September 29, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
If you’ve ever sold a property, you know that open houses are a part of the process and usually have little to ‘okay’ results. According to the National Association of Realtors statistics, only 1-2% of homes ever get sold at open houses. Many agents even view them as either a necessary evil or a waste of time altogether. Perhaps that’s why the statistics are so low!
There are agents (and investors, too) that view open houses as an opportunity to shake up their corner of the real estate world, get a couple of bonafide offers on the home they’re selling, and as a potential source of more business, too.
Everyone has thoughts about Open Houses. Regardless of stats, I would think many buyers have been to its open house.
What’s your take on open houses? What if you could spend a little time in solid preparation and create an amazing open house with phenomenal results?
I’ve taught classes with a handful of very energetic real estate agents that turns into an “out of the box” discussion about strategies, selling on the spot and bringing more people to your open houses. For example:
- Signage – When, how many and where to stab them!
- Nowadays, there are many zoning ordinances when it comes to signs. Know these laws, else be fined $$. Usually, put them out Saturday morning and pick them up Sunday evening when you’re done.
- If you’re tucked way back in the neighborhood, you’ll need a lot of signs. 50? 100? Yes, that many. Hire it out.
- Intersections, street corners, you want to make it easy for anyone to find the home. The sign should also exemplify your event, not just “Open House.” Ask neighbors if you do a complete home value analysis for them, would they mind if you stab a sign in their yard until you’re done.
- Pre-marketing techniques
- Door knock and invite the neighborhood, get local vendors involved and ask about store coupons you can give to visitors, find local contractors and ask if they’d like to have any marketing material at your open.
- Post-cards, raffle, door prizes, contact your personal sphere of influence, offer home value analyses, free loan approvals.
- Toys to have with you on site
- Kids will be there, be prepared. Have your logo on some stress balls, pens, water bottles, etc.
- Best times/days
- Everyone does it on Sunday. There is the most traffic then. Use other opens to help draw for yours. Do a special invite-only preview on Friday evening for two hours for the local neighbors and your closest friends and clients.
- Is your local football team playing then? Have a TV with the game on (Silent).
- What to say, what to wear
- You should know your open house questions, scripts, and dialogues perfectly so you can have meaningful conversations without thinking about what you’re going to say next. Be able to handle 3 or 4 couples at the same time.
- Wear for the price point, community, area, and locale. And a little bit dressier. Don’t wear jeans and a t-shirt to a luxury home open (Do I really have to say this?)
- Getting help
- Your lender, your title company, your contractor, home inspector.
- Meet with them and discuss what you want them to say/do to help get them more business and direct people toward you.
- Your all-important mindset
- Perhaps the most important. You can see this can be a wild, enthusiastic even if you want it to be. You must be sharp and great at managing the chaos of people in and out.
- Will you need food? Candles? Smells? Music? Entertainment?
- The bigger the event, the more you’ll need. Talk to an event planner.
- Bottled water, snacks, wine, and cheese, cookies.
- Smells like vanilla or cinnamon are pleasant and non-obtrusive.
- Soft instrumental music in the background. Know a local musician? Ask if they’d like to play on the spot. Guitar, cello, electric piano. Get creative.
- How will you handle all the people?
- This is where you meet with your lender, title company, contractor, etc. to discuss how. Have a clipboard you can give them as they walk in the door to take notes and give you comments. Ask them if they’d like you to send them pictures not available to the public.
- Taking loan applications on the spot
- Talk to the sellers and get guest access to their wifi or bring a hotspot. Your lender should be able to take applications on the spot.
- Get help from the seller
- Wi-fi access, make sure the house is clean and clear of clutter, put all valuables, mail, meds, guns, loose change and personal items away. You should have already gone through this with them before listing.
- Give them a gift certificate or coupon from a local restaurant for lunch and they’ll need to be gone for the duration.
- Make off-site accommodations for any pets.
Yes, it’s a little work. However, I know agents that only do open houses and nothing else. Open houses are a great way to get your property (And yourself) known to the community, the neighborhood and the market. What you put into it, whether you’re a homeowner or an agent will determine your results. If all you do is five signs and some balloons, you’ll get very mediocre results.
Of course, the market in any particular area can create a stampede of visitors, if you’re in a market like that; you’re lucky. Otherwise, it pays to take open houses more seriously than a few signs and a boring afternoon.
Here’s a parable that may resonate…
Once there were two fishermen sitting side by side on a crusty pier fishing for ocean perch. They both started at the same time, they fished the same side of the pier and they were using the exact same type of rod and reel. Peculiar it was, but one of the fishermen couldn’t catch a cold and the other was reeling them in like it was Christmas. What was the difference?
What they used for bait.
The house for sale is not necessarily, ‘the bait.’ It’s how you present the “Open House Event.” Whether accurate or not, with only 1-2% of homes being sold at open houses, you’ll need a lot of people there if you want a chance at an offer. Your job as an open house agent is to get people there. Have a conversation with them and determine if you can help them. Once they see the home if they’re interested, great! If not, find out why and if they could change or add something that would change their mind. It may just be something you and the seller could provide.
According to a Harris Interactive Research study, 91% of all home buyers attended or plan to attend an open house as part of their home buying process. Even in this crazy age of the internet. Buyers want to see, touch, and feel the real thing. Pictures are nice, but it’s much too expensive of an investment to buy without walking inside.
If you’re not telling your sellers that you’ll be creating an open house with lots of “buzz” in order to 1. Get people in the door, 2. Encourage qualified buyers of the benefits of buying this home, and 3. Potentially help any others with their real estate needs; then the homeowners are being misinformed.
Many sellers want an open house and it’s part of what you do, so be prepared to give it 100% and be ready to have purposeful conversations with would-be buyers about how you can help them.
Remember, your primary job as an agent is to sell the home as quickly as possible for the price and terms your (client) seller wants. Having many people come through the home increases your chances of that. Having it sit and languish on the market and just doing a mediocre open house job hoping for leads is an offense worthy of sending you back to your day job.
So do it right the first time. Make an impact. It’s silly to think after putting all this work in for an amazing event at your open house will not only increase your chances of selling the house increase dramatically, but you may get other business from it, too. Don’t be ashamed of it. Be up front and open with your seller about it, so if they’d rather not have an open, that’s okay, too.
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