Branding, buyers and bad photos: 3 more reasons open houses excel at selling real estate

Think of the open house as a satellite office, and stock it with value

In my last post I asserted that agents who don’t believe in open houses may just be lazy.

I hope I did not offend too may readers out there.

Home sweet home image via Shutterstock.
Home sweet home image via Shutterstock.

Moving on with my list of the top five reasons to do an open house this weekend, I will pick up at No. 3.

3. Branding. Multimedia marketing builds the brand of a product, and your product is your listing. The marketing that you do to promote an open house not only builds your brand as a go-getter agent, it brands the house as well.

Effective open house marketing includes posting on the MLS; syndicating to as many websites as you can; hand-delivered or snail-mailed postcards; targeted social media posts; inviting the neighbors; and alerting the cooperating agents in the area. Every piece of marketing should have a link back to the information page for your listing.

Sites such as ListingDomains.com offer reasonably priced single-property websites that are simple to use. You can put the URL on a sign rider and on all of your marketing. Add the URL to your email signature, put it on your business card, or even better make up property-specific business cards to hand out with a QR code and a photo of the house along with your contact information.

I explain to sellers that marketing is like a pie: Some pieces of the pie are larger than others. For example, Internet is a huge slice of the marketing pie and postcards are a smaller slice, but should still be included in a comprehensive plan to get a home sold. Open houses are a good-sized slice of the marketing pie. The more eyes we can get on on the house, the better.

4. Satellite office. Agents who have been in the business for a while often fondly remember the days when customers would call in or walk into their office ready to buy a house. Buyers today are not calling or walking into real estate offices as often.

Buyers report that open houses are a part of their search and that they visited a number of open houses as part of the process. This is according to the NAR 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The study also breaks down the methods buyers use to search by age group, and both the echo boomers and the millennials are visiting open houses.

Another interesting data point is that buyers interviewed only one agent for the job of helping them find a home.

Marketing 101 — go where the buyers for your product are. Think of the open house as your satellite office and set it up that way. Have on hand information on the homebuying process, area info, school info and any other “stuff” buyers may like and would be of value to them as they search.

You can also make your time at an open house productive by using an iPad application like Open Home Pro. The app is your sign-in sheet on your iPad. It takes the buyer through a few questions, has them enter their contact information and sends a follow-up thank-you email to all who sign in.

The agents using the Open Home Pro app report that they get better-quality contact information than they did when they used a paper and pen sign-in sheet. Open Home Pro eliminates the chicken scratch that you can’t read when trying to follow up.

5. The last and very best reason to hold an open house this weekend: Your listing photos are not very good. Even if they are good-quality photos, the photos of listings often do not do the property justice and people need to get in and see a property to truly appreciate it. It is common to hear a buyer at an open house remark that the house is much better than what they expected to find based on the photos.

In the Northeast where I am, the snow is starting to melt, the daylight is staying longer and the buyers are out in force. Put out the welcome mat for them and post your open house signs, and you will see your business grow.

Wendy English is the vice president and sales manager at Century 21 Commonwealth in Medfield, Mass.


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