Throw Open the Doors! | The Zebra Blog

Throw Open the Doors!

Think open houses aren’t effective in today’s tech-driven society? Think again!

Open houses – if done strategically – can generate more business than you would ever imagine.

Open houses have been around for a very long time. Twenty or thirty years ago, they were one of the only ways to get buyers into a home without an appointment. They were much more effective than printed ads because buyers had a chance to really look around and get a feel for the home. They were certainly the best way to do some low-cost marketing! Buyers simply showed up at as many open houses as they had time for and could quickly get a fairly good feel for their local market.

But then the internet arrived … and it wasn’t too many years later that real estate agents started marketing homes online. Beginning in early 2005 there were a number of articles discussing the fact that the open house – as a marketing tool – was a dying breed.

I disagreed with that theory then, and I still disagree with it today. I believe that open houses can be an incredible source of marketing for a home, an incredible source of business for agents, and an incredible tool for buyers to really explore what they want and need in a home.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2010 “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers”, 45%* of buyers use open houses as part of their information source. That means nearly one out of every two buyers is attending at least one open house! That’s an important fact for agents – and their sellers – to understand. Open houses are not just a last resort to find buyers for an over-priced listing, or to find buyers at all. An open house can have a very positive effect on the sale of a home.

A lot of agents will say that rarely have they sold the listing where they were holding an open house. That may be true, but remember this: open houses sell other houses. Open houses cultivate buyers and engage them into making positive buying decisions by getting them into houses and off the fence. Open houses can help get a sluggish market back up and running!

If you’ve taken open houses off your list of marketing activities, you need to put them back on your list. Right now – today – you have a better chance picking up a buyer than you did 5-10 years ago. Why? Because today’s buyer has more access to home information than ever before. They’ve already done their research. They have seen homes online and reviewed the stats. When they attend an open house, they’re attending because they have some interest in, or at least some curiosity about, the home. Today open houses are very targeted toward ready, willing and able buyers, compared to open houses of the past. And today’s buyers are savvy buyers. They are very clear on what they’re looking for. When they attend an open house, that house has already gotten their initial stamp of approval.

Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so! Here are more things for you to think about.

Open houses have a lot of pros and a few cons … based on who you are, what your market is like, and your natural personality style.

The Pros

  1. You have a chance to meet with potential buyers face-to-face and build credibility and trust.
  2. An open house is a great way to sharpen your client interaction skills.
  3. You’ll learn a lot about a neighborhood by doing the analysis necessary to have ready answers to buyer questions.
  4. An open house is a very low-cost marketing alternative.
  5. You’re creating an informational focus group to get feedback on the listing for you, and for the seller.
  6. You receive immediate results – and feedback. You’ll quickly get a sense of what buyers are looking for – and what prices are most attractive to the “right now” buyer.
  7. An open house shows that you are proactively involved in your local market.
  8. You can pick up a listing in the neighborhood. Many people attend open houses in their neighborhood, not only to see how their home stacks up, but to get to know agents that they might want to hire when they decide to sell their home.
  9. You could pick up a buyer for another home without spending a lot of money on marketing.
  10. An open house helps you familiarize yourself with the area or neighborhood inventory.

The Cons

  1. An open house can be a waste of time if no one shows up. (If you do an open house strategically, this won’t happen to you!)
  2. Prep time is needed, and can appear to be a lot of work. (It’s not a lot of work once you’re organized and you have a system!)
  3. An open house can be stressful if you don’t like to meet new people and you find building quick rapport challenging. (Role playing can help.)
  4. You have to be a great listener, and you need to know how to ask good questions. (Again, some role playing can do wonders for your interaction skills.)

I want you to take a few minutes right now and start a simple two-column list. On one side, write down all of the reasons why you like (or might like) holding open houses. On the other side, write down why you don’t do them. Compare both lists. Figure out what – If anything – is holding you back, and determine what you can do to help you see success with this potentially lucrative marketing strategy.

Believe me – open houses can be a goldmine for you! It’s time for you to throw the doors wide open and join the open house crowd!

If I’ve piqued your interest, stay tuned because this is just the first installment in a series of Zebra Reports that I’m going to write on open houses. Next week I’m going to talk about what kinds of houses get good traffic, and how you determine the right house (or houses) based on doing some highly-targeted research.

*Source: National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2010, page 46: INFORMATION SOURCES USED IN HOME SEARCH.

In case you missed any of the posts from this series, you can view the full list below:

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