Why do we need to do Open Houses? Let’s be honest with ourselves. We normally don’t do them until the Seller demands one. That’s the wrong attitude and it normally effects the way we plan for it and our expectations during it. Granted, based on statistics, only 5% of buyers actually buy a house found via an open house event. But, think of other ways it will help you attract business. You will attract a pool of buyers, you will attract other sellers, and you will deliver the best possible service to your current seller. Of course, all of this will only happen if you do a good job of promoting the event. Let’s take a look at some NAR statistics from their” 2006 Survey of Buyers and Sellers”, as to how important Open Houses are to buyers.
This survey was done by the National Association of REALTORS with buyers who had actually purchased a home in the past year. Note the fact that Buyers rated Open House more useful than newspaper advertising and home magazines.
From the previous slide re: NAR Survey, we saw how important the internet is. You can now promote your Open Houses on century21.com and open house.com. All you need to do is sign onto 21online, click on Listings tab, choose the listing you will be holding open. You will see several options on how to enhance your listings, so choose the open house option. Just fill in the info in the template. Let’s talk about some of the other ways to promote the open house. Why would you want to invite the surrounding neighbors? Of course. They may know of someone looking for a house in the area, and they may even be thinking of selling their home. And what about this nearby less expensive neighborhood? Most people want to move within the same school district, so when they outgrow their current home, they are great candidates for a nearby more expensive neighborhood. Have you also thought about the fact that with interest rates still being low, if they bought their home, oh 5 years or more ago, and haven’t refinanced, they might even be able to be able to get this new, larger home for about the same monthly payment? So, when sending promotional materials to them, include something like: “If you have been in your home several years, you, yu may even be able to purchase this home with very little increase in your monthly payment and no money out of your pocket. Why not stop by the open house or call me to do the analysis for you?” Promoting an open house is a great reason for prospecting FSBO’s and Expireds. Remember, FSBO’s think we don’t earn our money and Expireds thinks their previous agent did not do enough to promote their property. You can show them how neither is the case when they hire you. In fact, you can even add this comment: “ If you list me prior to this event, it will also give me an opportunity to tell potential buyers about your house as well. I’d even be willing to have one of my team members hold yours open at the same time”.
You do not want to miss one opportunity to promote this event., so be sure you include eGreeting postcards to other agents and your sphere of influence. You never know when someone in your SOI, is thinking about moving, or knows someone else who is. Besides, it only takes a few minutes to do this, and it is one more opportunity to keep your name in front of them, and to show them what a successful professional you are. And, why not include your current buyer pool? We all know that buyers not always buy what they first described to you, so we never know when another property will appeal to them. It will also show them that you are keeping them well-informed of all possibilities for them. Plus, they might know someone else who is also looking!
I think we all know what sellers would not be present, but don’t hesitate to remind them that buyers will not feel as free to look around or express themselves if they are present. And, don’t forget that buyers have to mentally and emotionally take ownership of the property, and that is not possible with the current owner there. You should have already had these conversations with the sellers about removing valuables (and that doesn’t mean putting them in the top dresser drawer). And about making sure pets are not present during showings and the open house. Even friendly pets are a distraction, and some people are allergic to or dislike animals (I know that’s hard to believe). Removing their cars help the buyer’s initial view of the property to be more spacious and uncluttered, as well as the fact it will free up parking space. In fact, your car should not be parked in the drive way or in front of the house either. Ask a neighbor for permission to park at the curb in front of their home if possible. You definitely don’t want the seller or you to park in the garage – remember spacious and uncluttered.
Everything here, once again are all things you should have discussed with the seller when you took the listing, but it is really important to remind them when they are having a open house. They absolutely want the property “showcased” and shown at it’s best! Don’t wait until the day before the open house to review this with the seller. This should be done the moment you first discuss the open house date.
If it is okay with the seller for you to serve light refreshments, it is a great way to get potential buyers to linger in the property and give you an opportunity to build rapport with them. Your goal with every attendee is to not only build rapport, but to gain feedback from them regarding this property. Most importantly, you want to find out about their current housing needs and show them how you can help them with that process. Serving refreshments will also give them a “at home” feeling. If you serve refreshments, stay away from dark colored drinks, i.e. colas, red cool aid, etc. and gooey, sticky foods. During summer, lemonade or Sprite, Seven-up might be best (or even bottled water), and during winter, think about hot apple cider (the instant, powdered ones can be made in large batches by just adding boiling water). Think about getting to the open house a little early and even baking the refrigerated cookies. All you have to do is break them apart and put on a cookie sheet in the hot oven). Yuummmm, think about the spell of home-baked cookies wafting through the house. Talk about feeling at home! Make sure you have your signs all ready, including directional ones (if allowed by local ordinances). You might even want to put one up on the major roads ahead of time promoting the open house. That way people who drive those streets during the week to and from work, shopping or school will see them. Those people may not drive that route on the weekend (make sure you check local ordinances). If you do this, put a rider on the signs that tell the date and time for the open house. When you put up directional signs on the corner of someone else’s yard, please ask the homeowner for permission. Even though it may be a public right-of-way, it is the courteous professional thing to do. It even gives you an opportunity to build rapport with that person – and don’t forget to send them a thank you note afterwards. Wherever you put these directional signs, attach balloons or flags ad include the one in front of the house, too. Also, be sure that the signs do not block drivers’ view of traffic. Previewing the other listings will allow you to be more informed with potential buyers attend your open house and you find that your listing doesn’t suit their needs. You can suggest showing them the other properties if it’s the neighborhood they want.
