities could probably inform your choice of music as well. Here are some examples:

If you’re hosting a luau-themed open house at a beach house, complete with tiki lamps and hula dancers, imagine tropical music outdoors. Classical piano, guitar, or even a stringed quartet could add to the opulence of traditional estates. For contemporary luxury homes that are likely to entice younger buyers, electronic music with a killer sound system might work well. A penthouse with a city view? Perhaps pop or a jazz combo could exude the energy of city life. You could even create a cultural theme around music: opera for Italian-style homes or Latin and flamenco music for Spanish-style homes.

These are just a few examples, but for the practitioner looking for a creative, out-of-the-box solution to jazz up their showings and open houses, the possibilities are wide open.

Live or Pre-Recorded Music?

Pre-recorded music works best for traditional homes, adding a livable feel to an open house through a common, everyday sense of connection. But for luxury properties, where you have the space and the need to add an element that will entice a high-end clientele, live music may be a better choice.

Live music is a special added value akin to an original piece of art as it compliments a room. It’s perceived value is greater by virtue of its exclusive and unique nature. Whether you decide to play a recording of a string quartet or hire live performers, in the end it’s simply a matter of value and perception. These are the distinctions that set the two apart. 

With live music, potential buyers can gain a real sense of what it might be like to entertain in the home. However, a live performer should remain in the background, never overshadowing the home or intruding upon normal conversation levels. But if your objective is to control a bit more of the experience, then it’s better to compile a personal playlist that you can turn on and off or switch tunes discreetly. 

There are also times when it’s appropriate to have no music at all. In the case of properties with a well-known reputation steeped in a significant historic event or chain of events, or if it was previously owned by a famous individual or family, little fanfare is needed. These homes truly speak for themselves, and music may actually distract a buyer from the experience you want them to have.

Where Should the Music Play?

If you’re hiring a live band, you’ll want them to perform in an area of the house that you want to draw attention to. If the home has an exquisite backyard, then stage the performers outside to draw attention to the outdoor amenities. If there’s a central location inside the home such as a grand family room where buyers would likely envision spending most of their time, put the performers there.

It’s always good practice to schedule a walkthrough with the performer a few days prior to the event. That’s when you and the musician can work out important details for the performance area, such as proximity of power outlets and ensuring the performance area doesn’t cut off the natural flow of foot traffic through the home.

It’s best to avoid obscured placement of a live performer, such as behind a large column, pillar, or any structure situated in the direct line of vision between you and the performer. This will allow you to better communicate with the performer from across a room and will allow the performer to read the room and adjust the dynamics of his or her performance as needed.   

You shouldn’t be oblivious to the performer, and you should communicate with them throughout the entirety of the open house. Though you’ll be heavily engaged with guests, you’ll want to check in with the performer about volume level, let them know when they need to pause so you can make an announcement, or simply to let them know they’re doing a great job.

If your decision is to use pre-recorded music, it should also remain in the background. Even at a low volume level, vocal music can create an unnecessary distraction, so something instrumental is best. A well-thought-out playlist is very important before the open house. When compiling your playlist, try to keep the mood of the music relatively consistent, avoiding radical changes in style, tempo, and volume.

The open house is your opportunity to take an unusual and unforgettable approach to marketing a home. Adding music can turn it into an event rather than just another showing, and it can add to the exclusivity of the experience. People will remember you for it, and it could even become your calling card with potential to yield even greater success in your unique market.