Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to do a Successful Open House!

The great Open House debate has been going on for some time now. Does it work? Does it not work? Well there's a couple of answers to that age old question. So here we go:

We know attitude and expectation are more powerful than anything else. If you believe or don't believe something, you're exactly right! So, if you don't believe it will work, you're right. If you do believe it will work, you're right! Everyone wins. Now I realize it's not exactly that simple, so let's go further.
Open house results are about repetition and consistency. If you're an agent that thinks you can do 4 or 5 open houses and get 4 or 5 deals, WRONG! To really make this an effective part of your business you need to plan on 30 or more Open Houses a year.
Remember the purpose of the Open House is to sell the house you're in. Statistically speaking, it's not a high probability. It can and does happen, just not often enough to scream from the mountain tops. What it does accomplish is getting the word out, generate some buyer leads, possibly get some feedback on the home and make the seller happy if they've requested it.
Pricing is everything. You can do any number of marketing activities on an overpriced home and it will never sell. After all, how much marketing would it take to sell a nickel for ten cents? See my point?
Open House success will vary by location. In some markets it just won't work as well. The best way to find out if it will work in your market is to do one using the suggestions below. An example of a market where Open House doesn't work. In my market (resort) try doing one in the middle of January. There's no one here to even see the home! Internet saved our market from being a complete seasonal event.

So, (DRUMROLL) how to do it "right."

Select the right home. It must be priced well, in a great location, easy to find with few signs needed, great curb appeal, CLEAN and uncluttered. Go over 30 to 45 minutes early to get familiar with the home if you aren't already.
Invite the neighbors. On Thursday or Friday afternoon, go around the neighborhood and invite everyone to the event. I have a great script I will send you if you email me. The best part about this is a couple weeks later when it's SOLD, you can go back around to the same neighbors and let them know it sold so quickly. If anyone is thinking about selling, you'll be on the top of their list for sure.
Call/email people. Call/email all of your buyer leads current and past and invite them. Call the President of the Association. Chances are that person knows everyone in the neighborhood and may know who's moving soon!
Advertise in free resources. No longer do we need to do newspaper ads! Use all of the free resources you can find. Blogging, Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Direct interested parties to a website with GREAT photos and lots of them.
Have the home "On Sale" for the event. Offer some incentive to prospects to visit like closing costs paid or small price reduction "for one day only."
Have pre-set-up showings for 2-3 comps that are slightly different than yours (a bedroom more/less, pool/no pool, etc) and offer to show to buyers at the end of your open. (If no takers, be sure to cancel the show requests!)
Have great signage. Make sure your signs are crisp and clean. Don't use flimsy signs that can blow over while you're not looking. Have balloons on the signs. Have as many as you can so they aren't missed. Have balloons on the mailbox at the home as well.
Stage the home if necessary. If you follow tip one, less of this will be needed or it may already be done. Make the home as clutter free and inviting as possible.
Set the mood. Play some nice soothing music. Have a few scented candles to create a nice warm aroma. Bring some fresh flowers for the table. Have great lighting.
Have snacks. If your area is "known for" a food or snack offer that food. If you have any visiting prospects it will make a nice conversation starter.
Smile, Stand Up and have Enthusiasm. There's nothing worse than walking into a stranger's home and seeing a boring, unenthusiastic agent sitting at the table or on the couch. Give the prospect a reason to stay by having great energy. A smile is infectious.
Have a great opening line. We teach people a great conversation starter to any incoming prospect is..."Which home in the neighborhood do you own?" You'll quickly find out who the neighbors are and get them talking. If they respond with "We don't." Simply say, "Great, what brings you into the neighborhood today?" Keep the conversation going from there.
Have a lender with you. If you get a "live" one the lender can pre-qualify them right there on the spot.
Have very nice looking fact sheets. Bullet points work best rather than long paragraphs. You can fit more in and they are more likely to read it.
Make it an "Event." Coordinate with your office all nearby Open Houses that day and have a map on the back of the fact sheet or on its own to each Open House. Support each other.
Ask lots of questions. If the prospects are truly motivated and need some help, they aren't going to come out and tell you. By asking questions and keeping the conversation going you build rapport and it becomes easier for the prospect to open up to you. The key is to keep them talking as long as possible. You become less scary the longer they are with you. Unless of course you're just scary. Ha ha...couldn't resist!
Final and BEST TIP of them all...Bring your current listing leads to the Open House. At 20 minutes before it ends, we are typically tempted to start turning off the lights and packing up and sure enough, another prospect will pull into the driveway! To stop that temptation, bring your listing leads and call them to tell them you've just done an Open House and what kind of results you got. Let them know that can be their home next weekend! If nothing else, they'll know you're working!

That's the list. Do you have anything to add? I will re-publish a final list if we get some more great ideas.

While I don't guarantee success with these tips, some may work, some may not. If you're going to do open house, these should help your results.

Last disclaimer...remember that Open Houses are time consuming and there's no "real" guarantee of anyone coming in. If you find yourself in that situation, make sure to have a list of Past Clients, COI, Leads, Expireds, FSBOs, someone you can call and talk to about real estate to make it a productive use of your time.

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