Are Your Open Houses Just Seller-Pleasing Tools?

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6 Feb 2018

Take a survey of Realtors asking their attitude about real estate open houses and you’ll get responses across the board from “hate them” to “they’re great.”  It’s really the wrong question to ask.  More appropriate is “Do you get new business from your open houses?”  Statistics show time and again that only a tiny percentage of homes sell that were first seen at an open house, so what are we trying to accomplish other than to make our sellers feel good?

Assumption #1: Our Sellers Want Real Estate Open Houses

If you ask sellers if they want an open house when they list their home for sale, you’ll probably hear from most of them that they do.  This is even though they have to do deep cleaning, maybe some staging, and even leave the house for the time you’re holding the open house.  They must see value in the process.

Fact #1: Sellers are Uninformed

If sellers were aware of the extremely low percentage of sales as a result of an open house, they would probably have a different viewpoint.  Of course, you can tell them and maybe just not do an open house, and that’s an option if you hate them.  However, if their home doesn’t sell within the time they expected, they may hold that decision against you, no matter what you told them.  So, let’s assume that you’re going to hold one or more open houses for your listings.

Assumption #2: Only Tire-Kickers go to Open Houses

It is true that there are visitors to open houses who just like looking into someone’s home or get decorating ideas.  Some are just the neighbors who were never invited over in the past.  Some visitors are getting ideas for the type of home they want to buy “someday,” but not for a long time.  Assuming that most open house visitors are in these categories is a mistake, however.

Fact #2: Every Visitor Has Value

Those curious neighbors may be the most valuable visitors you’ll get.  They will sell someday, and they may be thinking about it sooner rather than later.  They may check out the home and the price and think that their home is nicer, so maybe a higher price for theirs is something to think about.  They’re standing in front of you, so treat them well if you want a shot at the listing.  As for tire-kickers and “someday buyers,” they don’t wear a sign, so assumptions could cost you a buyer client in the near future.  Treat every visitor as a possible commission in the near future.

Assumption #3: A Guest Book Sign-in is a Lead Generator

Sure, you may get lucky and have SOME of the visitors walking through who will take the time to fill in your Guest Book with the information you need to contact them as prospects for future business.  Others will walk right past it, especially if someone is filling it in, as waiting in line isn’t what they want to do.

Fact #3: You Need to Be Different

Think about the world we live in, one with just about everyone on their smartphone or tablet computer a large part of the day.  They shop that way, meet up with their friends that way, and they are totally comfortable with the technology; even lost without it.

What if your “guest book” was a tablet computer with the right questions and some quick ways to answer them with checkboxes?  Even better, what if there were two of them to cut down on waiting?  You can buy cheap tablets these days for as little as $59 – $79 that will do what you want.  Think technology instead of the old ways of doing things.

Set Up for Leads!

Take advantage of today’s technology tools and set up your table near the entry door for lead generation.  Have one or two tablets with a sign like “Sign in for a Free Local Sold Market Report.”  Then set up an easy to fill in set of quick questions for them.  Of course, you’ll want their name and email address (phone optional).  Then put in some easy and quick checkbox answers to categorize them as prospects.

This is where you make a decision as to how much you want to ask before they may be turned off and not give you answers.  Really, once you have their email address, there is only one other question necessary to help you to follow up.  It’s “Are you thinking at some point of ____ Buying or ____ Selling?”  Really, what more do you NEED to know?   It is tempting to ask them their time frame, but not necessarily a good idea.  Even if they tell you the truth as they see it today, it can change.  Putting them down as a lukewarm lead could be a mistake.

Sure, if you can get a little more info, do it, but once you have this much info you have what you need for following up with the promised report and marketing to get them to the closing table.