During the pandemic, I wondered if open houses would ever return to the marketing and prospecting powerhouse they have long been in the industry. Well, wonder no more. Open houses are back.
I recently devoted a Sunday afternoon to visiting several open houses in my neighborhood. I often do these secret shopping activities to talk with agents, experience the top-of-the-funnel sales process, and stay in touch with my local market. However, this was the first open house secret shopping I had done since pre-pandemic times, and let’s just say the world has changed.
Inventory, inflation, and interest rates are dominating the headlines. Multiple offers are the norm, and buyer frustration is causing heartache. Although we have experienced history-making transaction volumes nationally, it’s been a rough couple of years, and agents are tired. Not to mention the impending dark cloud of a market downturn just around the corner. So when is the time to take a breath, regroup, and reenergize?
I visited four open houses on my secret shopping afternoon. Each one had open house signage, at least at the end of the driveway, if not at multiple places, guiding visitors to the property. But unfortunately, that is about the only box I could check on the “How to Execute an Open House” checklist effectively.
The rest of my experience was quite frankly shocking.
- Not one agent had a sign-in sheet or registration information.
- I was not given one listing sheet or information about the house.
- I was not asked my name or any sort of qualifying questions.
- I was given free rein to explore the homes along with several other people at the same time. There was no supervision by the agent.
- I was not offered one business card or even a hint of follow-up.
I get it. The market is nuts, and we know that practically any new listing has a high probability of selling within a few days. I have even had agents tell me they don’t even want to talk to buyers right now because they are too much work and the bidding process is too competitive.
I have a couple of huge problems with this mindset.
You have a duty to the seller to protect their home during an open house. These agents should have taken a lot more care and diligence. If a problem occurred during the event, the agents could not have shared who visited the property that afternoon.
As an agent, you are missing a huge opportunity to build your sphere of influence. Your database is the lifeline of your business. This market will not last forever, and when it changes, you will wish you had the opportunity to meet dozens of potential buyers on a Sunday afternoon. Many of these buyers will not buy today but will buy sometime in the future. Many of these buyers are also sellers. Is this how they would want an open house on their home conducted? Did I mention the loss of referral opportunities? Oh yeah, there are those too.
Leaner times are ahead. Now is the time to start making changes to future-proof your business.
- Don’t take shortcuts. Do the work. Prepare and play the long game. You will thank yourself later. Invest in the relationships and constantly build your top-of-the-line revenue (commission income).
- Think about your costs. Examine every expense you have paid over the last couple of years. What has netted a return? What needs to be adjusted as we move into a different market?
Fathom Realty has helped thousands of agents increase their sales and reduce expenses. Our agent branding first philosophy, the technology and marketing tools you need to grow your business, and the training and support to thrive in every market have become a proven combination. So are you planning your next chapter? Learn more about Fathom.
About Wendy Forsthye
Wendy is the Chief Strategy Officer for Fathom Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: FTHM) a national, technology-driven, real estate services platform integrating residential brokerage, mortgage, title, insurance, and SaaS offerings to brokerages and agents by leveraging its proprietary cloud-based software, intelliAgent. Wendy has spent her career helping top brands, brokerages, and agents build their businesses. She has become a branding and growth leader by combining operational excellence with an agent-first philosophy. You can reach Wendy at Wendy@FathomInc.com.