We’ve already given you some tips about setting the stage for a successful open house. But that’s not the whole story. An open house where nothing happens is roughly equivalent to spending an afternoon in solitary confinement. If this has ever happened to you (or if you want to make sure it doesn’t) follow these nine tips to make your next open house a sure-fire winner.
- Avoid old news. Hold your open house on new listings only. This assures that no one has seen the property yet and that the curiosity factor is still high. Avoid any house that’s been on the market for a while, even if the listing is new to you, or the price has been recently reduced. There are other ways to market these properties.
- Start where you are. Right in the neighborhood, that is. Make up a nice invitation and delivery it personally to all the homes in the immediate neighborhood. Pay special attention to FSBOs. Contact them by phone and tell them you’d especially like to meet them and compare notes on what’s happening in the current market. Don’t treat them like the enemy, or even like competition. If they decline your invitation, ask if they’d like to receive your monthly market update, either by email or snail mail. Now you have a relationship and a reason to keep in touch.
- Market to your list. Send an email invitation to everyone on your contact list, as well as to your own friends, social contacts, and business colleagues. Let them know that friends of friends are welcome too. Spread the word as far and as wide as you can.
- Create a market notebook. In addition to your standard sales flyer on the property, create a market notebook which contains a profile of every property in the area that is for sale or has sold within the last six months (including FSBOs). Make only one copy of this book and have it clearly visible and accessible during the open house. Why? Because visitors will love having all this information available in one place, but since they can’t take it with them they will have to stick around long enough to read it. And you’ll have the perfect opportunity to start a conversation and add to your contact list. Be sure to collect email addresses so you can send your monthly market update too.
- Go electronic. And speaking of contact lists, if you have an iPad or other tablet device, ditch the old written guest signup sheet and have them register directly into your database. There are Realtor apps that make this process easy (check out BrightOpen for starters). This method saves you a ton of time and lets your visitors know you’re on the cutting edge when it comes to marketing techniques.
- Tweet, tweet. We’ve talked at length in other articles about creative ways to use social media. So whatever social media you’re currently using, your open house should be the topic of conversation before, during and after. Blog about it a day or two ahead of time, of course, and post status updates on your Facebook page. Send out tweets during the open house—who’s stopping by, what refreshments you’re serving—anything that lends sparkle and personality to the occasion.
- Follow up with prospects. Of course you’ll be paying attention during the open house and making notes on who is a viable prospect (either buyer or seller) and who is just a curious visitor. Research shows that most people end up doing business with the first real estate agent they speak to, so fast response is crucial. Follow up with any prospects immediately by phone. Don’t wait and don’t settle for sending emails. This strategy should be used for FSBOs who show up as well as other prospects. Suggest getting together to discuss ideas. If they resist, make sure the door is left open for future contact.
- Personalize, don’t generalize. If you’ve done a good job collecting marketing intelligence during the open house, you have a great opportunity to personalize your marketing strategy for any meetings you get with prospects. This means making every prospect feel like the center of the universe by creating a portfolio prototype with their name and address on flyers and reports, as well as a digital photo of their property on sample marketing materials.
- Say thank you. Thank everyone who came, either by email or personal note. Again, look for ways to keep in touch. Ask for referrals where appropriate.
Here’s the bottom line: an open house can be a valuable marketing opportunity. So unless you really enjoy playing solitaire on your iPad or spending a few hours alone with the Sunday crossword puzzle, resolve to make your next open house pay off with a major breakthrough in getting new prospects and clients.