A recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey found that nearly half of buyers used open houses as a key part of their home searches. |
Plainly stated, if you're not holding open houses, you're not opening doors (literally) for your business. And why not hold open houses? You're killing two birds with one stone: you're meeting prospective buyers (and sellers) face-to-face and you're increasing the chance to sell your listing.
Believe it or not, there was a time when neighbors actually knew each other and even - dare I say - spent time in each other's homes. Today, not so much. But an open house opens things up and breaks the ice. Plus, an open house makes it fair game for curious people to find out about their neighbors - to learn what the house looks like inside, and of course, the asking price.
I suggest you hold a separate open house just for neighbors -- one that's a little more folksy and relaxed by throwing some hotdogs and burgers on the grill. This helps put people more at ease and allows them to let down their guard. And that helps you get to know potential sellers and perhaps even set up appointments with them.
Here are three more tips to open doors with open houses:
1. Be prepared. Those who know me know I was a Boy Scout, and as such, I really like that motto: Be prepared. Part of being prepared means taking time to think through all the details. A good open house is a true investment, and it takes time. If you do it right, you get a nice return on your investment. A key goal is to get as much traffic as you can, so piggy-back on other events occurring nearby -- a little league baseball game or a neighborhood yard sale. And another tip: get there early, at least 30 minutes. Nothing's more of a turnoff for buyers who show up only to watch an agent running around doing last-minute duties instead of paying attention to them.
2. Make the ugly home beautiful. You've been there, I know it. The seller simply refuses to update and upgrade before putting the house on the market. You don't have to be embarrassed - either for yourself or for your seller - because you can let prospective buyers see the house in a much better light with Obeo.com. With simple clicks, you can show buyers what the house would look like with new carpet (or hardwood floors), freshly painted walls, new drapes - whatever you want to update, you can do it on your laptop. You can also use Obeo on your own website for your other listings, too.
3. Be an educator. People come to open houses to learn, so help them do that at every turn (literally) they take while they tour the house. Offer a diagram of the house and post notes with details of all the amenities. Let the property show itself. Also, share a list of local properties you've listed and sold and your other current listings along with a condensed version of your buyer presentation - three to four pages double-sided should do it. You don't want to oversell, just tantalize them. And finally, have a drawing next to the sign-in so you get their actual information. Make it a winner-doesn't-have-to-be-present-to-win deal. You can get local businesses to give you a discount on, for example, one-hour massages, dinners and movie passes.
Let me hear from you. Are you holding open houses? Do you see ways to improve them? If so, what can you start doing today to make them better? Bubba Mills is executive vice president of Corcoran Consulting and Coaching Inc. (800-957-8353), an international consulting and coaching company that specializes in performance coaching and the implementation of sound business systems for residential REALTOR, mortgage brokers and real estate companies.
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