While there’s no denying that nearly everyone searches for homes online, there’s also no disputing that people still love visiting open houses. While some agents have made them a cornerstone of their business, others feel they are a waste of time that yield little in the way of attendance or results. If you love the idea but are struggling to make them work, read on. Today I’m sharing some ideas and tips that can lead to a better outcome and a more enjoyable experience for all.
First, don’t “wing it”. If you establish a system with a timeline and checklist, you’ll soon realize that you need some lead time to plan, promote and execute the event. Don’t promise the seller that you can pull this off in 24 hours - you’ll need several days. Your plan should include:
- The “when” and “how long”. In my opinion and experience, two hours is plenty. You’ll actually create some urgency with a shorter window of time to tour. As for the day, think strategically. Is the home located near a commuter rail line? Perhaps midweek from 5-7 is worth considering. Near parks and ballfields where kids play on Saturdays? Do it then. If you’re hearing that a certain day is “customary” in your market, consider that your open on another day may very well garner MORE attention. It’s okay to be out of the box, if it is in the client’s best interests!
- Where and how it will be promoted, in addition to the MLS and syndication sites. Social sharing is of paramount importance, and a great way to get the word out. Many agents are having crazy success with facebook ads, which are affordable and allow you to target your offering to a specific audience. Others also promote in print and on Craigslist. Get that Open House rider up several days in advance, and have at least 8 directional signs to guide people to the home on the day of the event. Get clear on the “where”, the deadlines you must meet, and the costs involved - it will help you from a budget and Cost of Sale perspective.
- Inviting the neighbors! Door knock or send postcards to at least 50 surrounding homes. Encourage them to invite others. They may wind up being your next client or referring someone who will be!
- Who will help you? Smart agents don’t host alone. If the intention is to get dozens of people through the door, arrange for someone to assist in greeting, signing people in, and managing the traffic. This can be a loan officer - which is a win-win as they can meet potential buyers and borrowers - but may also include a rookie or junior agent who would love the opportunity to shadow and learn. Your sellers will feel better knowing that you have assistance, you’ll be better able to spend time connecting with visitors, and you’ll be safer. That’s a fact.
- What you’re offering or providing during the tour. Food, drink, local market data, promotional items - whatever it may be, if it’s part of your written plan you’ll know what you need each time without having to think about it. This allows for consistency and for the creation of your “signature system”.
Second, your mindset matters. It is imperative that you execute your Opens with enthusiasm! If you’re not thinking “YES! I get to host an open next weekend”, then offer the hosting opportunity to someone who will be truly delighted to be there. Yes, it is still your responsibility to promote the open on behalf of your sellers and your system should still be in place - you’re just leveraging one piece of it. Other mindset and thought considerations:
- You are hosting. Not sitting, not having, not doing, HOSTING. What does a host do? Creates comfort. Engages. Encourages conversation. Open the door for guests, shake hands and offer a bottle of water or to take coats. Wouldn’t you like for them to hang around for a bit? Make it easy for visitors to do so!
- Imagine every visitor is secret shopping you. Secret shoppers are hired by companies to ensure that customers are receiving a high level of service and courtesy. If you knew that you were being evaluated by every person who came through the door, would you be more likely to “up your game”? I want you to host as if each guest was interviewing you to be their agent, and conduct yourself accordingly. You are there for a reason, and in reality it’s to meet your next client. Work with that intention.
Ask the right questions, and these four are the most important:
- “How did you hear about the open today?” You want to track this so you can be sure to direct your resources to the right places.
- “Who are you working with?” - not “are you working with an agent?”. Ask “who” and you’ll get a more truthful response; then extend courtesy to the agent named by letting them know that their clients were in attendance. Ask if you may follow-up for feedback and do so by way of email.
- “What’s your favorite feature” and “what would you change if you lived here?” The purpose here is two-fold. First, you are gathering feedback for your seller in a way that allows you to engage with the visitor. Second, what they share with you likely makes up their wish list! Now you have an opportunity to demonstrate your local market expertise with non-represented buyers. You can respond with something like “wow, what you are describing sounds just like 123 Main Street...and there could be an opportunity for you over on Broadway…” See? Now you are connecting. Are you using Relola to share your insights around every home you become familiar with? Do this with consistency and you’ll be rewarded!
- Collect visitor contact information. This is easier than you think. Here’s how.
- Ask the seller this question: “do you wish to require that all visitors to the open house register upon arrival and provide full contact information?” Guess what? They are assuming you are doing this anyway. Expect your client to say yes.
- Place a sign out front - posted at the front door or next to it on a chalk sandwich board - that states: “The seller requires all visitors to register today. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, kindly make an appointment to tour the home with an agent at another time.” When you’ve set the expectation, guests will comply, and remember - sellers have every right to know who has been through their home.
There you have it. Open houses are a fantastic way to promote the property, connect with folks you don’t know, and demonstrate how you work. Commit to a signature system around them and get moving!
Beth Incorvati is our Chief Blogger and Podcast Host at Radio Relola. She has been training, motivating, and inspiring real estate professionals for over fifteen years.