The Nitty Gritty of the Springtime Open House
By Mark Burstein
Real Estate Broker / Business Consultant
Spring is sixteen days away. As the country begins to defrost, the real estate market is beginning to heat up. One of the most tried and true methods for lead generation is hosting the open house. Hosting open houses is a great way to get some face time with potential buyers, meet people in the neighborhood, and promote your business. Some agents are able to capitalize on these opportunities and get business, while others struggle and simply cannot figure out a way to make it effective.
Whether you are hosting your own listing, or helping a colleague, you have a great marketing opportunity to promote your services. If this is not your listing, make sure you get permission from the listing agent to promote the open house to supplement the listing agent’s efforts. Remember the more people you drive to the open house, the better.
Let’s review some strategies that may help you drive more traffic to your open house.
- Place an ad on Craigslist multiple times prior to your open house. With your AccelerAgent website, you can add a listing manually into your inventory manager. Then, posting an ad to Craigslist is easy.
- Open House Invitation to neighbors. It makes sense to knock on a few doors to see who else may be interested in selling their home. With Propertyminder’s Seller’s Corner, you have the ultimate marketing tool to incubate listing leads. All you need to do is feed the system contacts. The cheapest way to get homeowners into your database is to get belly to belly and make some friends. Your open house gives you a great excuse to be at people’s front doors. Always have a compelling marketing piece in hand that you can leave behind, inviting the neighbors to the open house. For example, leave a postcard or flyers with some market information, such as recent sales, and the invitation to your open house. Here is a verbal script for you:
“Hello, My name is ___ from ___ Realty. We are marketing your neighbor’s home at (address). In order to help sell the property, we are out today to get a better understanding of the neighborhood. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions about living here? What do you like about this area? Anything that you dislike? Do you plan on making a move in the near future? If you like to keep abreast of housing prices, I would be happy to send you an email when that house sells. Would you be interested? As a matter of fact, my system could notify you of all pertinent neighborhood activity. Would that interest you?”
- Open House Invitation to the greater neighborhood with Every Door Direct Mail. Make sure you reference your website as a source for real estate information. Also, give them a compelling reason to visit you at the open house. Remember that this method may take a few days to put together and deliver, so some planning may be involved, especially if you are borrowing a listing.
Now that you have done your best to get people through the door, let’s review some strategies for converting these “prospects” into leads and deals down the road.
Many agents make the mistake when they worry too much about getting everyone to sign the guest sheet at their open house.
A) Can you be everyone’s real estate agent? (Nope, not possible. You cannot clone yourself.)
B) Even if you could, would you want to?
If you have a good amount of traffic at your open house, you may have multiple groups of people in the house at the same time. If you are overly concerned with that sign- in sheet, you may neglect to do the most important thing that will invariably put money in your pocket.
A full sign in sheet may appear useful, but names, numbers and email addresses are meaningless unless there is some sort of established connection or relationship behind that information.
So the million dollar question beckons, what is that MOST important thing? It is making a connection on a personal and professional level. Your prospect must:
A) Like you.
B) Deem you competent.
You can have all the charisma in the world, and that could very well get people to like you; but, if they think you do not know how to run your business, they will not trust you with their real estate needs. You can ‘wow’ them with statistics and your market knowledge, but if they do not feel comfortable around you, feel that you are trustworthy, or can’t imagine wanting to “hang out” with you for a few hours, well then they won’t want to spend time looking at a property with you…
How do you get people to like you and deem you competent?
- Make a connection and then give them your undivided attention. If you are having an in-depth conversation, do not break the conversation off to make sure the next guy signs your paper. This is a great way to make those Monday follow-up calls frustrating. The person you were speaking to thinks you are rude for interrupting the flow of the conversation and the other person didn’t like your tie to begin with and reluctantly gave you the spam filled email address he/she never checks.
- Ask open-ended questions. Those that do not require a yes or no answer, and which “dig” a little. One of my favorite lines is “Why is that important?”
