Open House Tips

Hello everyone! Just thought I’d share some basic open house tips that I follow and usually work out well for me. There is a big difference between showing up at an open house unprepared and honeywell thermostat flashing cool on up with materials, listings, and other useful items.

First, lets assume you don’t have much business right now and have decided to hold some houses open for other agents in your office. Many agents do not have the time or desire to hold all of their properties open every weekend and will eagerly accept your offer to do it for them. Who wouldn’t want free advertising? But in order to maximize the potential benefit to you there are a few steps you should follow before deciding which properties you want to expend your efforts on:

1) Be sure to personally preview the property BEFORE you actually agree to hold it open. Sometimes there are big differences between what you see in the listing online and what you see when you actually get to the property. Make sure to inspect each room carefully, check bathrooms, check the backyard, basically check it as though you were a potential customer walking through the house for the first time. I take a checklist where I grade each area of the home according to feature. Also make sure it is priced appropriately for the market (no use holding open an over-priced listing where no one will show up).

2) After you have decided to hold an open house, decide whether or not you are going to advertise. In many communities there is enough weekend traffic that it may not be necessary to do any marketing but in others you may want to think about placing a small newspaper ad and/or posting on Craigslist (free!). There is nothing worse than holding an open house and having NO ONE come by because they didn’t know about it. Sometimes the listing agent will also advertise for you so be sure to check!

a. Also try not to choose a property that is very difficult to get to. Not only will you need more “Open House” signs to place at every turn, if a visitor can’t easily find the property your traffic will drastically be reduced. If you do need more signs than you have try asking other agents at the office if you could borrow their signs, many won’t mind!

3) Now, you have found the perfect property to hold the open house. What do you need to bring? My list usually consists of the following items:

* Small card table w/tablecloth

* Punch bowl w/ice and Bottled water

* Property flyers

* Business cards

* Local maps with Business card attached

* Assortment of home magazines/newspapers/brochures

* Sign in book

* Boombox

* 1 Bathroom set-up

I usually set up the table near the front entryway so you can greet visitors as soon as they come in. After the introduction you can begin to tell them about the home and hand them bottled water (anything to get them to stay longer). Now, the flyers are a debatable option. You can also leave those hidden away until the ask for them and continue to tell them about the house so that they focus their attention on you and not the flyer.

Have some neutral music playing (classical/jazz/elevator). Lay down a bathroom rug, put up some towels, a cheap shower curtain, soap, and toilet paper. Not only will it look nice but it will give you and your guests a bathroom to use while you are there (obviously these bathroom tips only apply to vacant homes!).

4) Many times people will poke their head in and immediately ask “How much?” Before you blurt out the price and let them sneak away invite them in, give them some bottled water, and ask how much they are looking to spend. This is where your preparation really comes in handy.

Before you go to the open house, do a radial search around the house for 1/4 mile for all active listings. Put them in a binder and categorize them by price and be sure to review them before your open house begins. If you get a prospect who takes a look around and says to you “Gee, I like the home but it’s about $20,000 more than I wanted to spend,” you can pull out your bind, flip to a section, and reply “Well sir/ma’am, here are 3 homes that are within your price range, after I finish here would you mind if I showed them to you?”

You will be surprised at how much business you can gain with this simple tip. Make sure, of course, that they do not have a Realtor already so you don’t step on any toes.

5) After prospects have toured the home and are on their way out, thank them for coming and be sure to give them your business card and contact information. If you sense they are not represented or may be seeking representation than by all means try to chat them up. Remember, you won’t make money by waiting for business to come to you!

6) There are already several posts about Open House safety so I will just highlight some of the more basic ones

* Do a walk-through of the house first to make sure it is empty

* Make sure someone knows where your open house is and from what times you will be there, and check-in with someone periodically

* Sit near the entryway so you can see who is approaching; if you do not feel comfortable with someone walking up to the door go ahead and lock it

* Be sure to keep two routes of escape accessible, e.g. open the back sliding door.

* If the yard is gated make sure there is not lock on the gate, if there is leave it open while you are holding the house open

* Try to keep your keys and phone on your person at all times

* When showing the house always keep yourself between the prospects and an exit. For example, if you are showing someone down a long hallway, stand to the side and let them proceed past you.

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