Open Houses Aren’t For Suckers Anymore
It was once believed that open houses were just another way to meet potential clients. On the contrary, I believe they are “Ground Zero” for showing off your professionalism. While agents spend time on-line looking to expand their network, they may just be neglecting the one sure way to make an instant connection with a captive audience. Don’t be fooled though. Today’s buyers are a savvy bunch and if you don’t know your stuff, you are dead in the water. Like a flyer through the mail slot, you only have a few seconds to make a connection with the person who just walked in the front door. More and more people are heading to open houses unrepresented. Perhaps it is their belief that dealing directly with the listing agent gives them the advantage. With the spring market firmly upon us, I thought it was time to offer up some tips for nailing that open house.
1. Tell 40. Have a feature sheet printed out with some information on the house and deliver it to the immediate neighbors. 10 on each side of the house and 20 across the street. Let them know yo are doing an open house and invite them over for a sneak peek 1/2 hour before the open house starts. Okay, the neighbors aren’t likely to buy BUT they might know people or, at the very least, they might remember you when they need to sell.
2. Promote your open house on-line. It’s one thing to Tweet out a message that you are holding an open house on the weekend, but to really capture some interest, make the tweet interesting and provide a link to your website so people can get more info on the house before hand. Tweeting it out once isn’t enough. Aim to send a messages out before, during and after. Don’t forget your other social media assets like Facebook and linkedIn.
3. Make sure you have done your research. The last thing you want is to draw a blank when a potential client to ask you about a sale down the street. Have a handle on active listings, recent solds, new restaurants, schools, parks, grocery stores and transit. It’s important to share any “scoop” you might have on the neighbourhood. Doing so builds instant trust.
4. Have some snacks. Source out a local delicacy. Custard tarts in Little Italy or walnut cakes in Korea-town are great things to chat about and keep the visitor engaged in conversation and lets face it, the more time you have to make a connection the better off you are.
5. Get signs out early. If you feel like you are encroaching on someone’s property, knock on the door and ask permission, and invite them to swing by the open house while you are at it. Great manners go a long way to building relationships. It might not be for every situation, but make directions to your house easy to follow by tying balloons to your signs. Also consider an open house rider on your lawn sign.
6. Be at the open house at least 20 minutes early. Get the lights on, close the toilet seat covers and make sure the house is looking its best. Have ample brochures available. Have a sign in sheet. People hate signing in so let them know that the seller has requested it for security reasons and let them know they can opt out of future contact. Of course you really want to stay in touch so ask them if they want to be notified when it sells or if they want to book a time to revisit the house.
7. Consider having a slide show on your iPad running with an electronic brochure that can be sent directly to the visitor. It saves on paper and people are more likely to share it with their friends.
8. Don’t lose control. On a hot new listing, things can get out of hand very quickly. If you suspect it might get nuts, consider having another agent working with you. We have had situations where there have been 80-90 people through in one afternoon. It’s stressful. I would also consider having another agent working with you. If you are doing an open house in a condo they can give visitors a feature sheet and send them up in the elevator.
9. Treat agents as you would clients. If an agent is bringing clients to the open house you know that they are serious. Offer feature sheets to them, not their clients. If a visitor comes in and tells you they are working with an agent, get that agent’s name and phone them to let them know their clients went through your open house.
10. Finally, the work doesn’t stop when the open house is over. Touch base with your top prospects as soon as possible. Send out thank you notes to via email or snail mail. To be truly successful at an open house you must spend as much time, or more, following up after your day.
One final note. Last year I had a gentlemen come in to my office to talk about joining our firm. One of the questions I asked him was “why us”? His response was simple. When he went into our company’s open houses he knew what to expect. There was an extra level of comfort and support that put him at ease right away. There is an important lesson here. At the end of the day, real estate is about building relationships and while we strive to find more ways to connect with people on-line, we shouldn’t forget the importance of the open house.