April 04, 2016

3 Steps to Hosting the Best Open House


It's no secret that hosting an open house is one of the keys to selling a home - the more people the see it, the more exposure, and better chance that'll someone will grab it. But have you thought about how important it is for you, the Realtor, to host an open house? Not only is this a crucial chance for the younger or greener agents to get a shot at getting into the real estate game, but it's one of the best ways to start building up relationships with buyers and potential leads on the market.

Just an open house in itself can be a daunting task, let alone having to worry about capturing every lead and building a relationship with everyone who steps through the front door. Don't worry, it's a far simpler task than it may seem, it will be well worth it in the end. Don't forget, 48% of home purchases come about because of an open house and agents on average get about 50% more business from open houses than online leads, both excellent arguments for mastering the art of the open house.

Your best open house starts here...

Ask any realtor, the most important aspect of holding an open house is capturing leads....that is, outside of selling the home of course. More often than not, the people that come to open houses aren't necessarily ready right then and there to write a check, and may not be for a while. So, why even pay attention to those obvious cold leads at your open house, right? Wrong!

Keep it personal

As with any sale in your pipeline, you can probably break out the visitors to your open house into the three categories of hot leads, warm leads, and cold leads.

Hot Leads

Picture your hot leads as the just-married couple who walk into the house like they already own it. They're taking measurements and planning where to hang their favorite painting and what the best place is for their TV in the living room.

Warm Leads

These are the folks that are ready to make a purchase, they may have recently been approved for a loan or mortgage, but they're not quite sure of what they want yet. They're coming to your open house an in effort to figure just that out.

Cold Leads

Here's the group you may be quick to disregard, but we urge you to treat them as equals to that hot lead! The thing is, 48% of buyers or leads are going to open houses purely for the informational aspect, you need to maximize your engagement with them into something that'll last well beyond the open house.

The key thing to keep in mind here, is that anyone who walks in the door of an open house, has buying on their mind, and will most likely be making a purchase in the near future. Even if they aren't quite ready to buy, they certainly know someone who's in the market, and when real estate agents expect 49% of their business to come from referrals this year, it pays off to be memorable. So, the question remains, will you be the one who sells them the home?

The first thing a potential homeowner takes note of when they walk into an open house is how they're treated by the Real Estate Agent. Sure, they're going to take notice of that fresh baked cookie smell, and maybe the spread of cheese and crackers you've got out but if they're snubbed by you, the Realtor, you can bet they won't be seeking you out again. How can you combat this? Certainly you can start by avoiding any discrimination based on how your visitors look or act but then it's all about how you react to them.

There's no reason why you shouldn't treat anyone who walks in the door as if they're a hot lead. Make sure to grab everyone's contact info as soon as they walk through door, and while tradition generally says you collect that information in a spreadsheet chart on a clipboard, you can up your game by utilizing a tablet where your visitors can easily sign in...and save you some major time inputting that information into your email system and trying to interpret messy handwriting. Check out a service like Spacio, 'the paperless open house' which allows your visitors to sign in seamlessly on your iPad and you can grab those leads immediately and send them to your CRM (or even Contactually.)

Do your research

Become an expert and a resource for all your open house visitors. Go ahead and spend some time in the neighborhood and understand the demographics and local amenities. There's nothing worse than being stumped by a question from a prospective buyer, and it's not the best experience for those looking to you as an expert and being let down and leaving with more questions than they came with. How can you do this? Well, that week leading up to the big day when you head over to the house to switch the 'for sale' sign to 'open house' sign, do some neighborhood reconnaissance.

Ask your seller if they have any local favorites or recommendations that you should check out or take note of, do some walking around the neighborhood, and then of course introduce yourself to the neighbors and invite them to the event. While some agents may want to avoid the 'nosey' neighbors coming over just to look at the house, they can act as resident experts! Who better for prospective buyers to chat with than the friendly family next door? They can even ask as your go-to just in case you are stumped by the occasional question. If you do happen to find yourself well and truly stumped on a question, make note of it and be sure to reach out within 24 hours with the answer! The fact that you remembered and went well out of your way to get them the answer, will go far with prospective buyers.


Now here's one of the hardest but most crucial aspects of building up a relationship with leads from an open house...following up with them afterwards. Sure, it's easy to send one email blast out to everyone that signed in on your clipboard, but what good does that do? If you can, take notes on your visitors that you can jot down quickly after they leave. Note what they were interested in, what they were looking for, and any questions they may have had. These notes can give you some easy insights on the best topics for following up with them. You want to stay top of mind with your potential leads because at the end of the day, they're probably all on the market and will be in need of a Realtor sometime soon.

The Contactually Mindshare Model

Go well beyond that first or second touch, even if you don't hear back from them. Nurture the relationship by asking if they'd like for you to do some research on their behalf and share listings that they may be interested in. Prove your value to them and build on the trust you created when you initially met to form a long lasting relationship. Utilize a CRM or system that tracks your leads and reminds you to keep following up with these leads...but remember, not all leads can be treated the equally. And while you may want to treat each of them equally at your open house, your follow-ups should differ based on where they are in the buying cycle. An email for a buyer ready to make a purchase today will not resonate the same way with someone who's just starting to look around. Start by differentiating your leads into your three categories and go from there, the more personalization the better!

The equation that can define success

Ready to add some value to those open houses? Take a look at your email list for everyone you sent an invitation to. With tracking software, you can take a look at who opened the email and who even went ahead to respond and RVSP to you. Those are instantly your hot leads. Now to take it a little further, who actually showed up to the open house? Compare your original list with your list of those that came and signed in on your iPad (or clipboard!) and you've got your first conversion point. You can even take it a step further and look to see who attended your open house and then if they ended up making an offer or buying the house. You'll be able to define the success of your open houses with that equation.

Get hosting

You can't build these relationships without first hosting an open house. Sure, it's a daunting task but creating a robust list of possible contacts, buyers, and referrals will be worth it in the long run. Make yourself a valuable asset to those folks on the market for a home by giving them a memorable and personable open house experience, and follow-up with them to continue the conversation. Start scheduling those open houses and build up your network!