In gearing up for an open house, you’ve thought of everything: the perfect clutter-free decor, great hors d’oeuvres and flattering lighting. But in all of the preparation for potential buyers, you didn’t think about another set of all-important guests: their kids.
What to do, when your potential buyers show up with little ones? It may seem like a small thing, or even an inconvenience, but interaction with the kiddos can actually be a golden opportunity to further your reputation and build a rapport with the entire family.
Remember, each customer will ultimately be part of your circle of referrals for life. Keep the young ones happy, and mom and dad will remember it. Not to mention, the young folks might well be homebuyers themselves one day!
With the right mindset, you’ll have no trouble keeping the kids occupied (and their parents happy) during an open house. Here are a few of my suggestions for making the situation a great success:
1. Think like a kid
As a real estate agent, it’s easy to focus entirely on the business at hand, and it’s logical to concentrate on the adults. But the kids are the gold, the parents’ pride and joy. They’ve also been driving around looking at homes with the ‘rents for days, weeks or months, and are used to most agents looking right past them.
Make a point to engage, and they will talk about you long after the family leaves your open house. Chat with them, play a little bit, and they will remember you fondly — and keep you top-of-mind with mom and dad.
2. Be real
Avoid the temptation to be overly formal. Laugh, and chat with the kids so that mom and dad can relax a bit and concentrate on the task at hand.
Most buyers are looking for a bit more than just support with paperwork or transaction management, and the small gesture of distracting their kids gives a bit of breathing room to open a closet door or to enter a room and explore a bit more thoughtfully — moments that can make all the difference in whether they ultimately decide to buy.
3. Enlist the little ones
Giving the kids something to do — involving them in the process — is something buyers will appreciate. Make them your assistants for the day, ask the kids what they like about the home, make sure mom and dad hear their answer.
Debbie Biery had some additional ideas on keeping the progeny occupied at an open house in “7 ideas to keep the kids busy so your clients can focus.”
Some agents will go as far as to keep props in their car and hire the kids as an assistant for the day.
“I make any children my assistant with a clipboard and pencil [and] ask them to take pictures of things they like and write feedback if 7 years old-plus,” said Candace Wells Summerall, Realtor at Keller Williams Realty, Savannah, Georgia.
The little ones can even run around the home to create the lived-in noise they will have in the near future. Make the house a home to the homebuyer.
4. Have a grab bag of goodies at the ready
There are a plethora of knick-knacks that agents can keep on-hand to keep the youngest guests occupied, and they can even provide a branding opportunity. Amber Taufen suggested in “Moving with kids: What real estate agents should know” that items could include:
- Kid-friendly snacks
- An iPad with age-appropriate games already loaded
- Simple toys like yo-yos or Etch-A-Sketches
- Age-appropriate books about moving to a new house
- Swag like tattoos, buttons, notebooks or other items from your office
- Company-branded coloring books about moving to a new home and crayons
It’s wise to be well-prepared and have more on hand than you think you’ll actually need, as the distractions can also be deployed as tools to diffuse any potentially stressful situation.
5. Remember that home is where the heart is
Home is not a transaction — it’s where a family truly lives. It’s birthday parties, first proms and holidays. It’s a place where friends and family come to visit. Building relationships on sharing and caring for the customer is very important, and kids are the future of those connections.
The most rewarding part of being a real estate agent is helping families begin to build long-term memories in a space that will ultimately be their home, and those memories start the day you meet the customer.
On the surface, a real estate transaction is just that — a business agreement, but navigating the search for a home goes much deeper. An agent who connects with the kids will engage families in a much more meaningful way.
The kids are the center and future of that healthy home, and building a relationship with them kicks off memories for the future. The effort will pay both emotional and practical dividends for years to come.
Joe Maxwell is the designated broker-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Pacific Commons in Washington state. Follow Joe on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.