Hosting a successful open house, for the new real estate agent.
As a new agent, one of the best ways to meet your first buyers and sellers is to host an open house. In fact, many of today’s top agents regularly host open houses because they know that with the right strategy, a successful open house will grow their business. It’s one of the few selling strategies that has no reasons not to do it and major reasons to start. It doesn’t cost very much, doesn’t require extensive planning, has a fast payoff, is a relaxed atmosphere, the visitors are in a good mood, and it’s easy for a new agent to master. In short, hosting an open house is very different from cold calling or starting a direct mail campaign!
Shhhh! a little secret here … when we do open houses, we primarily meet new customers.
Now don’t think this is in any way underhanded, sneaky or unethical. When we host an open house, we genuinely are trying to sell that house, and we are qualifying the visitors to find a buyer that fits that house. Why are we qualifying those visitors? To save time for everyone involved in the transaction – the seller, buyer, lender, agent, home inspector, appraiser, title company, insurance company, moving company, the list goes on and on. Nobody likes deals that fall apart, and properly qualifying the visitors is your first line of defense against bad deals.
How many times do you think a couple was driving through a neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon, perhaps on their way to the mall and just happened across an open house sign? They say to each other “that’s a really nice house, lets go take a quick look.” This couple are not looking to buy, in fact they just bought a home and are looking for decorating ideas. How about the nosy neighbors? They can’t wait to see another home in the neighborhood to see what theirs might be worth. These visitors have no intention of buying this house and have no benefit to this seller. However, they might have a coworker or family member who could be interested, or maybe they are ready to buy and this home is too small or too big. Perhaps, they are getting ready to sell theirs soon too and are looking to have an agent do a CMA or Comparative Market Analysis (to learn how much their home is worth). Most of the visitors of an open house are these types of visitors. They are no good to the seller, but they are great for the agent.
We can’t tell if someone is a qualified buyer by just looking at them, we have to talk to them. We’ll ask qualifying questions like, “are you familiar with the neighborhood?” translation – are you a nosy neighbor? “How long have you been on the house hunt?” translation – are you a new potential buyer or an open house regular? “Have you spoken with a lender or will you be paying cash?” translation – are you in a purchasing position? When we identify that this visitor isn’t a buyer for this house, we pivot the conversation and now see how we can help them find or sell another home or just establish a rapport for future business. This is called prospecting, where we grow our business, and without prospecting for new customers agents can have big gaps between paychecks.
So now you know the why, let’s get into the how.
Be sure to have plenty of the following items with you.
- Business Cards
- Sales Contracts
- Feature Sheets
- Home Warranty Brochures
- Open House Signs
- Directional Signs
- MLS Listing Sheet or Brochure
- Special Features Display Cards
- Feature Sheet Holder
- Buyer Questionnaire
- Guest Book (to capture contact info)
- Smartphone with Mortgage Calculator
- Snacks or Beverages
- Fresh flowers go a long way
- A good book – sometimes it can be slow
Now that you’ve got you car packed and ready to go, let’s head to the house.
Place your open house sign on the property as early as local ordinances allow before your open house. If allowed, place the sign there on Friday for a weekend open house with a rider on top that says “Open House Saturday”. Since many buyers regularly drive the area they are interested in, this can increase your open house traffic significantly.
Before the open house:
- Advertise early, most newspapers have specials for open house listings. Update your Zillow, Trulia, MLS and Realtor.com listings to announce the open house.
- Circle Prospect the neighborhood at least the day before the open house to invite the neighbors. They chose this neighborhood themselves so maybe they know someone else who would be interested too.
- If possible, recruit another agent to work the open house with you. There are benefits for both of you and it helps ensure security for you and the property.
The day of the open house:
- Arrive early and tour the home to get familiar with the layout and the unique details of this home.
- Open ALL the blinds and turn on ALL of the lights. Everyone loves a bright cheerful home, and dark rooms don’t sell houses.
- Arrange your marketing materials in the kitchen, this is usually the central location in the home and a good place to begin and end a tour.
- Set out your display of light snacks and drinks.
During the open house:
- Greet visitors at the door with a warm smile.
- Get the visitors’ names, email and phone numbers by having them fill out the guest book. This is crucial to your success. If you don’t get contact info you can never follow up. This is also a security feature and lets the homeowner know who has been in their home.
- Give them an MLS Brochure and/or Feature Sheet. Make sure you have bright colorful pictures. People love pictures.
- Give them a tour of the home and ask qualifying questions such as “how will you arrange your furniture in this room?” or “how does this home compare to your expectations from the outside?” These are conversation starters, we don’t want to interrogate someone but we can’t help them if we don’t know how they feel about the home.
- Ask closing questions to see if they are interested in the home. If they have kids ask, “so do you think the kids will be excited to pick out their rooms?” Watch for their reaction, this will tell you a lot about their feelings about this home. One that works in almost any situation is, “can you see yourself living here?”
- If they’re not interested in this house, pivot the conversation into prospecting mode. Don’t lose interest in the customer because they don’t like your listing. You’ll sell this house to someone else soon anyway, you might as well meet a new customer today.
- Make a positive connection with the customer, build a rapport. Remember, people do business with those that they Know, Like and Trust. This is you chance to start all three.
- Ask if they think they know anyone that might be interested in the home. This is another way of asking for a referral – a classic but effective prospecting tool.
- Ask when was the last time they had their home professionally valued. This is a great way to create a seller. Many people really have no idea of what their home could sell for in the current market and no, Zillow can’t give them an accurate price.
While not necessary, it is a great idea to team up with another agent for open houses. This allows each of you to take turns greeting visitors (potential customers) and minimizes the risk of having to tour more than one buyer at a time. It’s hard to build a rapport when you’re showing two strangers the same house at the same time. Having a partner also helps you protect the home. Visitors should never be left to wander a home unattended. This is someone’s home and they’ve hired us to sell it, that also requires us to limit security risks.
At the end of the open house when all visitors have left:
- Tour the home again to be sure everyone has left.
- Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
- Clean up any any messes from the open house for the homeowner. This includes wiping water rings off counters, stacking and arranging your marketing materials, blowing out any candles you may have used and turning off any appliances you may have turned on.
- Take down your Open House Sign on the lawn.
- Drive the neighborhood and pick up any directional signs you put up.
After the open house:
- Follow up with a thank you note to each visitor.
- Follow up after they have received the note with a phone call.
Congratulations, you’ve completed your first open house and hopefully met some future customers along the way. Hopefully you even found a buyer for this home.
We hope you enjoyed this article. If you have ideas for future trainings, let us know at info@RealEstateAcademyofOrlando.com
Also, if you’re a new agent, remember to complete your 45-Hour Post License Class before your first renewal. If you aren’t licensed yet, take the first step and complete the 63- Hour Sales Associate class in Orlando or Online.