Now that some semblance of normalcy has returned and open houses are back, we should all be rethinking how we hold and host them. Of course, we need to take health and safety measures seriously — that’s a prerequisite to everything we do now.
First and foremost, an open house is an opportunity to showcase your brand, personality, knowledge and style. There is no single prospecting tool that is more effective and impactful.
You are the host everyone is coming to greet, and this is your time to shine. If you are not taking the time to prepare and set up your open house properly, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to connect with buyers, sellers, brokers and neighbors. So, when it comes to open houses, here are the eight things you need to keep in mind.
1. Pre-game prep
An open house is like a performance, and you need to harness your energy so you can perform at your peak. Do not stay out late and party the night before and show up exhausted or hungover. In fact, do the opposite. Hydrate the night before like a professional athlete does before a game.
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, and be well rested. In the morning, practice stretching or get a yoga or pilates class in. You can also go on a light jog or hike. You are going to be on your feet for three to four hours, so preserve your energy, and do not make Sunday morning your hardest training day of the week.
I made the mistake a few times of going for a long run and showing up to my open house with blisters, limping and wincing in pain. Also, have a healthy, hearty breakfast or brunch, and pack healthy snacks or a lunch to bring with you.
2. Know your stuff
Do not show up to an open house and expect results if you are not prepared to be an expert in that particular neighborhood or price point. Make sure you know all of the relevant comps and even the history of sales around the house for the past five years.
Know the price of the last tear-down, the price of the new construction homes and the average price per square foot. It’s imperative to come armed with knowledge of an off-market listing in the area or an upcoming listing that no one knows about.
You have to know more than the neighbors and buyers walking in the door, and you have to showcase your expertise, which includes knowing the restaurants, shops, schools and whatever else is going on in that neighborhood.
An open house is an opportunity to advertise at no cost. Invest in as many signs as you can afford, and put them out on strategic corners. Put out 20-plus signs if you can!
If you don’t want to do the grunt work, pay a sign company or someone else $60 to put out your signs at 8 a.m. and pick them up at 8 p.m.
In the early days, I used to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday, tape on the property address and put out signs. I always came home with cuts on my hands. I hated it, and eventually, I bit the bullet and realized that a sign company was a cost of doing business and a great ROI. I look at it as 12 hours of free advertising and branding!
4. Activate the space
Appeal to all of the senses at your open house, and set the right mood. Light a candle that smells good — something light and natural that is not nauseating.
Play music in the background, but know your audience. Do go nuts and blast Eminem or risk offending some folks. (But then again, you might find that one client who is a diehard Slim Shady fan, and instantly became their broker of choice.)
Open up the windows to get fresh air, turn on the lights and lamps, and have bottles of cold water and healthy snacks in the kitchen. If it is a hot summer day, turn on the AC; if it’s cold, turn on the heat. Activate the space.
5. Make it a virtual open house
Since COVID-19, began many buyers have become uncomfortable with coming to open houses, so it is critical to livestream them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Make sure the lighting is good, and there are no sound issues. I often get to the open house 30 minutes before it starts or the day before and shoot a video tour, room by room, and post it on YouTube so that buyers can access the tour 24/7. Also, that way, you expose the property to a much larger audience.
6. Read the room
An open house is a time to let your personality shine and connect with people. That said, you need to be protective of your energy and focus, and make sure you do not get distracted talking to nice people who want to monopolize your time and energy yet will never buy, sell or refer your business in a million years.
Of course, be polite to everyone, but you have to read the room and make quick decisions about who to spend time with. You also do not want to oversell the listing if they are not interested.
You need to be nimble and shift gears quickly, and bring up other properties that may be a better fit. This truly is an art that takes years of practice. The more open houses you do, the better you will get at it.
7. Safety first
Always have a safety plan at an open house. Make sure a family member, friend or fellow agent knows you are hosting an open house, and make a plan to call them a few minutes after the open so they know you have left safely.
It is also important to hide your valuables or purse so someone does not snatch it while you are showing a buyer the gym in the basement level. Of course, you need to alert your sellers that they need to clear out all valuables, medications and jewelry, or at least hide everything well.
If the home is large, you should have another agent or assistant helping you. It’s always safer to have two people hosting the open house when possible. I remember a few years ago, there was a thief coming into open houses and taking flat screen TVs off the wall and running out. It happens, so be alert.
8. Follow up, and play the long game
You must follow up with any good leads after the open house or no later than the next morning! It is best if you have an upcoming listing or an off-market opportunity to discuss with them as buyers are hungry for new listings and pockets they have not heard about.
Be prepared to cultivate the lead, and be patient if they are not ready to pull the trigger. Most buyers take a year or two — and sometimes more — to take action, so add them to your database, set up an auto notification, stay in contact with them, and invest in your future business.
I have had a few instances where I have received a call from someone I met at an open house five years ago who wanted me to come list their house. This business is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are going to commit three to five hours on a Sunday where you can be enjoying yourself or spending time with your family and friends, make the most of it. If you follow the steps above you will put yourself in a position to have success.
Of course, there will be Sunday afternoons where you are not feeling it and can’t muster the energy or enthusiasm. I have been there many times and have kicked myself for wasting my time when I could have been resting or doing something fun.
If you are not up for doing the open house right, you are better off not doing it at all. Like everything in life, the more you put in the more you get out.