Have a sign-in book or sheet as a way of gathering names and contact information for attendees. If allowed in your area, you may even want to have some kind of door prize to give them an extra incentive for giving you the information. You can even use the NAR “Permission to Call” form that you can obtain from www.realtor.org. This gives you permission to contact then via phone and email fro future reference. You may want to consider putting a tent card (from any office supply store) by the sign-in sheet with the following on it: “Seller kindly requests that all guests please sign in”. Speaking of tent cards, make ones for all the special features in the house to call more attention to them. Sometimes you may be so busy, you won’t have the opportunity to escort every visitor through the property, and you don’t want to miss the chance to make sure they know all about the value of this home. Example: the carpet was replaced last month – tent card “ Seller installed this new, plush carpeting approximately a month ago”; Energy efficient heating system – tent card “the heating and cooling system has a energy efficiency rating of ____”. At Home with CENTURY 21 magazine can be purchased in bulk and you should place a sticker version of your business card on the magazine for personalization. A little note about the vanilla scented deodorizer/potpourri: If you aren’t baking the cookies as we discussed before – a little vanilla dropped on a warm burner, or using deodorizers or potpourri will create that same “home” feeling. Cinnamon is another fragrance for accomplishing this. Stay away from real “perfumy” or strong fragrances. They may irritate people with allergies and asthma, plus it may make buyers feel the seller is trying to mask an offensive odor.
Remember, you want people to linger, so entertaining the children will be essential. You may have noticed already “when the children ain’t happy – ain’t nobody happy”. Please avoid things like coloring books and crayons – you never know what they might decide to color. Puzzles, books, etc. are great items. Take your laptop computer with the Buyer Presentation downloaded from the Virtual Presentation Library, and personalize it with your and your company’s information. You can even include information about the property and your company’s other listings. Then set it up to run on “continuous loop”, which means it will keep running over and over, so you won’t have to reset it when you are busy. If you don’t know how to do these things, please take our free VSS and Self-paced classes on the CENTURY 21 Learning System site (CLS). The Buyer Service Pledges can be obtained from Merrill or downloaded from 21online. It will be easier to get commitments from the buyers attending the open house when they see you written commitment to servicing their home-purchasing needs. You want to include in your handouts financing information, so please take advantage of the flyers you can create on the CENTURY 21 Mortgage site (from the pull-down menu on 21online, choose CENTURY 21 Mortgage). These flyers include property information and ways to finance it, helping buyers see it is within their affordability range. What happens if you hear Mrs. Buyer saying to Mr. Buyer “Honey, do you think our china cabinet will fit on that wall?” Well, you pull out your handy laser measurer and say “that area is 4 feet 7 inches and it is 2 feet 9 inches deep. How large is your cabinet?” Talk about selling with service! Always take fresh flowers and an inexpensive vase to help spruce up the area where you set up your materials, and then leave them for your seller with a thank you wrap up the open house. Take careful consideration, too, where you set up those materials. Try to get as close to the front door as possible so you can greet attendees right away, and for safety reasons as well.
Don’t go rushing in at the last minute. Go early to assure being prepared and being composed when it’s time to begin the event. Keep in mind, too, that some people may come early and you don’t want to miss an opportunity.
Most of this information is self-explanatory but very important. Keep in mind, that your goal with every contact is to find out about their needs and to get appointment to help them with those. Sometimes, we get so busy trying to sell them on this particular property, we forget to find out what they are really looking for. This can send them a message that we really aren’t listening to them, or showing interest in them. Learn to ask open-ended questions that will help you accomplish this – let’s take a look.
Ask as many open-ended questions as possible. Some cannot be formed in an open-ended format, such are the one about working with a agent currently. However, the more open-ended questions you can ask, the more you can learn about the attendee. One of the greatest advantages is the fact that you are also psychologically controlling the conversation and keeping the other party engaged. It makes them feel you are interested in them ad that you have a plan for helping them.
Again, much of this is self-explanatory but important. The ones here that most agents overlook are following up on all leads IMMEDIATELY and sending thank you notes, even to other agents who stopped by or brought prospects. Don’t forget those people who let you put up those directional signs and the Seller if you didn’t leave one with the fresh flowers as mentioned before.
How to havea open house by design - not by accident
How to Have An Open House by DesignNot By Accident