After more than 20 years in real estate, I’ve learned that the most cost effective and efficient way to generate new leads is hosting open houses. My team and I have organized almost 500 open houses between 2011 and 2015, with an average attendance of 146 registered families.

After more than 20 years in real estate, I’ve learned that the most cost effective and efficient way to generate new leads is hosting open houses. My team and I have organized almost 500 open houses between 2011 and 2015, with an average attendance of 146 registered families.

We always try to see if we can get so many people that someone calls the cops about all the parked cars. We got pretty close when we reached a record 512 families at a single home.

It took some trial and error, but we believe we’ve perfected the practice of a successful open house. Here are the steps to packing in the crowds at your next open house.

Be picky when choosing a locale

Choosing a house seems like the first decision in the process, but before you decide on a house, you need to think about the specifics of what works and what doesn’t for the event.

The perfect place for an open house isn’t necessarily the first house on your brokerage listings.

Find a home that is close to major roads, where you will gain the largest audience for drop in clients. Pay attention to the price point of the house as well, and choose something that fits with the average price of comps in the area.

Real estate owned properties are a fantastic option for open houses because they are vacant.

Once you find the perfect property, you are well on your way to a successful open house.

Strategically choose the date

Choosing the right day for your open house is another important key to ensuring a good turnout. My experience and research has proven that Sunday is the best day of the week to host an open house.

The hours between noon and 4 p.m. are ideal because so many people either sleep in or go to church on Sunday morning and want to be home before football or in time to get ready for their week ahead.

Choose any Sunday afternoon, and start planning for a crowd.

Create a solid sign strategy

Marketing is essential not only for advertising your business, but also for every aspect of the real estate world. So when you host an open house, you need to advertise any and everywhere you can.

It may sound old school, but signs are the most effective way to get people’s attention for an open house. Getting people to attend open houses is all about grabbing the attention of everyone who passes by.

Website advertising and flyers are unnecessary if you capitalize on setting up signs.

Here’s how you get the most traffic out of your signs:

  • Print about 200 signs
  • Go for simple and bold design; we like a yellow background with black lettering that says “open house” with the time, day and location
  • Pay someone to set them up the morning of the open house; post an advertisement on Craigslist, and find a local worker who will put up and remove signs for a flat rate
  • Have signs placed all around the neighborhood and on nearby roads so that anyone in the vicinity will know about your event

Outsourcing the signage will allow you to focus on the task at hand: setting up for the open house.

Gather visitors’ information for future use

You’ll never know if you get 60 people per open house unless you keep track of how many people attend your open houses.

Have a sign-in sheet right by the door, or set up an app that allows people to sign in.

Ask everyone to sign in for your own records of attendance numbers, as well as for future marketing and your own statistics about the area.

But remember, open houses are not the best time to go into sales mode. Just gather information about the visitors, and get to know them informally to improve your credibility.

If people are wary of handing over their information, just tell them that the seller requires everyone to sign in. 

Pay attention to specifics

Your goal in planning an open house is not only to attract a crowd of people but also to set up buyer’s agent appointments with clients.

If the people visiting the open house are actively trying to purchase a home, make sure you speak with them before they leave.

Ask if they are currently working with an agent, and whether or not that agent is meeting all of their needs in their house search.

I also recommend taking notes on every client that you meet, including the area they are looking to buy in and general facts about their family.

That way, when you speak to them again, you can personalize your conversation, and they will feel appreciated and be more willing to work with you.

Follow up

Your job doesn’t end when the open house does. The same evening of the open house, make phone calls to every person that you met. This is where having client notes comes in handy.

Check in with them about their thoughts on the open house, prove that you remember them by being personal and then either confirm or request an appointment with them.

Capitalize as soon as possible on all of the leads you get from the open house to make sure that you stay fresh in the minds of clients and can start building relationships.

Open houses are a powerful business practice in the real estate world, so make the most out of them.

Rick Nayar is the chief inspiration officer with Artesian Title in Orlando, Florida. Follow Artesain title on Facebook or Twitter

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