- Never ask them if they are working with an agent.
A) If they are working with a great agent, they would not be at your open house. Or they will give you the agent’s business card so you won’t need to ask.
B) They will most likely say yes to get you to stop “bugging them.” (They don’t know you yet, don’t hold this against them.)
C) If they do say yes, it will throw you “off your game” and you could miss out on a potential great relationship.
Offer a compelling reason for them to trust you with their contact information. Offer to send them listing information.
- Buyers – “I have a list of my top 5 buys in the area. I would be happy to share those with you. What is your email address?” After you get the email, offer to send them listings. If they are a home owner, offer them access to Seller’s Corner on your website. One of the lines I like to use to get a neighbor’s contact info is: “Every once in a while, I get a buyer who really wants to be in this area, but there are no suitable homes available. Sometimes these buyers are desperate and are willing to pay a premium. Would you be interested in entertaining a premium offer should the opportunity arise? Great, let me get your email and the best number to get a hold of you. B.T.W. I have this great service on my site, called Seller’s corner. Can I send you an invitation?
- Know the market. There is no excuse not to, you get access to all the data. You should have top- of- mind knowledge of the 3 or 4 best opportunities in that area outside of the home you are holding open and be able to speak about them intelligently. Preview any other homes for sale in that housing tract. You should have top- of-mind awareness about homes that are slightly less and more expensive in the area as well. Memory not what it used to be? That’s ok, have your laptop or tablet there, connected to the internet and open to your website. Create a custom IDX page of homes you could offer as alternatives. Show them and then offer to email them on the spot. Set up a search for them on the spot.
- Know the loans. If you are going to be their resource for real estate information, you need to know about loan programs and current rates and be able to speak and recommend with confidence.
If you are successful at building relationships, those Monday morning follow up calls will be a breeze. People will take and return your calls. One of the greatest frustrations I witnessed from agents is that they did a great job of getting people to sign in on their guest log sheet, but they could not get into a follow up conversation on Monday because nobody picks up the phone or returns their call. I would argue that the agent didn’t do a good job of establishing a relationship and demonstrating their expertise and now they are playing “catch up” – on one leg, with a hand tied behind their back.
Once you have successfully created a relationship with a potential client, and they take your calls and respond to your emails, there is one last stretch of work that needs to be done before they make a buying decision. That buying decision is to buy or sell their home…with YOU. That is achieved with great follow-up.
Your PropertyMinder website automates the process by following up on your behalf with listing notifications. The website also gives you a tremendous amount of insight into who is actually opening the email and spending time looking at properties. The clients’ actions, or lack thereof, will give you ammunition when it comes time to call and convert. Although many people may lay down and give you their business, you will be exponentially more successful if you take a proactive approach and initiate the conversations.
If people are absolutely in-active and are not looking at your listing notifications, you may want to give them a call and find out why. Are they working with a different agent? That’s ok. I may take you off my list and casually find out why they did not pick me. If it is something correctable, don’t make the same mistake with the next prospect. Maybe their plans have changed and you may want to scale back your communications and notifications.
If people are active and reviewing the listing information you are sending, you should definitely call to see how they are doing and find out if they would like to take a closer look at any property. Perhaps there was a listing they viewed multiple days during the day. Be proactive and call them to see if they would like to take a closer look. Some people will engage, but most need a little push. This is the real power of the PropertyMinder solution. Sending listings without the ability to see and track what your prospects are viewing is the agent with their hands tied behind their back, hopping on one foot.
Open houses are a great way to meet people and expand your influence in a neighborhood. They are a gateway to potential buyers, before they establish the commitment to work with a specific agent. The right tools make all the difference in the success of an Open House marketing system. Keeping track of multiple prospects week after week manually will take its toll. Potential business will slip through the cracks, unless you use your AccelerAgent to keep yourself top of mind with everyone you know.
Good luck this month! Let us know what you want to read about and if this helped you. We love feedback. Happy Spring!