Opinions differ widely on whether or not an open house will actually sell your listing. We’re not here to debate that issue. However, if you’re a Realtor, you’re going to be holding open houses from time to time, so how do you make them pay off? Nothing could be worse than sitting all alone in an empty house on a rainy Sunday afternoon. So let’s see how we can change our perspective. Let’s do some ground work ahead of time to turn that must-do open house into a real happening.
- Timing is everything. Before you schedule an open house, check your local community calendars. Don’t plan anything that conflicts with a major local event that’s likely to draw attention away from you. If the circus is coming to town or the local high school is holding track meet finals, pick another day.
- All the world’s a stage. We’ve discussed home staging techniques in detail in another article. Work with your homeowner to present the property in the best possible light, both inside and out. The concept here is to present the home so that a potential buyer can imagine themselves moving right in. This means depersonalizing it as much as possible, so that the prospective buyer sees virtually a blank slate.
- Get social. More than 80% of the people who are looking for a house start their search online. Take full advantage of marketing through social media, because it’s free. Write sparkling copy and develop a portfolio of good pictures. Then post your ad in every online listing site you know about. Start with Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Oodle, and Craigslist and go from there.
- Mind the home front. And even though national web sites are a good start, your own web site and social media postings are way better. Of course you’ll be featuring your open house on your company web site during the two weeks prior to the date. And be sure to blog about it as well. Do a daily Facebook posting, highlighting a different feature of the property each day. Support that with frequent Twitter comments, photos on your Pinterest board, maybe an album on Picasa.Are you still doing newspaper ads? You might want to reevaluate that, given that newspaper advertising is more costly and less effective than social media. Remember the 80% rule (above).
- Plan your giveaways. Don’t settle for the usual single-sheet flyer with a picture of the home and the listing price. Go several steps farther than that. Put together a detailed color feature sheet, with good quality photographs, interior and exterior. Add an area map that highlights the location of schools, parks, and other neighborhood amenities. Back that up with an aerial view, which you can download from Google Earth. Include a floor plan, and if the house has unusual features, recent remodels or upgrades, do a separate sheet on those with detailed facts and photos.
- A picture is worth. . . well, you already know how that sentence ends. So we’ll end this article with one killer idea that will blow your clients and prospects away. Put all the information outlined under #5 onto a DVD and give that away instead.
Here’s why: you’re not just holding an open house hoping to attract the one buyer who will make an offer. No, you’re playing a much bigger game. You are polishing your brand, for one thing—distinguishing yourself from the competition. You are looking for prospects, future buyers who may want one of your other listings; and future sellers who will be dazzled with your marketing savvy.
So here’s what goes into your Oscar-worthy DVD:
- A video tour, with narration, of the home’s interior and exterior features
- Video clips of area amenities, like kids playing in the park or waterskiing on the lake
- Aerial views, both daytime and nighttime shots
- Background music
- Captions and other appropriate text
- Teaser clips of other properties you have listed
You can probably put together a respectable DVD on your own, or hire a local high school techno-teen to do it for you. There are companies who specialize in this kind of promotion for Realtors (Animoto is one) and if your property warrants that investment, it’s a great way to go. And of course once the DVD is done, you can upload it onto your web site and link to it from all those listing sites we talked about earlier.
In a future article, we’ll talk about how to convert all those open house looky-loos into real prospects. In the meantime, happy selling!