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This article was last updated Jul. 24, 2023.
Some agents act like it’s beneath them to host an open house, or like they’re doing the homeowner a favor. In reality, that’s probably because of a failure of imagination on the agent’s part.
One of the habits I’ve developed over the past several months is driving around on Saturdays and Sundays to view open houses in the area. It helps me to keep tabs on the inventory and market activity and gives me a chance to meet great listing agents in my part of Southern California.
I’ve learned a lot from this practice about the ways that people are successfully holding open houses — and some ways that people aren’t.
If hosted properly, an open house offers a variety of opportunities for the listing agent to grow their business while also getting feet through the door of their listing. Here’s how.
Make it an event
It doesn’t cost a lot to make a big impression at your open house. Put up plenty of signs and bring in a food truck, ice cream truck, popcorn and cotton candy machines, or other fun extras to attract neighbors and potential buyers.
Doorknock or send out flyers by mail to the surrounding area, then livestream the festivities on your social media platforms. Remember, you’re not just advertising your listing, you’re advertising yourself and the service you provide.
Capture information to grow your database
Make sure to keep a register of everybody who comes through your open house. Some states have procuring cause clauses in the listing contract, and by keeping track of anyone who came through your open house, you’ll have a list of exclusions. This will allow you to show that you were the one who generated their interest in the house in the event that the listing cancels or expires.
Make sure that the registration information you capture gets put into your CRM and used to grow your database. Add colleagues and reach out to them before your next listing goes live. Add neighbors and make them part of your farming strategy. Add unrepresented buyers and reach out to them consistently until they either sign with you or ask to be taken off of your list.
Get out from behind the laptop
Bring an assistant with you to handle visitor registration and spend your time having conversations and making connections with those who attend the open house. Your role is not to play receptionist, checking folks in when they arrive and waving goodbye as they leave. You’re the host — interacting, answering questions and chatting them up.
Treat it like a listing consultation
Don’t ignore those lookie-loo neighbors who you think are just there for the free refreshments. Remember, they may be stopping by because they’re thinking of putting their own home on the market.
Take the opportunity to talk to them about their home and, if possible, set up a time to stop by and talk to them about the potential value of their property. Make a personal connection so that you’re top of mind whenever they’re talking to someone about real estate agents in your area.
Bring a lender, especially now
Buyers need someone to help them crunch the numbers and figure out what’s possible for them financially in today’s market. Bring a lender with you to your open house and let them assist you in breaking down current interest rates, mortgage terms and potential return on investment for your market.
Provide information that adds value
Create attractive marketing materials for visitors to take with them, including:
- Flyers with basic information about the home
- Floorplan printouts with measurements
- Complete features lists for the property
- Pre-inspection or pre-appraisal information
- Estimates for improvements or renovations from a local contractor
Answer questions and handle objections before they arise by providing meaningful information upfront for buyers and their agents.
Follow up after the open house
Use the information you’ve captured and the conversations you’ve had to follow up in a meaningful way after the open house. Don’t limit yourself to asking for feedback on the property. Reach out in an authentic and helpful way to answer any questions, concerns, or pain points expressed by the visitors to your open house.
If you’re only measuring the success of your open house by whether or not you get an offer to buy, you’ll never embrace the potential that the event itself offers. Use open houses as a way to connect with colleagues, buyers, and potential sellers in your market so that every weekend afternoon becomes a major marketing event for your business.