Archive for September 25, 2007

Open House Checklist

I’ve have been successfully selling real estate for almost 20 years and can count the number of times I have sold a specific house, myself, at an open house on one hand. However, I long ago lost count of the number of clients and sales I have made because of holding open houses.

Almost everyone (every Realtor) knows that open houses do not sell houses but they make the seller feel good and it’s a convenient for other agents to send their clients through the house if they’re already booked (I’ve done this myself – just make sure you call the listing agent first to let them know you’re sending a client by).   But I have never understood why sellers even want an open house…you have to leave your house for the afternoon not to mention you have a bunch of strangers walking through your home. Strangers who, may not know anything about the house before they walk-in and who may not even be financially qualified to buy the house. Plus, you have the neighbors and the lookers who are not even interested in buying at all they’re just nosey or simply want decorating tips. However, for real estate agents, open houses are a great opportunity to meet new potential clients.

I have included a checklist of things to do to help make your next open house a success:

o Show up on time and stay until the scheduled end. There is nothing worse than having someone hold your listing open and they show up late or leave early. It makes the listing agent look bad and the sellers are usually convinced the house will sell at the open house (which it hardly ever does) but they will be very upset.

o Choose wisely. Select a house in your farm area and if it’s not your listing preview the house a few days before the open house. You may find that the house is not worth holding open, it may be a disaster, it may have a bad location and is difficult to find or maybe it’s a holiday weekend and the listing agent promised an open house to the seller but doesn’t not want to do it himself. Don’t commit to doing unless it will work for you.

o Schedule the open house to start 1 hour after the typical time. For example, most agents’ in our area hold open houses on Sunday from 1-4pm. I do mine from 2-4 pm. This allows me to visit all the other open houses in the immediately area jut before mine starts. It allows me to talk more intelligently to buyers coming through. Most people visiting an open house will not buy that home. Instead it is an opportunity for you to meet buyers in person, establish some rapport and try to convince them to work with you. So if a buyer walks in and after some conversation they tell you that house isn’t what they were looking for you can suggest a another homes in the area – it makes you appear to be an expert in the neighborhood. This will impress both buyers as well as sellers (neighbors) who walk through the house.

o Preview 1 or 2 very comparable homes in the area, again this will lend creditability to you and your expertise if you can talk intelligently about some of the other similar homes in the area. It’s even better if these homes are not being held open because it gives you a reason to try to meet with the buyers later.

o Print a list of all available homes in the area in a similar price range and pass it out at the open house.

o Don’t hand out a flyer; it will usually get tossed right after they leave. Instead hand out your card, personal brochure and/or the list of other homes. Many people will be upset that you do not have a flyer readily available but tell them that is why you are there to answer their questions about the house.

o Make sure the seller is not going to be there. They will only hamper your ability to meet new clients and they usually scare any potential buyers away because they want to show them around the house.

o Don’t make everyone sign in. This will only give you list of people who probably do not want to talk to you anyway. Instead only take the names and contact info of people you connect with, and make sure they don’t already have an angel. This will save you lots of time following up leads that are not going anywhere.

o Don’t show buyers the house. Houses sell themselves the buyer doesn’t need you following them around saying this is the bedroom…this is the kitchen…they’re not stupid, instead tell buyers when they walk in about a few outstanding features of the home, the price, bedrooms & baths, then tell them to feel free to walk around and that you are available if they have any questions.

o Hand out or mail invitations to the neighbors, your Circle of Influence (COI) and any buyers you’re working with. The neighbors usually all want to see their neighbor’s house and it’s a great opportunity for you to meet them. When you invite your COI most won’t stop by but at least it’s a reason to contact them and show them that you are successful in real estate.

o Advertise on your website and run a local newspaper ad or list it in your local papers open house directory. If you don’t have enough time to run an ad or send an invitation I like to do a voice blast to my clients.

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