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How To Hold An Open House

NEWSFLASH... Open houses can make you $100,000 or more!

We know what you're thinking...
You're thinking that buyers at your open house don't want your help finding a home.
You're thinking that buyers at your open house want to see as many homes as possible that day.
You're thinking that buyers at your open house don't want to begin a relationship with an agent.
You're thinking that the only home you might sell them is the one you're holding open.

You're partially right, but the part you're wrong on is where you're missing the bus.

3 of every 5 visitors to your open house end up purchasing a home within the next 6 months.  Can you think of a good reason why they shouldn't work with you?  Then let's get started learning how to secure all the business you want, successfully holding open houses.

Yes, you can decide where to hold your open house
Most agents only hold an open house at one of their listings.  You should choose a home with a location that will draw the most visitors.  A high traffic area will produce the best results. 

If your inventory is limited, or you're new to real estate, hold an open house for another agent in your office.  You can even hold an open house for an agent from another company (best to call an agent who is not likely to do an open house at the listing in question).  Many times vacant homes are the easiest to hold open. 

How well the home shows is not important.  Your sole desire at this stage is to see as many people walk through the door as possible.  What you do after they come in is the important part.

How do you assure the open house is successful
The following activities will help your chances at a successful open house:
1.  Notify the neighbors of your open house.  Neighbors can help you by giving the appearance of a busy environment.  They also often become a source of a future listing.  Have your sellers help with inviting the neighbors to your open house.
2.  Make sure you utilize a guest register.  Have your visitors sign in when they arrive... explain to your visitors that you're keeping the register as a record of visitors for the homeowners (you will also use this information to keep in contact with the visitors).
3.  Invite your friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else you know who may be able to stop by.  They will add to the "activity" at the open house, and they may know or hear of someone who may be interested.  This also keeps your friends aware that you are an active agent in the area.
4.  Send out personalized open house invitations to as many known prospects as possible.
5.  Add an additional yard sign next to (or a rider on) your yard sign stating the time and day of the pending open house.
6.  Drop flyers, send postcards, or deliver door hangers to as many homes in the area as practical.
7.  Contact other agents in the area, let them know you're having an open house and give them the particulars on the property.  Tell them you will keep their listing in mind for your visitors as well.  Chances are that they won't take their clients to your open house, but they may direct them to you.

After your visitors arrive...
Immediately show your open house visitors that you're not the average agent.  You must do something to set yourself apart from the other agents they've seen. 
1.  Be exceptionally cheerful.
2.  Give them something of value... personalized pen, pad, bottled water with your own label, list of available homes in the area, a buyers package, personal brochure, movie tickets, etc.
3.  Add something extra to your home flyer.... other homes available (no addresses, just specs).

It is imperative that you have a laptop and access to the internet
The importance of technology cannot be overstated.  The longer your visitors stay at your open house, the better chance you'll have of working with them.  When you can pull up available homes directly from your MLS with the visitors looking on, you will gain rapport with them.  Additionally, you will not have the ability to print the listings for them to take..... THIS MEANS THEY NEED YOU TO TAKE THEM WHERE THEY WANT TO GO.  Have no reservations about locking up if necessary to take out a good prospect.  If possible, have a backup person to sit while you're gone (buddy open house with a new agent, or have a lender sit with you).

Know the inventory
Nothing shows the visitor that you're a top notch agent faster than you demonstrating your knowledge of the area market.  If they say they're looking for a 5bd/3ba home with 15,000sf lot, you can say...  "I know of 3 homes that would work perfectly for you, let me make sure there are no offers on them, and we'll go take a look".  Head straight to your laptop and bingo... if they don't object... you have a warm lead.

Getting the visitor involved at your open house
The hands down best way to get the visitors involved with YOU, is actively listening to their needs and desires.  Agents commonly make the mistake of asking questions and ignoring the answers.  Don't listen solely to what they say, listen closer to what they may really be telling you.  Most agents attempt to generate a working relationship with the buyer before they are ready to work with you.  Don't alienate your buyers by showing pressure (they've already met a pushy agent).  Begin asking general questions about their needs.  Follow up with more specific questions if the situation allows.  This should all be done after the visitors have had a chance to see the home.

Next... find out who the buyer is and move forward with the questioning.
Many visitors to your open house come in bunches (multiple families, friends, co-workers, or a combination of any of the above).  Ask your visitors who's looking for a home.  Once they tell you, keep it in mind and let them take a look around.  When they finish looking at the home, you will then ask questions to learn about your buyers' motivations. 

Here are several open house questions you may find useful:
"Does this home fit your needs?"
"What was it lacking?"
"What did you find attractive about this home?"
"How long have you been searching for a home?"
"Why don't you have an agent working for you?"
"When would you like to be in a new home?"
"Have you seen any homes that you like?"
"What's missing from the homes you've seen?"
"Is there anything keeping you from purchasing a home?"
"If we found you a home that meets your wants and needs, would you offer to purchase it today?"

Set up a buyer counseling & showing appointment
At this point in the conversation, you should know if this is a client you'd like to proceed with.  If so, you'll now want to set up a buyer counseling appointment.  The reason for this is twofold... You will have a better chance at building rock solid rapport with them, and you'll be able to set up multiple buyer counseling appointments by staying at your open house. 

"If I can find some homes that meet your needs, when would you like to go out and see them?"

If they're not ready to buy now, YOU MUST place them in a follow-up program and keep in contact with them until they ARE ready.


BONUS:  Many listings are generated from neighbors coming into your open house and telling you they are thinking of selling soon!  One California agent recently reported listing 7 homes last year from sellers coming into his open house and asking him to list and sell their home.
Copyright 2001-2008. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/01/14
How To Hold An Open House