Open house visitors on the patio of Howdy Howard's Holiday Home in October 1952 (NAR Archives).
What’s a proven method for getting a good turnout at your next open house? One REALTOR® had some success with a car, some soft drinks, and a huge media blitz, according to an article in the March 1953 issue of the National Real Estate Journal.
In the fall of 1952 a young Dallas homebuilder promoted his new model home with an offer of a new car and free soft drinks. All one had to do to get the new Cadillac was purchase one of Howdy Howard’s Holiday Homes.
The 31-year-old Howard was proud of his Holiday Home and pulled all the stops to let Dallas-area home buyers know about it. The house featured year-round air conditioning, an all-electric kitchen and laundry, two and a half baths, and a large patio with a sink and refrigerator built into the barbecue pit. The exterior walls were made of 100-year-old bricks and the steps were faced with imported Mexican tiles.
Howard advertised on local television and radio stations and in the newspapers and other media outlets — even an aerial banner ad — inviting everyone to see the home during a 12-day open house beginning October 26, 1952.
The Dr. Pepper beverage company provided complimentary drinks during the event. Handing out soft drinks on the patio was Dr. Pepper employee Barbara Gentry. Earlier in the year she had gained fame as “Alice from Dallas,” the city’s official hostess at a national Jaycee convention, and as Miss Dallas Texans for the new football team.
On its opening Sunday an estimated 30,000 people visited the house. By the time the 12-day open house was over, nearly 100,000 prospective buyers and curious lookers had toured Howdy Howard’s Holiday Home.
Built in the fashionable Northhaven Hills area, Howard said about half of the homes would be built to his specifications and the rest according to clients’ wishes. Prices ranged from $40,000 to $110,000. All came with groceries stocked in the kitchen and of course a Cadillac in the driveway.