Let’s explore open houses from another perspective – holding them. If you’re an abstainer, you may be missing good fortune. If your goal is to increase your business network, would you agree that meeting people is paramount? Aside from oodles of leisure reading time, nothing is gained by being a secret agent. Given the right training and attitude, by building relationships with more people, you can enjoy a healthier “visitor to client” conversion rate and build a great business.
Do you have a certain style, format or methodology for your opens, or do you treat them haphazardly? Do you sit impatiently in someone’s living room on sunny weekend afternoons and pray for the quick passage of time while quietly slipping into slumber? Do you hold them only to help justify the rather large potential commission, or as a legitimate lead generation tool?
Some enjoy great success with this traditional practice, while others consider them a complete waste of their precious time. Early in my career, I was a member of the latter group; I disliked their passivity. They reminded me of my days sitting in a new home sales office. If a new seller asked me about opens, I’d usually reply that they were a waste of time and an invasion of their privacy.
However, over the years, as I witnessed their growing popularity, my attitude began to change. When I considered that, unlike open visitors, disembodied responders from passive newspaper and Internet ads could easily hang up the phone or ignore emails, I figured I’d give them a try. And I’m glad I did.
Open houses provide tangible opportunities to personally meet and greet real people with whom you have immediate commonality – real estate. Plus you’re on your own turf in an environment you control, and critically, where people come to you. They presumably want a home and you’re a provider, a facilitator of wishes. You have ready access to the product and the ability to bring their dreams into reality.
Some visitors may be nosy neighbours or dreaming drifters seeking decorating ideas or fantasizing about home ownership. That’s fine; at least you meet people. And people know people. Regard it as a chance to kindle connections and expand your business sphere. Collect names and numbers – even from non-prospects – because someday, they may become prospects or recommend you.
Or they may be active searchers. Some may already be established with agents, but many may be orphans. Yes, in this modern age where most buyers begin their search on the Internet, people still get in their cars to circulate the circuit. Internet virtual tours and slide shows are great, but there’s nothing quite like feet on the ground. And if they don’t care for your open house, you’re gifted with a tiny window of opportunity to connect with them. Frankly, in my experience, it’s rare for an agent to sell their own listing from an open house, but many guests will ultimately buy something.
People are regularly attracted to property beyond their monetary means and tour homes completely out of their affordability range. I’d often meet more people who weren’t qualified to buy my listing. If someone looking unsophisticated, maybe roughly attired, walks through the door of your luxury listing, don’t arrogantly (and possibly mistakenly) judge them unworthy. Make an effort to connect and convert them into prospects for another more affordable property. They may respond favourably to your respectful attitude.
If the luxury home is within their financial means, odds are they won’t find it suitable anyway. Then again, they might. If they fail to buy it and you’re able to establish the foundation of a good working relationship, you may sell them something more suitable. As you would prepare for ad callers by having listing details of comparable properties close at hand, you should be aware of other active similar listings. This way, if your visitor doesn’t like or can’t afford yours, you can immediately tell them about others.
Would you agree that making the open house experience interesting for your guests is a smart idea? Instead of just being a gatekeeper while guests wander about, spice it up for them. Create an unforgettable event and make your competitor’s opens pale in comparison. Sell yourself.
To permit your guests to relax and view a slide show of assorted comparable listed properties, bring your laptop or tablet and connect it to the flat-screen TV. Or have your MLS search engine open to other listings in the area. While they’re in the house, show them your wares and what you can do for them. It’s time to sing and dance, so to speak.
You might catch their interest with a competitor’s listing they’d been curious about, or a home they were unaware of. If they’re already homeowners, if they were impressed with your respectful, professional demeanour and expert presentation and marketing skills, you might earn their listing. The longer you’re able to keep them interested, the greater the likelihood you’ll establish the beginnings of a strong connection.
In the next column, I’ll continue this topic and hopefully help you further enrich the open house experience. If you can’t wait, check out my book, The Happy Agent, available virtually everywhere print or e-books are sold, including some real estate board stores.