The spring buying (and selling) season is upon us. On April 20 and 21, Realtors across the country will host thousands of open houses in hundreds of different neighborhoods. The main goal of the weekend is to invite buyers to visit some of the many open homes where they can learn more about home ownership and what’s available to them.
Here are a few interesting statistics that illustrate why this event could be an important marketing opportunity for you (from the National Association of Realtors):
• In 2012 45 percent of all buyers used an open house as one of the sources in their home search process.
• Repeat buyers are more likely to find their home from an open house than first-time buyers.
• Middle-income buyers, those with income between $55,000 and $75,000, are most likely to find their home through an open house compared to those in other income brackets.
• Buyers 65 years and older, are more likely to find their home through an open house than other age groups. As age increases, the likelihood of using open houses as a search tool increases—45% of buyers aged 45 to 64 used open houses compared to only 28% of buyers aged 18 to 24.
• Buyers in the South are more likely to find a home through an open house compared to those in other regions.
• Buyers of new homes use open houses much more frequently than do buyers of previously owned homes.
• Married and unmarried couples are more likely to walk through open houses than single buyers.
• Buyers whose primary language in the home is not English are more likely to use open houses—44% of buyers whose primary language is English use open houses, compared to 59% who use a language other than English in the home. Similarly, buyers who were not born in the U.S. are more likely to use open houses as a search tool—43% of those who were born in the U.S. use open houses compared to 57% of those who were not born in the U.S.
Now that you know open houses help you sell homes, here are seven important tips for helping you stay safe, on this weekend or any other open house event you may schedule.
- Two are better than one. It’s always safer to work with another person. This is especially important if you get a large number of visitors. One person can’t follow everyone everywhere all the time. And someone with ulterior motives is less likely to take action if there’s someone else around.
- Have all visitors sign in. As we discussed in a recent article, you can do this on your smart phone or notebook now. It’s quick, easy, and great for follow-up. More important, it lets people know you have a record of their visit.
- Be sure your phone is fully charged. There are several safety apps designed just for Realtors, including one by Moby and another by Real Alert. These use GPS technology so your office or a colleague knows your whereabouts. If you don’t have one of these apps, arrange to call your office every hour on the hour. If they are expecting your call and you don’t check in, they will know they need to take some action.
- Avoid dead ends. Don’t get stuck alone in an enclosed space, like at attic or basement, with someone you don’t know. Get acquainted with the property before hand, so you’ll know how to get outside and away from the house if you need to.
- Tell everyone about it. If you advertise widely, use lots of signs, post it on Facebook, Tweet about it—people will think twice before they do something negative in a highly visible environment. Tell the neighbors ahead of time who you are, where you’ll be, and how long you’ll be there.
- Hide the good stuff. Advise your clients to keep jewelry, prescription drugs, and valuable property of any kind (especially small pieces) out of sight, preferably locked up. This should also include any mail or documents that contain identifying information, car or house keys and garage door openers.
- Listen to your gut. If something is making you feel uneasy, go with your instincts and do whatever it takes to get out of the situation. Some people don’t take action because they are afraid of looking foolish. Better to be foolish than robbed, kidnapped, injured, or dead.
Open House Weekend is a great opportunity to attract buyers and develop your client base. Taking these few simple precautions will make sure you are both safe and successful.